Every Friday night at 9:05 p.m., Jade arrives at the Stuttgart train station from boarding school in Walbourg, France. Depending on the traffic, it can take from 20 minutes to 90 minutes to get to the train station in downtown Stuttgart. We usually leave at about 7:30 p.m. just to be sure, and if we get there early, we hang out in the coffee shop because the station’s boarding areas by the tracks are freezing.
At about 7:15, Jade gave us a call to tell us that the train would be delayed by about 30 minutes. 5 minutes later she said the train had stopped because of an electricity problem and that they were stranded on the tracks and that they might have to go back to Strasbourg, decision pending. “Pas de panique”, we were in touch with her by phone and decided to wait at home while things were resolved and to sooth our vaguely frazzled nerves with some Italian grappa that we found in a German store and wanted to try.
Grappa is an Italian, grape based pomace brandy and, according to the books I’ve read, usually is drunk by really old Italian men at outdoor cafes, sometimes with a coffee. My husband made the coffee and I poured the shots in cute little glasses that we got from God knows where. I don’t really care for brandy but from the first sip, the grappa didn’t have a brandy-like taste; dry, fruity, smooth. Scoffing at this “old men’s” drink we had two more per person, without the coffee, got in the car and started for the train station.
I estimate, even though we make this trip every week, that we were lost for about 45 minutes. While we were going in circles and blaming each other, Jade’s train, she called us every 10 minutes, was backing up towards Strasbourg in order to offload the passengers onto a German train in Offenburg.
Meantime, we did find the train station and when I asked the rather silly young man behind the information desk, he told me that the train would arrive around midnight, he thought. My husband, rambling around the train station, disappeared for about 10 minutes, coming back with intelligence of an “upscale”, 8th floor bar in the station. There was an 8th floor in the train station? An upscale bar? I had to see this! I should take my camera everywhere! Sure enough, there was an 8th floor and an upscale bar jammed with well dressed Yuppies or, maybe in Germany, Guppies We ordered 2 sekts (German cremant), 2 coffees (espresso, half of a demitasse, tasting of coffee grinds) and marveled. This must be a European thing. We just couldn’t see ourselves saying, “Hey, let’s go to the train station for drinks!” No snobbery intended. Still.
Jade did arrive at about 12:30 a.m. and we got home safely. But this morning, discussing grappa, we thought that frozen Stolichnaya was a lot more honest. After the first sip, you feel the Russian coming on. We would never have gone anywhere after drinking even 1 shot of Stoli, except to bed. What were we thinking? Too old to travel. SMH. The grappa, mild tasting, mellow and pleasant, crept upon us like, well, a smooth criminal
My husband is on his way to Djibouti this afternoon. Djibouti is a very small, ex-French colony on the Red Sea, ex-treme-ly humid, with shark warnings for any foreigner who didn’t bother to read the book. I did a TDY there once and because of the sea nothing grows in Djibouti; the earth is “salted” and fruits and vegetables must be imported. But the ancient, French downtown area is charming! I moved the usual Sunday lunch to Saturday so that we could have our weekly family lunch together before he left.
I chose German goose legs that are back in season? Shrug. And some nice, easy roasted aubergine. I love the way they package the goose legs. It looks like it should be a pork shank, but when you open it, there are two goose legs fitted perfectly together to make a neat little package. The Germans are so clever!
I seasoned the legs with my Bavarian essence. We’re in Germany now! Here is the link for the aubergine. You can decide to go with the vinaigrette or not; I skipped it this time and it was still lovely!
Roasted Goose Legs
2 whole goose legs
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
Season the legs with the bavarian essence, then brush with olive oil on both sides. Place the legs in a roasting pan, preferably with a rack, skin side down, then scatter the thyme sprigs on top. Place in a preheated 400 F oven for 30 minutes. Turn the legs over, reduce the oven to 325 F and continue to cook for 45 minutes to an hour until the legs are tender, yet still juicy.