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Grin and beer it

I am not a beer drinker. In fact, most vegetarians that I know are not big on alcohol. I’m not sure why, but the two traits seem pretty highly correlated. In any case, this post (helpfully dictated by my non-vegetarian, alcohol-drinking husband Derek) is for the rare beer-loving vegetarian in Saarbruecken, and the beer-loving non-vegetarian ex-pats that read my blog. Continue Reading »

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I’m looking for baby swimming classes near Saarbruecken, and I’ve compiled a table listing all the courses that I’ve found so far. I haven’t tried any of the courses myself, but I asked other people about their experiences, and their comments are given below. Continue Reading »

A friend told me that a new gourmet grocery store and restaurant opened up in Halbergstr. across from Lidl. I went by a few weeks ago, surprised to discover that Fridel (a pun on Fidel Castro / Gastro perhaps??) is actually a small Globus outpost, with lots of Al Natura products. The “restaurant” is actually a bunch of stations, i.e., a salad station, a pizza station, etc. The food looked way below par. Not gourmet at all. For the most part the grocery selection was no different than you could get anywhere else, but there were a few items of note:

  • a vegan section, including Vegenaise, vegan salad dressings like thousand island, Daiya vegan cheese, and a large selection of Tofurkey deli “meat” and vegan sausages, each packet of sausages costing about 5 to 6 euros. They also carry Al Natura brand veggie sausages.
  • some “ethnic” sections with things like seaweed snacks from Korea, tamarind paste from India, and hummus (2 euros for 200g).
  • a large selection of Al Natura products, including fresh organic produce. The prices are better than at Martinshof or the Biofrischmarkt, but are similar to what you’d find at Rewe/Edeka, and more than at Lidl/Netto/Aldi.
  • various “Globus Gold” brand products, including wild rice and Camargue red rice, which I’ve tried and liked (but it’s not cheap, at 2 euros for 250g).

The store supposedly has a handicapped / stroller lift, but it wasn’t working when I was there the second time, and the first time it made so much noise and was so slow that I decided to carry my stroller and sleeping baby up the many steps rather than try to use the lift.

I happened to be walking down Johannisstr, and noticed that what used to be the Russian restaurant Maxim is now a Korean restaurant Gu Xiang. Derek and I stopped in for dinner last week, and we were the only ones there. They started us out with a complimentary bowl of seaweed salad, bean sprout salad, and kimchi. It was reasonably tasty.

There are only three vegetarian dishes on the menu — Bi Bim Bap, beansprout soup, and tofu teriyaki bento. I was in the mood for tofu so I ordered the teriyaki bento, spicy. It turned out that it was just a pretty typical Chinese-style greasy, salty stir-fry, without much spice or anything distinctively Korean about it.  We asked for something spicy to add to the food, and they brought us a bowl of Korean chili flakes that were both sweet and oily. They weren’t that hot, but they added flavor, improving the dish a lot. Still, I wouldn’t order it again.

I would go back to try the bi bim bap, and the owner said they can also make other dishes vegetarian, like the fried noodle dish. But I’m guessing any of the fried dishes are going to be similar to what I had — greasy, salty, and just not that flavorful.

Derek got one of the Korean stews (Eintöpfe), and he said it was okay, but pretty one-note. He liked it better with the Korean chili flakes added, but he said he wouldn’t get it again.

They’re open every day, 11 – 14:30 and 6pm – 1am.

Addres: Johannisstr. 27, 66111 Saarbruecken
Telephone: 0681 / 688 90 361

With Deutsche Bahn striking so often these days, some students at work sent out some helpful links for determining whether your train is actually running. I’m posting the links here, along with their notes.

This is the traditional search tool, which lists all scheduled trains, including ones that are cancelled (due to strikes, accidents, or for any other reason): http://www.bahn.de/reiseauskunft

This is the “live search” tool, which lists only those trains that are actually running. It’s supposed to be accurate for around 12 hours into the future: http://www.bahn.de/liveauskunft

This is the live map tool, which shows actually running trains and their estimated position and delay as a Google maps overlay: http://www.bahn.de/zugradar

All three tools are also part of DB apps for iPhone and Android.

This (German) page says when they expect to know the actual schedule for the
strike days: https://www.bahn.de/p/view/home/info/streik_gdl_150519.shtml

These links should be accurate enough for the strike but be careful, last week when a freight train derailed between KL and Landstuhl the Live search only found connections from KL via Pirmasens to SB while in reality they had arranged for buses between KL and Landstuhl. Such information can be found at http://www.bahn.de/blitz/view/index.shtml

Note that the train that runs Saarbrücken Mainz Frankfurt is run by Vexx, and so far they have not participated in the DB strikes.

By the way, does anyone know what you’re supposed to do if your train has been cancelled due to the strike, and you have a non-transferrable ticket?

I’m always forgetting the opening / closing times of my favorite specialty grocery stores near my house, so I thought I’d start a post for reference. In the process of writing it up, I figured I might as well include information about the shops, along with the opening hours.

Note that there might be other great ethnic grocery stores in Saarbruecken, but these are the ones near my house, so they’re the ones I know best and go to most frequently. If you want to recommend another shop, or always buy a specific item at one of these shops, please post a comment!

City Basar

Mainzer Straße 133, 66121 Saarbrücken, Germany
At the Hellwigstr. Saarbahn stop (see a map)
Telephone: 681 684-837

Opening hours: weekdays 7 am – 7pm, Saturday 6am – 6pm. Note however that they start putting away the fresh produce around 30 to 45 minutes before closing time. Sometimes they will fetch something for you from the back but not always. So be warned—the closer you come to closing time, the emptier the produce shelves will be.

Description: This is a very popular Turkish grocery store. Since it’s so popular, they have very fast turnover and the produce is generally very fresh. The prices are also reasonable. The downside, however, is that it can be a madhouse on Saturdays, with packed aisles and long lines.

Although this is a Turkish market, they actually have a quite wide variety of international foods:

  • Middle eastern / Turkish: They have most of what you’d expect at a Turkish grocery, including things like olives, feta, pita bread, other flat breads, tahini, pomegranate molasses, date syrup, roasted chickpeas, and jars of chickpeas. They have several different kinds of Börek, of which the spinach/feta is our favorite. They sometimes have fresh figs or fresh kumquats. They have a large deli case with hummus baba ganouj, and various pickled and/or marinated veggies including artichoke hearts.
  • Central / South American and Mexican: They almost always have jalapeños and habanero peppers and (very fresh, well-priced) cilantro. They usually also have big bags of dried black beans, and I think I’ve seen bags of farofa. They have flour tortillas of three different sizes. They often carry orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
  • Italian: They very occasionally have cime di rapa and Radicchio di Treviso. They often have bags of fresh basil, and pots of basil in the summertime.
  • Indian: they occasionally have fresh okra and they have a small section with various dals, besan (chickpea flour), and several brands of basmati rice. They occasionally have fresh turmeric. In the back are very big bags of cumin and a few other Indian spices.
  • Greek:  They have quite fresh, well-priced kalamata olives, large bunches of fresh dill and mint, and well-priced, tasty, good quality cooking olive oil from Greece in 1 liter and 5 liter tins. They also have halloumi cheese, although from a Turkish brand so I’m not sure how authentic it is.
  • East Asian: They often have fresh bean sprouts, lemongrass, and napa cabbage, and always have jasmine rice. In the back behind the cash register they have an “Asian” shelf with chili sauces, sambal olek, thai curry pastes, coconut milk, peanut butter, etc.
  • Russian / Eastern European: They have a small eastern european section, but I haven’t looked closely to see what is there.
  • Organic: They carry almost no organic produce, with the exception of organic lemons, and rarely organic oranges or bananas.
  • Miscellaneous: In addition to big bunches of fresh cilantro, dill, and parsley, they also carry bags of other fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, …. They have a large dried spice section. They have bulk nuts and dried fruit, as well as a large section of different sorts of dried beans and some grains.

ALA asiatische Lebensmittel aka Asia Markt aka “the Sri Lankan store”

Arndtstr. 1 66121 Saarbrücken
At the Uhlandstr. Saarbahn stop (see a map)
Phone: 0681 968-7046.

Opening hours: weekdays 8 am – 7pm, Saturday 8am – 6pm.

This shop is owned by a woman (Alageswaran Pavani) from Sri Lanka, and has lots of Indian ingredients including pantry items like various types of dal (including mung, chana, toovar, and urad dal) and Indian spices (like turmeric, ajwain seeds, whole cardamom, and asafoetida), as well as fresh items like curry leaves and paneer. She also carries a number of Asian groceries, like soy sauce and tempeh, plus good peanut butter and packaged tofu. Her prices are generally very good, but the store doesn’t have the highest turnover, and thus the produce is not always the freshest. I was recently there on a Tuesday afternoon and she was getting a delivery, so that might be a good time to drop by if you need produce.

Asia Shop aka Hary’s

Mainzer Straße 55, 66121 Saarbrücken, Germany
Closest Saarbahn stop is Uhlandstr.
Telephone: 0681 62900

Opening hours: weekdays 9:30 am – 7pm, Saturday 9:30 am – 5 pm.

This shop is owned by an older German gentleman (Andreas Hary), and he carries primarily East Asian products from Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, etc. He also carries a few Indian items, including dal, spices, and fresh paneer. Be warned though — the paneer is very expensive.

Personally, I go there most often to buy fresh bulk tofu, which is not organic, but is my favorite tofu in Saarbruecken, and costs only 1.50 euros for a 12 to 16 ounce block. It’s delivered on Thursday late afternoon, so I generally try to buy it between Thursday evening and Saturday evening. I also sometimes get bok choy, fresh thai basil or rau ram (which he has only occasionally) or a bag of bamboo slices. I’ve also heard that they make their own kimchi, but I’ve never tried it.

Other than tofu, prices are typically quite high, so I try not to buy things there that I can find at other shops. For certain specialty Japanese or Korean items, however, his shop is the only place I can find them, and the owner is such a friendly guy, I do like to support his shop.

Note that he doesn’t take debit or credit cards, but if you’re a regular customer and you forget to bring cash, he will put your items on your tab and you can come back and pay later.

Kim Asia Shop

Mainzer Straße 121, 66121 Saarbrücken, Germany
At the Hellwigstr. Saarbahn stop (see a map)
Telephone: 0681 9686 3570

Opening hours: weekdays and Saturdays 9 am – 7 pm

This shop is owned by a Vietnamese gentleman (anyone know his name?), and the shop carries primarily East Asian products from Vietnam, China, Thailand, etc. It’s smaller than Hary’s asian shop, and has fewer items from Japan and Korea. If Hary’s is out of tofu or I can’t get there before closing time, I sometimes buy tofu here, but it’s a bit firmer and more expensive than the tofu at Hary’s. I also occasionally buy thai basil or rau ram, but haven’t purchased much else there. They have huge bags of rice in the window.

Since the birth of my daughter, I’ve had less time for blogging. And the little time that I do have for blogging I have been using to write about baby-related but non-Saarbruecken-related topics. But I don’t want this blog to languish, so I’m actively recruiting guest bloggers, either for a single blog post or a series.

Do you have expert knowledge about some Saarbruecken-related topic? For example, do you know the best place to buy yerba mate, where to find a slackline group, how to get a spot in a local jazz choir, or the cheapest place to rent a moving truck? Any and all topics are welcome. Just post a comment here on this blog with your suggested topic, and I’ll email you back.

Don’t worry if your English isn’t perfect, or if you aren’t a very good writer. I am happy to help with copyediting, and even a bulleted list could be useful. What I need help with is finding people with useful expertise, that are willing to share their expertise with the readers of this blog.