Oktoberfest at Haus Heidelberg

Haus Heidelberg Sign

Of all the ethnic holidays, I think I like Oktoberfest the best. It brings with it hints of cooler weather, fall colors, and one of my favorite cuisines – German food. However, fellow kayaker and chef Darren M. recently pointed out that authentic Oktoberfest has a very specific date range – two weeks running from late September through the first week of October. Any restaurants or festivals advertising Oktoberfest this late in the year (such as Walhalla this weekend, but I guess a fake Norse town can have a fake Bavarian celebration any time it wants) is doing so purely for advertising promotion. I guess it’s not that different from seeing Halloween ads all October, or promoting Christmas just as soon as the after school sales end. That being said, when my friend Keith Dover proposed heading up to Haus Heidelberg in Hendersonville to take advantage of their Oktoberfest specials, I jumped at the chance, cultural authenticity be damned.

I have long complained about the dearth of German restaurants in the area, especially with BMW and all the other German industry in town. But, I guess that number is increasing. Joining Haus Edelweiss and Schwaben Haus are Hans und Franz and The Bavarian Pretzel Factory. Even Strossner’s Bakery is now on the list of places offering German food. German restaurants seem to be more prevalent on up in the mountains, I guess hearkening back to the Alpine nature of Bavaria. Both The Black Forest in Ardin and Haus Heidelberg have been long-time staples of German food in our region. However, I don’t get up that way often enough to take advantage of them. This was the first time I’d been to Haus Heidelberg in ages.

The drive up early Wednesday evening was spectacular. The October sky was brilliantly lit with the setting sun, and the leaves are just shy of being at peak. Keith and I drove on up through Flat Rock, enjoying the ride. Continue reading “Oktoberfest at Haus Heidelberg”

America’s Pub and Grub

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I was looking for a new place to try for dinner, so I turned to Urbanspoon to see if there was someplace close to home I had overlooked. Since I’d had a large Italian meal last night, I was more in the mood for sandwiches or something lighter tonight. America’s Pub and Grub popped up, and had generally positive reviews, so I decided to give it a try.

The place had two things going for it. First, the word “pub” has good memories for me. Several years ago when we visited London the best food we found was in the pubs. Also, the reviews seemed to indicate that Cajun cuisine was available. This area is sorely lacking in authentic Cajun options, so I wanted to see what they might have. So, it was off to America’s Pub and Grub.

Background:

From what I could read online, the place has only been open for a year or so. This location has been problematic for restaurants. I still remember the incident at Benito’s Italian, which was located right next door. Guadalajara Mexican now occupies that space, but there are also two nightclubs in the area. I didn’t know what to expect.

Atmosphere:

The outside looks nice and invited. However, a sign on the door advertised a “hookah bar”, and also said that inside smoking was permitted after 9:00 pm. The lingering odor of smoke nearly had me turning around and walking out, but I headed on back in.

The interior has been done with urban black grey tones. It’s a small place, and a bar dominates one corner. Seating was a bit weird. There were a few tiny tables that would hardly accommodate one, much less a couple. The only other tables were in three alcoves that could easily seat six. I took one of the alcoves. These images are from their website… Continue reading “America’s Pub and Grub”

Same As It Ever Was

Same as it ever was, Same as it ever was, Same as it ever was, Same as it ever was, Same as it ever was, Same as it ever was, Same as it ever was, Same as it ever was! —David Byrne, Once in a Lifetime I finally finished reading Walter Edgar’s tome, South Carolina: … Continue reading Same As It Ever Was

Table 301

…or, “I watch way too much food television…” Laura and I had delayed our anniversary dinner. Our actual anniversary is right after Christmas, and this year we were traveling. So, this year we decided to go out for a nice meal at a more convenient time. We had been to The Lazy Goat several times … Continue reading Table 301

The Trappe Door

Friday evening Laura and I were in the mood to try something new downtown. Our friend and former neighbor, Josh Beeby, is the owner of Barley’s Tap Room, and several months ago he had opened a new venue called The Trappe Door. We decided to give it a try. Background Josh is from Australia. According … Continue reading The Trappe Door

iPad – First Impressions

Our district purchased several iPads for special ed and for our ESOL teachers. I’ve had one for a week to put it through its paces and see how it might work, and how we might design some staff development. I can see the educational benefits of iPads in the classrooms, and I’ve seen some excellent results form kids working with them. However, from a personal standpoint I’m still conflicted as to whether I really like it, and how useful it might be compared to other options. Since I already have a netbook, Kindle, and iPod Touch, the device just seems redundant. Personally, I probably wouldn’t buy one, but if I didn’t already have these things, would it be a good choice? My very first thought was that it was just an overgrown Touch.

New iPad

Coming from a laptop/netbook experience, my first impression was that the shortcomings of the iPad are numerous…

  • No USB connections
  • No easy way to transfer files
  • No real GPS functionality for maps
  • NO FLASH!!

…and lots of other pesky problems that prevent it from doing what I think it should be able to do. The lack of Flash is especially bothersome, because it prevents me from using slide shows on Flickr, and even using the admin screens of this blog effectively. Aviary.com won’t work at all on it, and Google Docs is a real bother. Continue reading “iPad – First Impressions”

Wine Tasting 101

Wine Glass Tilt Shift

Laura and I were ready for a date night. We had both been so busy that we needed an evening off to ourselves. Unfortunately, this was also the weekend of Artisphere, so we were pretty certain that most of our favorite downtown restaurants would be inaccessible.

I got home at my usual time Friday afternoon, and we still didn’t have a plan. Laura had noted that Northampton Wines was having their “How to Taste” wine tasting this evening, and that would have been fun if we’d had reservations. We’ve tried going to that tasting before, but even calling early in the week we would find that it was full. I didn’t hold out much hope for a spur-of-the-moment trip, but I called anyway.

Turns out that our timing was perfect. Everyone was at Artisphere, so there was room for us. They had already set the table for the tasting, but said that they could re-arrange to add to more.

The Tasting

We knew that dinner wasn’t included with the tasting – only wine and cheese. We had a few appetizers at home so that we wouldn’t be drinking on empty stomachs, then headed over for our 6:30 tasting. We were the first to arrive, and were ushered into the back tasting room, which was lined with bins and bottles. As we waited, six glasses were filled with enough to taste the sample vintages for the evening.

Wine TastingWine Tasting

The rest of the guests arrived, bringing the total to 17. Our speaker was Richard deBondt, and this evening would focus on the wines of France. He began by talking about sparkling wines and the proper way to open a bottle. We were then served a taste, and were instructed on the proper way to toast. Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101”