Monday, January 14, 2013

Düsseldorf + Netherlands: A Quick Dart Into

A visit to Cologne requires a visit to its big rival, Düsseldorf. Apparently, the two cities are constantly battling it out for "The Best City in the Region" title, and this rivalry plays itself out in the form of dueling Karneval parades (Hellau vs. Alaaf), soccer teams (FC Köln vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf), and beer (Kölsch vs. Alt). It's best to just impartially stay out of it- but ooh I'd love to juggle the carnivals at one point in the future. My liver quivers in anticipation. 

Driving into the sunset from Cologne to Düsseldorf.

The boy and I met with his friends and respective girlfriends at a restaurant called Riva really close to our hotel. There were some ridiculously dressed people there, a few masquerading as footballers and their WAGs or Russian mob hoes. The ambience is interesting, the service friendly, the food pretentious and definitely not worth the price asked.

This lobster bisque was WAY too earthy and tasted like they just dumped a whole of fake truffle oil in.

Salmon and Potato Roast (Kartoffelrösti mit Lachs). Not sure how it tasted but do you see what I mean by the pretentiousness? I think that's just oil on top of the dressing... ?!

Beef carpaccio. With green drizzle.

I had a steak with potatoes with truffle sauce. There was a giant Parmesan flake propped up by the fluffy mashed potatoes. With the exception of some butter missing from my mash (probably best for my arteries), the steak was cooked to a good medium, the sauce earthy (they do love their truffles here... a little TOO much), and the Parmesan flake redundant but visually appealing. 

Lamb. Baaa. Exposure to Lamb Chop the sock puppet as a child has ruined all lamb as a source of edible consumption for me. 

A river historically responsible for Düsseldorf's current status as a prominent and wealthy metropolis, the Rhine (Rhein) River flows through the center of the city. Barges carrying a varying spectrum of expensive goods from the Netherlands to trash being floated down will slowly wind their way under the bridges. 

Ferris wheel near the river? Yes, please. 

The next day for brunch, the boy's friend, Maxdus, lives and works here so acted as tour guide for the day and introduced us to one of his favorite local pubs, Brauerei im Füchschen. It was filled to the brim with boozy Germans ranging in ages 16-90, with some treating us to their Karneval costumes early. I was then informed that even when it's NOT actual Karneval time, there was a pressing need to PRACTICE WEARING COSTUMES so Düsseldorfians will be perfectly ready for that ONE WEEK in Feb/March. They have official conferences, meetings, etc., which I imagine is one giant excuse to dress up in costumes and drink. Makes perfect sense to me! 

Beyond the highly entertaining pre-Karneval boozies, the restaurant also has their adjoining brewery, which makes the famed Füchschen Alt that they serve on tap. I am far from a beer connoisseur so I couldn't tell the difference between good or bad beer if my life depended on it, but the food- oh the food!

Make fun of this visual as much as you want, but even now as I view this, I am craving the Spicy Sausage with Kale Mashed Potatoes (Grünkohl with Bregenwurst and Kartoffelbrei). Dab a bit of their signature spicy brown mustard on the mash and nom it up. I left Germany smuggling a jar of the restaurant's homemade spicy brown mustard into Korea but shhh don't tell Customs. 

After this most delicious brunch, we rolled around Düsseldorf deciding between two options: taking in one of their soccer tournaments or flitting into the Netherlands for a quick dart around one of their outlet malls. I heard Prada was having a major sale so of course the Netherlands won out, but next time, the soccer tournament will win to balance it all out.

I've always had this fantasy of jumping off a bridge and rolling effortlessly onto a barge passing below in order to catch a bad guy or an alien... Men in Black-like? I'd probably break a leg or both.

The Dutch outlet malls don't merit a picture. It was filled with tourists (like us!) and since everything in Germany SHUTS DOWN on Sundays, people were here trying to while away their Sundays. I scored some goodies at Michael Kors but Prada was a bust. I'll feature my goodies in a future post! I did get the requisite sunset pictures though... except this sunset was in the Netherlands! I swear.

More trees. DUTCH trees.

So who wins, Düsseldorf or Cologne? I know better than to answer that question, but I'll have to come back again in the future, if only to eat at that divine Brauerei im Füchschen. Seriously. GO THERE if you're ever in Düsseldorf.

Oh, and lesson of the day? It doesn't matter how amazing your food looks because taste will win out every time. 

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