Sunday, October 22, 2006

An Epicure's Satisfaction

Epicure - A person who cultivates a refined taste, esp. in food and wine; connoisseur.

I used to tease my wife by telling friends and acquaintences that I know a little German. I would continue by saying, "She's about 5 feet tall, hazel eyes, cute..." It was at this point that I usually got smacked. The largest part of her heritage that she understands is German cooking. About like I understand Italian cooking.

There is a restaurant in Winter Park, the Gasthouse Eichler, that she wanted to try (it is also a hotel). She checked it out on the web before we came and learned that they have live piano music every Friday and Sunday. Although she had said we should eat dinner in because we splurged a bit on lunch, we had to go tonight if we wanted to enjoy the live music. Besides, she looked over the menu in a local food guide and was ready to eat the descriptions. We decided to go early to take advantage of the early bird special. A four-course dining experience for $15.50 (yes, that's the special).

As we walked in, we were treated to a Bavarian style decor that was inviting but certainly not overdone. We hung our coats in the lobby and were seated. The table was set with a candle, full sets of silverware, bread plates, and charger plates (large, shallow platters upon which the dinner plates are placed). Semi-fancy but in a town where every restaurant posts a sign that says "no ski boots" at the entrance, we didn't feel under dressed.

We each ordered a glass of wine. I ordered a Piesporter, a mild, white wine with light fruity flavor and low acidity. She ordered a Riesling. Similar but with more acidity.

The special of the evening was a sampler platter (they called it something much more elegant) that consisted of a half Jager Schnitzel (Breaded and Sautéed Pork Cutlet with Mushroom Onion Sauce) and a half veal dish with bacon and pickle (I don't recall the name) served with a bratwurst, spatzle and red cabbage. I went for the special, Shelly opted for the early bird with veal bratwurst served with spatzle and mashed potatoes (it comes with sauerkraut but she doesn't like it so she substituted the spatzle).

The first course consisted of a blue cheese mousse and crackers. The mousse had a nice, strong flavor but was not overpowering. Second course was a nice goulash soup with a tomato-beef base and a mixture of vegetables and meats - absolutely wonderful! This was followed by a salad of greens, thinly sliced carrots and cranberries. I had a cranberry vinagrette dressing, Shelly had the balsamic dressing.

We were finally served the main course. The Jager Schnitzel was lightly breaded - just enough to give it a light crunch. The pork cutlet was tender and the mushroom sauce complimented it perfectly. The veal thing was a thin strip of veal coiled together with bacon and served with a tasty sauce similar to the mushroom sauce. Spatzle is almost like little bits of sauteed bread and the red cabbage was kind-of sweet. The bratwurst... oh, the bratwurst... the bratwurst has become the standard by which all other bratwurst will be measured. It was made from high-quality, lean meat - no big chunks of grissly fat, not even one. The skin was paper thin. The flavor was exquisite. The piano music made the evening perfect.

Of course, with all of that food, we came back with a couple of take-home boxes and have at least one if not more meals. That alone makes up for the cost (yeah, it was on the upper end of cost).

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