Category: Travel


This post sprung from a conversation with G’s new teacher, who asked if there were any German restaurants in Atlanta. With a single question she immediately endeared herself to me, which helped offset the inevitably depressing response: “Not many.”

There are a few, however, and I’ve sought to detail them a bit here for your dining pleasure and general entertainment. If you know of any others that are worth dropping some Deutschmarks…well, let me know!

 

Le Petite

Petite Auberg offers a lovely dining experience, including comfortable booths reminiscent of early ’80s hot tubs.

Petite Auberg
(3/5 Schnitzels)

There’s a venerable restaurant in Toco Hills under the name Petite Auberg, which I believe is French for “Just enough German dishes to occasionally bill ourself as a French-German restaurant but not enough to reflect it in our name.” Established in 1974, it’s been an Atlanta fave for four decades and then some.

We’re lulled there perhaps every two years, inevitably ordering in a manner that would make my Germanic ancestry proud. This holds true despite the fact that there are more escargot in a serving of their (tasty!) escargot than German dishes on the dinner menu.

What it lacks in authentic Deutsch grub it makes up for by its eastside ITP (inside the perimeter) proximity, a well-appointed environment, and warm ambiance.

 

Biergarten

Der Biergarten is true to their name, replete with open-air seating. Garten outside. Bier throughout.

Der Biergarten
(3/5 Schnitzels; 4th schnitzel pending sit-down dining review)

There’s another one in downtown that draws a more direct line to the Schwartzwald. Though I’ve only been to Der Biergarten once as part of a massive work/social gathering, I’d wager that the food would be worth the trip.

The beer selection truly impressed me, though the snack-type fare we were served wasn’t memorable enough to spark visions of Julie Andrews and the chorus of “Edelweis” when I recall my visit. Though any spot that offers a Konig Ludwig Platter for 6 automatically gets three stars, taste untasted!

 

Village corner

The Village Corner will help you forget — or perhaps not even care — how ridiculous you look in those Lederhosen.

The Village Corner
(5/5 Schnitzels)

I feel a bit ashamed that I didn’t first and foremost mention The Village Corner, which for all the right reasons secured the URL germanrestaurant.com. It’s fantastisch, charming — hands down it’s my fave, my Lieblingsrestaurant (if that’s indeed a word or a thing … if not, it should be).

Rumor has it that I once consumed their Wurst Platte fur zwei. Mind you, sometimes rumors are fact … at least in part. Located near Stone Mountain, which is eastside OTP (outside the perimeter), it’s close enough to Decatur but far enough from the urbanity to make you think for a minute you’re in Bavaria.

Zum Bratwurst … or was it Zur?
(6/5 Schnitzels)

I’d love to say that the little residence turned restaurant on Atlanta’s southside was still in existence. Even before I began the first of four years’ high school German, we frequented the restaurant for special occasions. Throughout 9-12 grades, the German club would visit regularly.

What once was a gem of a Deutsch Essen destination in College Park is now a pawn shop.What was the name? I think it was something off-kilter like Zum Bratwurst. That sounds right. Can’t recall for sure, but I have to thank it for fostering a love of German fare and folk and culture and somehow planting the seed for this post some three decades ago. I’ll still raise a glass to it. Prost!

Animaniacs

Animaniacs. Warum? Ich hab’ uberhaupt keine Ahnung!

And here, for no good reason that I can think of, is The Animaniacs singing their version of “Schnitzelbank,” featuring Professor Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer.

 

Slip-slidin’ away

“He kissed his boy as he lay sleeping // then he turned around and headed home again.” That Paul Simon lyric stuck in my head as I kissed G and sauntered off for coffee and coherent humanity.

Slip Slidin’ Away,” released the year of my berf, 1975, might make a good background track to this post as it fits a few things that are going down right now.

IMG_20160722_105940

Not too far from Georgia, but far enough to realize you’re not in Kansas

Roam away from home
We’re up in the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee, where my uncle spent his last decade or so preaching at the Old Kingsport Presbyterian Church. It’s the oldest church in the area and, at least as I recall Uncle David relating to us, the structure itself was relocated to its current hillside location, brought up by hand and horse and hydraulic from its original location near the river a half-century ago. But that story isn’t mine to tell. Nor Uncle David’s … still, he had something to say about the church.

 

We came up for a final visit with him last month, when he was placed into hospice at the Johnson City, Tenn., VA. And it was a good one. Laughter, good spirits, wit, and his trademark slapstick delivered with a deadpan expression before blossoming into a jackass-eatin’-briars grin.

Uncle-David-visit

Enough Ham for everybody (taken during our recent visit)

Yet, peppered throughout, were moments of slight confusion, reminiscent of his parents’ (my grandparents’) final years.

“Somebody should let those dogs out of that box over there,”he said, to which Marilyn replied, “David there ain’t no dogs over there.”

She was right. And he’d shrug it off, resting for a minute before we shuffled into the next topic.

Uncle-David-funeral

Placed by the Honor Guard

Home-going
This afternoon, we attended a graveside service for him, replete with military honors. 21-gun salute. Taps by a bugler. Folded flag. Airborne…an Army Chaplain…a Screaming Eagle, as I remember. Twice to Vietnam. Twice back to The States. Luckier than many.

His service is the last foreseeable reason for us to be here.

Going home
Tomorrow, we’ll drive back through Asheville, perhaps stopping for a meal at that Decatur-Georgia-on-steroids city tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, his sister’s (my mother’s) home state.

If we don’t stop there, there’s an old standby awaiting us further south. Through Buckner’s Gap, we’ll continue on, passing through little of note, but a lot of beautiful space. The Dillard House is a venerable establishment that offers southern food and plenty of it.

That kind of homestyle cooking might serve as a fitting final meal before we make it back home. Meat and vegetables and cornbread served in dishes with a rich history of their own. It reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking, and I’m sure he’d stopped there before. If not, he sure missed out.

Uncle-David-funeral-Tupelo.jpg

Ironically, the restaurant we ate at prior to heading to the service had on display a model train of Kingsport, circa 1950. In it was this graveside service scene. 

The home stretch
With Uncle David’s recent passing and Mom passing just four years ago, the reality of finality or maybe all things finite is, well, realer than ever.

I’m not glum. There’s some sadness, but I’m not distraught.

A friend recently shared that her relative — a mother of but 30-something — complained of a severe headache on a Friday and was gone by Sunday. My father’s passing was even more unexpected and expeditious. My mitigating response to her…hell, my approach to life…is this: love. Every damn minute.

In other words, be grateful…at least try. I figure if it all works out in the final mix, at least I believe so. And not every day or week or even month is filled to bursting with spotting rainbows, running through sprinklers, and drinking chocolate milkshakes, but that’s okay.

Sip after sip, the glass remains half full. So drink up and chin up.

March was made of yarn

Scattered thoughts in my notebook and marginalia in the above were the only things I’d written of our visit to the coast until now.

In the summer of 2014, we visited Japan and stopped along the coast to see areas affected by the tsunami of 2011. Accompanying us were friends whom we’d thought we’d lost in that very tsunami. Ironic and reassuring at the same time.

What we saw, what we experienced, what we felt … it all made an impression. I can’t see someone sharing a space with such an occurrence — even separated by time — and not feel … well, something. I can only imagine what it was like to look up to see the ocean moving toward you, 125+ feet higher than normal at its peak.

Coming into focus
This is the first I’ve published anything I’ve written about the experience. A few years ago, I read March was Made of Yarn, a collection of literature (and even a manga) about the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011 and related events.

But recently I’ve had occasion to read articles on subject, some pieces coming from the fringe. Stuff like how taxi drivers along the coast report passengers who ask to be take to the coast and then disappear along the way. And others a bit more harrowing.

Another one — altogether grounded in this realm — was a report on tsunami stones, which were places along the coast to warn future generations of past tsunami catastrophes. This was the article that finally spurred me to attempt to share my experiences visiting the coast.

Ayukawa

Building, torn off concrete footings and set on its side, near Ayukawa

Not broken, just incomplete
This post … It’s short, incomplete, as I see it, but that’s fittingly one of the feelings impressed on me along the coast. Once complete, thriving, now … still many years afterward … incomplete, scattered.

To remedy things (at least from a literary angle), I’ll add more. Maybe more to this one, but likely additional posts of a more personal nature.


Aneyoshi’s stonemason

Tamashige’s calloused hands picked up the metal chisel and hammer again. Fresh dust, dry and coarse, blanketed the ground at his feet. Dust – so much dust. So much it formed a pale nimbus around the base of the short stone pillar that was his work today.

Japan 2014 slideshow (170).jpgHe looked at his tools and weary hands, but couldn’t stop. He had to continue. He loosely cradled the tools of his craft for a moment. Then glanced at the stone before looking beyond it, his eyes coming to rest on the ancient mountain laurel still clinging higher up the hillside.

A sigh.

He turned, back toward the resilient shrub, and looked down toward Aneyoshi Town. What was left of it. Its rubble now littered the ground at his feet – broken beams, ceramics, roof tiles, even a fabric doll.

These items didn’t belong here, not on the hillside above the town. They belonged near the bay, not pushed and crushed, scattered by the irresistible, adamant force of a rising sea.

These things didn’t belong here – didn’t deserve to be covered in stone dust. He did. That was his calling. But he couldn’t understand why he still … was. Perhaps it was because he, as the settlement’s stonemason, was the only one who could carve these warning stones, the only one who could ensure the fresh, rough-torn impressions of the tsunami would reach others decades after he was gone.

“Present melts into past,” he murmured to himself, turning back to his work, “and past — that becomes distant memory. Unless it’s carved in stone.”

Future generations would see the stones, and hopefully take heed of their recessed words, which implored readers not to build homes between stone and sea.

Perhaps that was the reason Tamashige, the Aneyoshi stonemason, still lived. Perhaps he could invest his hope in that.

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