Hilton Mainz City

21 December 2013

Earl has stayed here before during a previous business trip so I knew what to expect. It's a run-of-the-mill hotel - basically clean and moderate in room size (not too big nor too tiny).

The bed was on the firm side and the pillows were rather flat (but not uncomfortable). If you're looking for fluffy pillows, then this hotel is not for you.


Internet access was an extra 15 € per day and was a bit slow. And oh, the toilet needed a little more scrubbing as it was starting to look yellow. But then again, I'm fussier than most people.

What I did like was that they gave a few pieces of chocolate and a biscuit as a welcome snack. I wish more hotels did this instead of the usual fruit platter.

Breakfast buffet, wasn't bad though not extensive, and they served mostly the same dishes throughout. So if you're staying longer than four days, you might start getting bored - I was already missing rice on the second day especially since the buffet mainly consisted of salty sausages, bacon and meatballs.


What is great about the Hilton Mainz City is its location. The tram was literally a few steps away - two stops and you're at the main train station. The shopping district, Mainz Cathedral, and the Gutenburg Museum, are all around a 10 minute walk from the hotel.

By the way, have I mentioned how warm and friendly the staff were? Thus, all things considered, I would not mind booking this hotel again on my next trip to Mainz.

Mainz: Heiliggeist

18 December 2013
I read about Heiliggeist in Trip Advisor when I was searching for a place to eat. We wanted to dine like the locals, but it must be walking distance from the hotel. We're not familiar with their transport system and cab fares are so expensive - we paid 57.50 € (Php 3480 or SGD 99) from the airport to the Hilton Mainz City Hotel which was just a 30 minute trip!

It took us a bit of time to find the entrance - we, along with some others, initially thought it was closed since the first two doors we checked were locked. Earl and I decided to wait and see if anyone else was headed towards the restaurant which is how we finally found the front door!


According to Lonely Planet, Heiliggeist used to be a 15th-century hospital. Upon entering, we were glad our perseverance paid off as the place sure was pretty and cozy. I'd go back for the ambiance alone.


Turns out in Germany, they are fond of serving sparkling or carbonated water, so you would need to specify that you want "still" water. We got the smallest size of Selters Classic (2.45 €) and Apfelwein (2.35 €) which is the German version of apple wine or cider. I ordered the Apfelwein out of curiosity - it tasted like very watery wine - drinkable, but not something I'd order again anytime soon.


Die Zwie
Croustarte grilled with gouda, mozzarella, and parmeggiano
9.90 €

This was Earl's third trip to Germany in less than two months and he was getting a little tired of sausages. Good thing the restaurant's menu is composed of German and Italian inspired dishes so he immediately ordered pizza. It was pretty good and large enough for two or three people if you're ordering other things.


Heiliggeist's Homemade Veal Sausage
with Onions, Dijon-Wasabi-Mustard and Hash Browns
12.50 €

I loved the sausage! The hash browns though needed a bit of salt and tasted better mixed with the onions. This dish is also good for two and I ended up not finishing the potatoes due to no more space.

Conveniently located right behind the Gutenberg Museum, I would definitely recommend this place to those visiting the Mainz area.

Mainz

14 December 2013
Earl had a business trip during his birthday, so I went along to keep him company. This also meant that we only had two full days for sightseeing.

On our first day, we decided to start with the 10 AM Mass over at the 1037 year old Mainz Cathedral (St. Martin's Cathedral). We knew that the entire service was going to be in German and we wouldn't be able to understand anything, but I really wanted to see what a German Mass was like. And you know what? I'm so glad we went as it turned out to be the highlight of the day!



For a regular Sunday Mass, we were surprised that it was rather formal. There was a man dressed in some form of livery and holding a metal staff who headed the entrance procession. He was followed by the altar boys and the priests (there were three who concelebrated that day). I wanted to take a picture, but wasn't sure how well the ones around us would react.

Then there was the choir which had around 30 members, and I only have one word to describe their singing - heavenly! Every time they sang, I was smiling. Though there was a pipe organ that wasn't exactly in sync with the choir, but they mostly sang without background music so needless to say, I was happy during the entire Mass.



Right outside the cathedral was the Christmas Market which opens at 11 AM so the timing was perfect. There were so many things I wanted to buy, but since all of them consisted of food items, I decided that I'll sample everything during our next trip as my stomach had other priorities (there was a restaurant I wanted to try and if I ate already, I would not have any appetite left for lunch).

We went to the market again later that day just to see what it looked like at night. If it was festive during daytime, more so at night with all the lights. There were also more people, so if you want to shop in relative peace, do so in the morning.


The lady you see in the picture is at the Gutenberg Museum giving a presentation on how the first printing press worked. Unfortunately, it was in German so we could only guess at was she was saying by watching what she was doing. The same lady also gives a tour of the museum and was kind enough to offer comments in English if we joined the tour. I thanked her, but declined as we already rented an English audio guide (3.50 €).

The audio guide helped, but both Earl and I found the place to be rather boring. Maybe printing presses just aren't our thing. We did get to see the Gutenberg Bible, though we don't have pictures as taking photographs is prohibited in the entire museum except for the presentation.

Tickets cost 5.00 € per person.

Saveur

12 December 2013
We were introduced to Saveur last month when we had dinner there with friends. It was a happy meeting as the prices were affordable and the food was good. So last week, I decided to go back for a solo lunch.

Hmmm...

Previously, we ordered the Saveur's Pasta, duck leg confit, and pork belly. This time, I got the following:


Salmon Confit
Apple & fennel with lemon vinaigrette
SGD 9.90

I had no idea that this dish would be completely raw. I mean, the duck confit was cooked, right? I checked online and there are some versions that are cooked, and some that are just cooked slightly. This one felt like eating a piece of raw fish. Definitely not my kind of dish. So I just had one bite, asked for it to be packed, and I fried it in butter and garlic the minute I got home.


Chicken Roulade
A roulade of chicken thigh stuffed with foie gras-infused chicken farce, creamy basmati rice & parmesan sauce
SGD 9.90

The chicken was average - nothing that makes you want to go "ooohhh, this is great!" And the rice just tasted like it was mixed with a soft-boiled egg.


Pistachio Panna Cotta
Pistachio-flavoured cooked cream, topped with ground and caramelised pistachio
SGD 6.90

This wasn't bad, not too sweet, but I could only eat half before I got tired of the taste.

I'll definitely go back though to try their other dishes. And if the next visit is just like this recent one, then I'll stick to what we ordered initially.

River Safari

11 November 2013

Our friend Celia gave us free tickets to River Safari the other day. Not all attractions are open yet, such as the Amazon River Quest boat ride, and due to the rain we were not able to see the Squirrel Monkeys or the Taco Toucans, but it was a fun day nonetheless. Earl and I are already excited at the thought of coming back!

The biggest attractions at the park are the Giant Pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia. They were both eating bamboo at the time we were there which was surprisingly fun to watch (for me anyway). I've only seen pandas do that on TV so it see it live was rather nice. I could not tell the difference between the two though.



Golden Pheasant & Mississippi Paddlefish


Red-bellied Piranha & Red Panda


Mekong Giant Catfish


The Giant Pandas Kai Kai & Jia Jia


db Bistro Moderne

31 October 2013
My friend Abigail wanted to try a "celebrity" restaurant so we had dinner at db Bistro Moderne last Sunday.

For starters, we ordered the Escargots Persillade. I must say I wasn't too impressed as it didn't taste like much - I've had more flavorful versions at other restaurants.


Herbed Garlic-Almond Butter
Roasted Tomatoes
SGD 25

For the main course, Abbie ordered the Slow-Cooked Scottish Salmon. She didn't like the gnocchi and I thought that the fish definitely needed more salt.


Herb Gnocchi, Bitter Greens
Forestière Sauce
SGD 36

I ordered The Original db Burger since Daniel Boulud was the one who started the foie gras burger. Hmmm... by itself, it was not spectacular, but the taste improved after adding garlic aïoli (one of three condiments provided). In the end, I still prefer the foie gras burger over at Lusso in Manila.


Sirloin Burger
Filled with Braised Short Ribs & Foie Gras
Served on a Parmesan Bun
SGD 42

One good thing about the place though was the service. That I could not find fault with as they were attentive without being intrusive.

Malay Heritage Centre

25 October 2013

It took us quite some time before we got the energy to visit the Malay Heritage Centre. I think it was mostly because we thought it was going to be boring. Turns out we were wrong! It was quite interesting and I'm planning to go back to take the guided tour (there was none the day we were there).

The perfect itinerary for this would be to attend the guided tour at 11 AM, have lunch, and then go window shopping at Haji Lane which opens at 12 Noon. End the day with ice cream at Tom's Palette which is just two bus stops away from the area.

Flower Dome

14 October 2013
The minute you enter, you're greeted by a wonderfully crisp smell. The temperature is pleasantly cool, so much so that it will make you want to relocate your bed and curl up with a good book.


In my mind though, I was expecting a profusion of flowers like the Flower Fields in California. Instead, it's more like a carefully arranged garden that has a sample flower from every corner of the globe. So unless you like plants or you want to learn about the different types of flowers, I would leave the Flower Dome for the second or third visit to Singapore.





Mellben Seafood

30 September 2013

My folks were in town recently and Mom wanted to eat crabs, so we all trooped over to Ang Mo Kio for seafood. Earl went ahead and reached the place at 5:45 PM. He was in line for an hour and 15 minutes before getting a table at 7 PM (they don't take reservations during weekends). When we arrived a few minutes later, the place was packed and the line outside was quite long.

We ended up ordering three kinds of crab so that we could maximize our visit. You could choose between a large or a small crab, but since only four of us were eating (Earl is allergic to crustaceans), we decided on the smaller sized ones and we ended up bringing leftovers home.


First up, we ordered the Mushroom, Abalone Mushroom, Bailing Mushroom with Veg (SGD 15) (above left) that looked nothing like the one on the menu (above right). We asked if we were given the right dish, and the server confirmed that it was correct. Okay, if you say so...


The Salted-Egg Pork Ribs (SGD 15) was recommended by a friend, though I prefer the prawn version which I had during a previous visit to the restaurant.


The Diced Chicken with Cashew Nut (SGD 15) was good, but I really liked the Fried Mantous (SGD 4) which are usually used for dipping into the crab sauce.


I've had the Creamy Butter Crab (above left) before and I wanted them to try it. It's a bit spicy (for me anyway), but it was better than the Crab Fried Bee Hoon (above right). We should have tried the Claypot Crab Bee Hoon Soup instead which I heard they're famous for.


The unanimous favourite was the White Pepper Crab. The three crabs cost us SGD 159.50 without 7% GST and our total bill including five orders of plain rice was SGD 238.10. Pretty reasonable compared to Jumbo where our bill was SGD 365+ for just three dishes with rice and drinks for three people but without crabs.

This place is definitely worth going to especially if you like crabs at pocket friendly prices.

 
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