Zee Juuhman's Chreesmus Mahkehts, Poland In Germany, and A Glimpse Of The Dark Past part II

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Oberhausen, Germany

Robert, Trivium's pal from Warsaw had flown in to visit us all in Oberhausen, and he found just the kind of dinner spot we needed. Gdanska is a very traditional Polish place in Oberhausen; having just returned from Poland right before being in Oberhausen, I felt as if I were warped directly back to Warsaw. The same newspaper-menu, flyers advertising Polish concerts and artists adorned the walls. The place felt as if Grandma's long-tabled dining area was somewhat punk-rock-ized. It felt traditional and semi-modern-underground-kid Polish - a good vibe. 

My love for Polish beer even after the glass-eating incident (see the Warsaw episodes) should be a stern indication of the severe delectability of Polish brews. I start with a Zywiec (the very beer that was partially responsible for my scarred up gums) and we began ordering our feast. We order a Polish "Test Plate," a Gdansk plate (3 kinds of meat, chips, dumplings, cabbage with mushrooms, red cabbage, salad), Polish dumpling plate, and bratkartoffeln (a German fried-potato dish and a personal favorite of mine). 

All the food here was without a doubt in my mind certainly Polish (well… the fries (let's call em what they were) were not very Polish) and certainly good. The dumplings reminded me of Mama B's dumplings from a week back; meat and cabbage is always a theme when talking Polish food. When it comes to the spectrums of food-goodness on tour, catering is at the bottom, then restaurants, then  home cooked. Of course the home cooked food I had at Magda's mother's pad would reign supreme over all Polish food I'll probably ever eat in my life again - but this place was definitely "aiiight" (as Rob, one of my food soul mates and singer of Koufax would say when regarding something pretty good and not mind blowing). 

We finished our meal with a shot of some Polish vodka (there is always Polish vodka being consumed by the typically not-vodka drinking me when at a Polish spot) and were off across the street to a cocktail bar Extrablatt. 

The place was… sorta aiiight. When talkin cocktails - I'm a fan of the proper cocktails. Speakeasy style. Words like pre- and post- usually precede "prohibition" in the kind of cocktail place I'll be frequent. I had a decent Caipirinha, then we were off to whatever bar we'd hit on our trek back to the hotel. 

Here came the Lynch-moment (a term I've dubbed during a David Lynch film when all the sudden everything turns… well - insane). We found a random, quiet little bar - unmarked, un-filled. We ordered some German beers at a table - Robert, Paolo, Ella, and myself at a four-person booth, Dennis sitting at a stool at the head of the table; in walks a random drunk guy (this happens everywhere in the world right?) - then he sorta gets in Dennis' face/ear. 

Whether you spoke the language or not, it was clear the dude was talking shit - trying to either start a fight or start kissing Dennis. We kept a close eye in case it was about to get Roadhouse up in that bitch… but it didn't quite escalate to that point. The dude heiled Hitler… HEILED… talked a quick line of shit and stumbled off. Craziness. Yeah - that kind of ignorance and belligerence can (and does) happen anywhere on the planet - but dude… let us not forget the atrocities our planet has suffered over stupidity. It was an insanely rare occurrence; of all the years I've been touring Germany I'd never seen that before… but let's face it - the dude was a drunk… and wanted Dennis. 

Zee Juuhman's Chreesmus Mahkehts, Poland In Germany, and A Glimpse Of The Dark Past part I

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Oberhausen, Germany

Germany does Christmas Markets unlike any place I've ever personally seen. In the States - yeah, we have shop windows that are all done up with plastic Rudolphs and dressed-up bearded-bikers with kids on their laps in the middles of malls; but in Germany - there are some seriously done-up little X-mas towns. Oberhausen I heard was known as having one of the best Christmas markets in Germany, so it was perfect that we had a day off there on the In Flames European tour. 

I celebrate Christmas in I suppose what could be called the modernists' sense; not the religious aspect (not that I am anti-religious by any means) but in the sense that it's about being with friends and family and eating and drinking lots of good stuff that you don't really eat throughout the rest of the year. Paolo and I met up with Ella and Dennis and one of their pals - Robert (my buddy from Poland) was due to meet up with us later on in the night. We were off to the markets. 

Oberhausen's market entrance lies deceivingly by the entrance of a large shopping mall. I say deceivingly since the entrance makes it look like the whole market is about 5-6 stalls tops; I soon discovered that a path led behind the mall with the markets' expanse stretching well beyond my line of sight. Little country-style booths with smiling German women waving you in each carried a different delicacy; some with cheeses or smoked meats, some with currywurst or reibekuchen, some with Christmasy booze. 

The first stall we hit dished out fatty-delicious chunks of pork stuffed into a simple roll. Meaty, porky, (a little chewy, little tough) - nevertheless good stuff. Ella came up with a skewer of strawberries with a white chocolate shell and dark chocolate dressing - this was sugary and milky in it's white-chocolate tastiness. You really feel as if you're transported back into the old bearded fat-man's land when you traverse the German markets in wintertime - all that extra chub and beard start to make sense… it's freaking cold in European wintertime! We make a stop to a place that has hot mulled German wine. 

Greeted with a glass that reads "bicker lam", you can smell the herbs nicely cooking in their viscous Orc-liquor color. This is the stuff that warms the soul back up. You taste something along the lines of red wine, a gingerbread house, and winter spices. I suck back a couple of these and work the appetite back up for some currywurst. Currywurst is iconically German. Mention it to any German and you'll get a smile back and maybe a moan of pleasure. Curry sauce, chopped up sausage - all mixed up in a soupy mess - served with some bread. As traditional as it gets for German mop-up-your-booze, heart-warming drunk-food. 

I've had many a latka in my day, but never the German version - reibekuchen. It's essentially the exact same thing, a potato pancake of chopped up potato, deep fried in a healthy batch of heart-cloggingly-good oil, served simply with some salt on top and apple sauce. Couple one of those bad boys with some Konig Pilsener and you are in business my friend. We ripped through those, then some crepe-type beasts stuffed with Nutella and bananas and white chocolate, then it was time for a break. 

We headed back to the hotels to lay around for a while to regain our appetite for the Polish feast that would mark the arrival of our Polish pal Robert. 

A Michelin-Star For Matthew

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A Michelin-Star For Matthew


There are only a handful of events in a person's lifetime that can be considered as life-changing. For me, there are a few instances recently that truly stand out as something monumental… where I actually recall being in that moment thinking to myself "this is unbelievable… this is really something special." The sort of moment where you know that maybe this will never happen again - and thankfully you were able to step outside of yourself for a moment and quietly observe the magic happening at that moment. 

The events recently have to be: getting married, my first gold record, headlining a stadium in Bulgaria in front of about 17.5K people, becoming friends with some of my longtime musical-heroes, my first home purchase, and my first time eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant. 

Two of my dear friends in Germany, Larissa and Kai (Larissa works at Roadrunner Germany, Kai is her boyfriend - a super cool foodie who knows some damn good eats and drink) were coming out to our Munich show; Kai's cousin Jones worked at the time at what they kept telling me was "a pretty damn amazing restaurant." I never truly got to bond with Larissa until the promo trip for In Waves. On that trip, we discovered that her and I, and Kai as well - all loved the truly good stuff in life. We got to know each other over some intensely delicious cocktails and wonderful meals. 

We wrapped the show, Paolo and I quickly showered, and we hopped into a car with Kai, Larissa, and Jones. Arriving at the Mandarin Oriental in Munich, we knew we were in for something really special. The restaurant that Jones worked at at that time was Marks, a one-star Michelin restaurant. Having zero concept of what food at a starred restaurant would be like… we sat bewildered at the fancy spot we found ourself in. 

I started with a beautiful Gin and Tonic to cool the excited nerves. Jones comes by and says we can take a peek into the kitchen… it must be how it feels to be backstage for the first time for a music-fan - I was reserving my giddiness, trying to keep cool as I looked on with awe at the impeccable kitchen - they moved like an organic machine… quietly each executing with surgical precision their task at hand. I thanked the staff for having us, snapped some photos, and headed in. 

Words cannot possibly describe the breadth of the dishes we consumed that night, so I simply leave you with the descriptions and the photos. We initially were expecting a very hefty bill… and no, just because I'm in a semi-successful band doesn't mean we get comped meals often; after the meal - we find that all food was comped and they simply wanted us to pay for the booze. Roadrunner paid for that. So… yeah… that night - (and I rarely do) I felt like a rockstar. 


Mandarin Oriental Marks:

- Gin And Tonic

- Trentino Cabernet 2008

- Assorted Breads

- Carpaccio Of Salmon And Monkfish

- Wonton Of Foie, Foam Of White Truffle And Red Wine, Black Truffles On Top

- Sweet And Sour Soup With Langostino Out Of Fresh Water. Lemon Grass, Leek, Coriander. Shell Soup Based On Thom Tum Guw.

- Milk-Fed Veal With Black Truffle And Stir Fry

- Golden Cassis Raspberry Sorbet

- Southern Austrian Merlot Ice Wine

- House-Made Chocolates

Danke Marks.


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We arrived in Munich and awoke early, knowing we had a big food day ahead of us. Paolo and I met up with Ela and Dennis, and headed out front of the venue to meet with Laurent - a long-time supporter and worker of/for Trivium. Laurent is initially from France, living in Germany. He is responsible for much of the amazingness behind Trivium's internet presence. He has worked alongside Trivium for years and years, helping get our word digital and online - he's an invaluable ally to the Trivium organization, and it was time to grab a bite with him in his old stomping grounds. 

Traveling by foot, train, then foot again - we were able to see much of Munich's old historical architecture and marketplaces. Quickly developing a massive thirst for German beer and a hunger for German pork-product - we ran into the Hofbrauhaus, the restaurant Laurent picked for us today. 

Have I mentioned enough my passionate love-affair with German beers (especially Weiss and Hefeweisen beers)? Well - I love that shit. I find German beer drinkable like water - with a taste like the heavens. Weiss and Hefes? Fuck me that shit is good in Germany. I order a comedically-large Hofbrau Wiesn Marzen. Comedically? Typically.

I like how the Germans do beer. They do it incredible-friggon-tasty-well, and served cold in giant glasses. I'd be having me quite a bit of the golden-elixir. With that tall beer, you need an excuse to drink more of it - so we order:

- 1/2 Knusprig Gebratene bauermente mit apfelblaukraut und kartoffelknodel.

- HB sausage platter with pork sausages, Viennese and pfalzer sausage, on a bed of sauerkraut. 

- Leberkas: baked Bavarian meat loaf from the HB butchery, oven-fresh with home-made potato salad.

- Crispy roasted knuckle of pork in gravy with a grated potato dumpling.

- Basket of bread with pretzels, rolls, house bread.

- Apfelstrudel.

- Kaiserschmarm.

The Bavarian-region of Germany is always associated with pretzels and beer - so we chow down on that stuff first; next come the second-most ubiquitous and typical German/Bavarian-German dish - pork-meat in tube-form. The first two courses disappear quick. It's that comfort/familiar-food that brings our German friends back to childhood pretty quick; and for me and P? Well… we love pretzels and sausage in Germany quite a bit. 

The roast knuckle looks like something that fell off a prehistoric animals' leg. Texturally it has all sorts of interesting things going on: the crispy skin on the outside reminds you of an Asian-style crispy pork-belly, dark-meat and white meat cling to the bone trying to evade our clamping jaws. If you haven't had the chance to have a European grated-potato dumpling - you're missing out. It's like a sticky, giant rice-ball of potato-y starchy goodness; gravy was the hot tub of the leg and ball. Leberkas got Dennis pretty stoked - it's a classic German traditional dish; somewhere between meatloaf and a giant hunk of ham/spam… but tasting better than the latter of course. German potato salad is the not-so-distant relative to the potato salad we see grace many-a-picnic table across America.

I believe the poultry was roasted duck… however, by this point I was so painfully stuffed that it became a game of shoveling more food just for the taste of it. Pornographically indulgent if I do say so myself. Kaiserschmarm was like chopped up soft, giant-pancake bits covered in powdered sugar, served with a magical tart apple-sauce. Apfelstrudel, iconically German - went beautifully with the powdered sugar, cream and whipped cream. But like I said, by this point… we were eating for sport.

German traditional food. Lecker. 


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Having just wrapped up two mind-blowing shows in Sweden with In Flames (Stockholm had around 7,000 people; Gothenburg over 8,000), I flew into Germany a day early before the bus to meet up with some of my old friends. Ela and Dennis are two of Trivium's biggest supporters and closest pals - if I am retelling the story completely accurately (and I hope I am) - I think the two of them met through the Trivium fan club, eventually began dating; created a "Trivium Car" (you may have seen that in press or in Germany); then eventually got married. Beautiful story if I do say so myself. I can confidently say that a Trivium show in Germany is not a Trivium show in Germany without them around - so it's always a treat to see the two. 

My pals picked me up at my hotel so the three of us could have a nice meal together for supper. Being quarter German, I have quite the affinity for traditional, "Grandma-style" German cuisine. Our restaurant for the night was Gastastatte Solitude-stuble. I order a Dinkel Acker Pilsner and make myself real comfortable. 

Gastastatte looks like an old wooden cabin in the middle of the German forest. Your table feels like Grandma's house; traditionally-dressed servers work the place - and man does the food look good. We start with a salad variation of traditional German salads. A leafy one, a coleslaw-type one, and a mushy-delicious kraut. Dennis and I are both big fans of eating as many different things as possible, so we both opt for the Solitude-stuble Spezial. En gloiner roschbroda, a gloss cordon bleu, a schweinelendle mit schbatzla nod m ragnischda salad. Get that one?

Just like region-to-region in countries, Germany has many different dialects city-to-city and different variations of traditional eats. I remember Ela mentioning that even some of the things on the menu were difficult for the two of them to translate due to their Stuttgart-isms. My dinner was basically three yummy-German hunks of meat. Roast pork with some kind of stewed-onions, pork, and a cordon bleu… all swimming in hearty-gravy.  

German food is comfort food and it's something splendid when done just right in the right places This place was good. Damn good. Our desert was a variation of berries, cream, ice cream, and a cookie. Simple and wonderful. I recall that home-made cream being light but still having that nice super-subtle saltiness like from milk. 

It was a nice eat and catch up with old friends at an old restaurant.