Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 5, 2016 – It Keeps the Boys Young!

Hi again, everybody, and welcome back to Cépage et Cuisine, Mary’s and Brian’s blog about wine, food, culture, and place.  Today is Sunday.  Most of the wine producers don’t receive visitors on Sunday, so we didn’t venture out of the apartment until lunchtime.  Bernkastel was jammed with tourists so we moseyed down the Mosel to Graach for something quieter and more peaceful.  It is only four kilometers from Bernkastel to Graach, about 2.5 miles, practically walkable, but it feels a world away, a tiny wine village on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Because it was the only place open, we went to the Weinhaus Hotel zum Josefshof for lunch.  Hof is a word that translates roughly to “place,” so we would probably call it Joe’s Place here in the U.S.

Once again, trying to avoid a giant lunch but also enjoy something local and authentic, we had the weisswurst, a white sausage of veal, pork, herbs, and seasonings, served with a soft pretzel and mustard.  If you search for information about weisswurst on Google and look at the photos, it looks exactly like this, so it is apparently a classic German dish.  I had fries with mine.
Downstream past Zeltingen, we came upon this monstrosity under construction.  It is the Hochmoselbrücke, translated to High Mosel Bridge.  The idea is to enhance commerce and shipping between Frankfurt and the ports at Antwerp and Amsterdam.
It is hugely controversial, as you might expect.  Local wine producers are vehemently opposed, fearing its effect on the wine region.  At the least, it spoils the natural beauty of the valley and creates noise pollution.  I suppose progress marches on, but I sure am sorry to see this.
A quick look on Google Maps shows a major highway connecting Frankfurt and Amsterdam through Bonn, Cologne, and Dusseldorf in four hours.  Do they really need this new highway?

Back in Bernkastel on the way to the apartment, this expression appears on the wall of the first building in town.  Wolfgang von Goethe was a poet, writer, and politician of the late 1700s and early 1800s.  The approximate translation as best I can figure is:

I drank many wines, now I drink only you!
The Lord makes us, raised us, made the wine
And it loosens the tongues slavishly.
Yes, don’t spare the refreshment:
Because the oldest wine is dwindling from the barrel,
It keeps the boys young!

Johannes Haart suggested the Zeltinger Hof in Zeltingen as a restaurant for dinner with an especially nice offering of Riesling.
It is on this pretty back street in town, a typical German presentation with the ivy and window flower boxes.

The wine list is literally on display on the walls.  I love this kind of thing (and the girl in the picture).

The printed version is in a sturdy wooden book with hinged covers.

Somehow, that makes perfect sense here in Germany.  There is just nothing like a 2 x 4 to bind a wine list!

Occasionally, whether traveling or at home, we just place ourselves in the hands of the experts.  We tell the server about our general interests and desires and then accept recommendations.

We did that this time for the wine and enjoyed this beautiful spätlese feinherb Riesling by Weingut Paulinshof from the Kammer vineyard in Brauneberg.

Lage im Alleinbesitz means that this producer is the sole owner of this particular vineyard.  It was a wonderful, even stunning Riesling with aromas of white flowers and tree fruit and that great energy and  tension between acidity and peach, apricot and grapefruit citrus flavors.

I had a first course of this delicious cream of garlic, mushroom and herb soup.

Staying away from the various schnitzels for another day, we both selected a roasted hähnchenbrust, chicken breast, which was well-seasoned and delicious.  Mary’s came with white asparagus and Hollandaise.
Mine came with sautéed julienne vegetables and potato pancakes, which were sensational.  The potato pancakes were not the grated kind we’ve heard about.  They were more like mashed potatoes, formed into patties and browned.

Strolling back down the street about 9:00 in the cool of the evening, we marveled at the beauty of the neighborhood. Look at the date on this house, 1584.

That’s our post for today, a pretty laid back day in the Mosel.  Thanks for reading us at Cépage et Cuisine.  If you haven't read all the posts from this year's adventure, click on the older posts link at the bottom of the page.  We started on May 19 when we traveled from Detroit to Burgundy.  We still have a few more days of learning, experiencing, and relaxing.  Keep checking back for new posts to the blog.  In the meantime,



Saturday, June 25, 2016

June 4, 2016 – Why So Serious?

Hi, everybody, and welcome back to Cépage et Cuisine, Mary’s and Brian’s blog about wine, food, culture, people, and place.  Today was an exploration of nearby villages in the Mosel, taking in the scenery and experiencing the culture.  Here’s the view from our apartment.  That forested hillside is on the other side of the Mosel. 

Here are a few more images from our neighborhood in Bernkastel.
This house, at the foot of our street, is the birthplace of Nicolaus von Cues, who was a theologian, philosopher, and cardinal, born in 1401, in this house … one four zero one.

This is the view up Kardinalstraße.

This is the new house on the block … 1904.

Our street is actually Raustraße.

And here’s our apartment, a ferienwohnung, holiday home.

A few more photos of the neighborhood around the apartment.

The next village, just a couple of minutes from Bernkastel, is Wehlen.

This is the Wehlen bridge.

Lunch was at the edge of the bridge at Zur Moselbrücke, which translates to, you guessed it, The Mosel Bridge.

There it is again.  Bitte ein Bit.

Based on several interactions such as at restaurants, the tourism office, and just watching people go about their lives, here’s where we began to get more of a sense of cultural behavior differences between France and Germany.  I think the Germans are generally more serious and focused when at work in contrast to the French.  We think there probably is an element of accuracy to the expression, “the French work to live while the Germans live to work.”  We saw a car drive past with big red letters on the rear window, in English, that said, “Why So Serious.”  They are not unfriendly.  They are nice people, polite and responsive, but they are serious.  Of course, this is a broad generalization and there are lots of exceptions.

Here’s an example of what I mean.  When we arrived at Charles de Gaulle in Paris on the first day, the railway workers were on strike, so we had to cancel our train to Dijon and rent a car at the airport instead.  I saw later on the Delta website that Air France workers were striking.  This sort of thing is common in France, but when was the last time you heard of Lufthansa workers going on strike or German air traffic controllers?  Just doesn’t happen, at least not commonly.  I admire their work ethic and the relative prosperity of Germany among other countries speaks for itself, but many of them don’t seem very joyful.
Our serious servers at Zur Moselbrücke served up familiar fare with a curt dankeschön, the schweizer wurstsalat with roasted potatoes.  Between the language barrier and a relatively narrow cuisine bandwidth, and trying to avoid really big lunches, we don't have all that many choices.

Mary had this nice cheese plate and prosciutto plate and we both had a glass of nice Mosel Riesling.

The view of the Mosel countryside is absolutely worth the trip.  What incredible beauty!
Here’s the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard on the other side of the bridge.
And another look at the famous sundial and the incredibly steep rows of vines around it.

We’ve enjoyed just walking around many villages and their churches.  This is the church in Wehlen.
Beautiful pink marble or granite columns.

On the other side of the Mosel from Wehlen and about a kilometer (0.6 mile) in the direction of Bernkastel is the small village of Graach and the famous Graacher Dompropst vineyard behind it.

Back in Bernkastel, we had a tasting appointment for the afternoon.

This is the estate home of Weingut Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler.
The vinotheque is staffed by Monika Schmitt, a longtime friend of the Pauly family.  Her own history is quite interesting.  She has excellent English language skills, a great convenience for us, and also speaks French in addition to her native German.  She explained that in the post-war occupation years, this part of Germany was occupied by the French and children were required to learn to speak French.
Pauly-Bergweiler dates to the early 20th century and the marriage of two wine families in the Mosel, both of which date back centuries.
The doctor part of the name is for Dr. Peter Pauly in the 1930s, who held a Ph.D. in agricultural science.  The family has holdings in multiple villages and vineyards.

In the course of a tasting experience of perhaps 45 minutes, Monika kept presenting wine after wine in various styles of trocken or dry, feinherb or off-dry, and sweet.  We tasted more than 20 wines.  Even Mary had to start spitting.

An interesting vineyard name here in Bernkastel is the Doctor vineyard, so named because the wine from the vineyard was thought to have healing effects when consumed by a sick nobleman in medieval history.
Mary was enthralled by a swan and her swanling in the parking area next to the river.  The male member of the nesting pair was nearby.

On the recommendation of our host, we had dinner in Bernkastel at the Doctor Weinstube Restaurant.
It looks exactly the way I would expect a traditional old German restaurant to look with wood beams, carvings, and fireplace.

They definitely play to the tourist traffic.  The staff are attired in period dress.

Happily for both of us, they had fish on the menu.  I started with this very nice appetizer of rächerlachs, smoked salmon on a potato pancake.
We both ordered a roasted trout.  I was delighted but Mary was dismayed to discover it was roasted whole.  She was so cute.  “My daddy always did this for me.”  I had to de-bone it for her, which attracted a sidewise glance from our neighbors at the next table.
The wine was this delicious Pauly-Bergweiler Bernkasteler Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Feinherb 2013.  It was a feinherb (off-dry) kabinett-level wine with aromas of orchard fruit and a little citrus.  The palate was fresh and crisp with just enough residual sweetness to enhance the peach and pear fruit.  There was also a mild saline minerality that added to the balance.  It was beautiful and balanced, a gorgeous wine, and only €30, even at the restaurant price.
Here’s a market square in Bernkastel as the day came to an end.
And just behind is the famous Bernkasteler Doctor vineyard.
That’s our post for today.  We hope you enjoyed it.  It was a relaxing day in a beautiful place.  Thanks so much for reading us at Cépage et Cuisine.  Keep checking back for new posts.  As you know, we’re back home now in Plymouth, but I’ll try to post the remaining days of the adventure.  In the meantime,