Winstub: S’Thomas Stuebel, Strasbourg, Alsace

January 19, 2015

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Canal in Strasbourg

Strasbourg in autumn is very picturesque, and a great place to visit. I was lucky that I had to attend a conference and therefore had the chance to be there for a few days last year in early November.

I love this city and the wine region surrounding it: Alsace is one of my favourite French wine region. I especially love their whites, among them Riesling, Gewuerztraminer and Pinot Blanc and the Pinot Noir.

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S’Thomas Stuebel

Since I was a day early for the event, I used the Sunday afternoon for a stroll to explore the town. I had visited before. Actually my first visit was when I attended high school (or as we call it Gymnasium). Since I was in the “French branch” of my school, we went quite frequently to various places in France. We stayed at a youth hostel. Our teacher made us try some of the local wines. It was here in Strasbourg that I tasted my first Gewuerztraminer.

I was eager to visit one of the famous wine bars. Unfortunately, the S’Thomas Stuebel was closed on Sundays. I promised to come back another day. Which I did.

Winstub

The name plate at the entrance promised a truly indigenous dining experience. Something earthy, something traditional, something authentic with special dishes from the region and local wines.

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The guest chamber of the wine bar

I was not to be disappointed when I cam back a few days later on the last day of my Strasbourg visit. Together with a colleague, we intended to explore the culinary delights of the Alsace wine region. We longed for simple, peasant type of food and nothing fancy.

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A white wine served in an earthen flagon

Since my friend does not drink alcohol, a bottle was out of the question. Therefore, I ordered a 1/2 ltr. which was served in an earthen flagon. I selected a local Pinot Blanc.

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The assorted Alsatian dishes

As you can see from the photo above, we went for very basic, nutritious and hearty local food. The potatoes with ham were wonderful. The cottage cheese with garlic and onions was creamy and rich. The salads contained all the garden greens typical for the season.

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Crème brûlé

I am not a big fan of deserts, but the crème brûlé on the menue I was not willing to miss out on. I did not regret my choice. A fruit schnaps was used to make the crème brûlé, make it burn.
When we left, the taproom was filled with local diners. If you should visit Strasbourg you should not miss the S’Thomas Stuebel. Have dinner there and enjoy the local cuisine and the excellent selection of Alsatian wines.


Back from paradise

August 13, 2013

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The Mosel river near Trittenheim

In the picture above you will see the wine village of Leiwen (left). Further around the bend of the river (to the right) is the wine village of Trittenheim. This is basically the view of the Mosel you will get when you drive though the Hunsrueck mountains.

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Trittenheim, Mosel

And this was also our first view of the Mosel when we arrived in Germany for our summer vacation this year. We were mesmerized. What a splendid view, what a splendid landscape, what a splendid river, how good to be home.

From the outset let me tell you we had a great time (only about 3 weeks), and despite our at best erratic planning and our lousy preparation, we were able to line up some unique, memorable and exquisite encounters with the wine and food world.

I intend to write in more detail about most of these encounters. But let me not be too optimistic as regards the time available for blogging.

So what were the highlights of our visit?

Well, we had the best pork-knuckle ever (!) after a two hour march through the forests near the Ammersee on our way to the monastery of Andechs, a famous location for catholic pilgrims. Bavaria is a fantastic place to visit especially if the weather gods are smiling on you, and smile they did. We had warm, at times even hot, weather during the whole time of our holidays.

Along the Mosel we visited three wineries – two along the Ruwer, one on the Sauer, both tributaries of the Mosel – and had one wine tasting in Trier city at Oechsle. Wonderful, exquisite, I can only rave about the many fresh and zesty wines we had the opportunity to sample.

The wineries we visited were:

Fuerst Winery, Metzdorf, Sauer
Karthaeuserhof Estate, Eitelsbach, Ruwer
Maximin Gruenhaus C. von Schubert Winery-Estate, Mertesdorf, Ruwer

Another highlight was the visit of one of the best restaurants in the Alsace region of France. For a family lunch we went to the Auberge du Cheval Blanc in Lembach, Alsace near Wissembourg in the Vosges mountains.

Needless to say we spent many afternoon and evenings in wine bars and beer gardens, among them the wine bar Kesselstatt and the wine bar “Weinsinnig”, two of my favourite places to relax and enjoy a good glass of wine in Trier.

More soon. Stay tuned.

PS: I made some gorgeous pictures.


Best Australian Riesling 2012 – I need to try harder

February 7, 2013

Dr. Loosen Riesling

Author with a Dr. Loosen Riesling from the Mosel

As a man from the Mosel, I love the Riesling wines grown on the steep slopes of the valley. This is not to say that there are no other good Riesling wines elsewhere.

I also love the Rieslings from Rheinhessen, the Rheingau, the Pfalz and Alsace of course. When it comes to Riesling wines from my adopted home Australia, I still had not the necessary exposure which I very much regret.

Recently two Australian Rieslings won the top awards at two major wine shows in Australia. The ‘2012 Ravensworth Riesling’ a single vineyard wine produced by Ravensworth Wines, was the best wine of the 2012 Canberra International Riesling Challenge.

And the ‘2012 The Lodge Hill dry Riesling’ by Jim Barry Wines was awarded the honor of best table wine at the National Wine Show of Australia.

This is something. This is big. But what is even better is the pricing of these wines. The Ravensworth Riesling retails for A$ 20 and the Lodge Hill Dry Riesling for A$ 22. This is quality for money, I assume, and you need to buy now, because who knows how long this will last.


Wissembourg, jewel of northern Alsace

May 10, 2012

Half-timbered houses in Wissembourg opposite the cathedral of St Pierre and Paul

One of the loveliest little towns in northern Alsace is Wissembourg. During my recent visit to the Palatinate (Pfalz), the German wine region just north of Alsace, we did a side trip to see this picturesque place.

We had come after lunch just to have a little walk around town. It was a pleasant spring day with mild temperatures and some sunshine although heavy rain clowds graced the sky.

Wissembourg has about 8,000 inhabitents and was the location of various battles fought in the French revolutionary wars in 1793 between French and Austrian, Prussian, Bavarian, Hessian and other German forces. After the second battle of Wissembourg, France was able to take over the whole of Alsace. In 1870 the tables were turned. This time the Prussian forces won and made their way to Paris.

I remember that during my student days at Bonn University I once attended a play by a theatre group from Alsace. The play depicted the history of the region and how it moved from being indpendent to becoming a part of France and Germany, but that the people remained the same.

The following pictures will give you a rough idea about Wissembourg, but I suggest you go and see for yourself, stay a couple of days to also indulge in the food and wines of Alsace.

Another well preserved half-timbered house

About twenty years ago when I came to Wissembourg for the first time with my wife Margit, we almost bought a half-timbered house. We were so enchanted by these houses, that we almost could not resist to invest in such a house. They were not expensive at the time, 80-90.000 Deutschmark only. Since my brother lived and worked jsut a little north of France in southern Palatinate, we thought he and his family could live in the house. But it did not work out and we discarded the idea.

The stream crossing the town is called the “Lauter”

I would have loved to enter this restaurant but we just came from lunch

Medieval music was presented by these two bards

“Winstub” is what the sign says in the local dialect. It means wine bar

The wine bar wedged between two houses

Spring invites everybody to buy fresh flowers

Various types of bread and cake were on offer

Wine for sale

Of course wine was everywhere. I did not buy any since I had to travel and drag my suitcae around. And wine is, unfortunately, very heavy.

But I will come back to Wissembourg, that’s for sure. Maybe next July when I spend some time in my home town Trier. Not far from Wissembourg is my favourite restaurant, “Auberge du Cheval Blanc” in Lembach in the Vosges mountains.

Spring blossoms all over the place


Spring in the vineyards of Palatinate/Pfalz, Germany

May 1, 2012

The border region in Schweigen-Rechtenbach, just north of Wissembourg, Alsace

Spring is a beautiful time in the vineyard. The other day, when we visited the Southern Palatinate wine region, just north of the French border, I was able to witness the spring awakening of the vines.

It was a beautiful day; the sun was out. It was fresh and crisp, but the warmth of the earth was tangible. Needless to say, the birds were singing.

The vineyards were ready to “burst the buds” of the leaves among the fields of yellow rape seed flowers and the willow trees clad in their fresh new green.

The grass in the vineyards was already high, lush and full of vigour. Soon the first tractor will come along and mulch it.

The cane-pruned older vines looked very good, healthy and ready to go.

And the leaves were “breaking out” in full force. One could almost watch them grow with the bare eye. What a time, what a beautiful time.

Visit vineyards in spring; visit Germany now.


Domaines Schlumberger: Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés 2006

June 26, 2011

Our super market in Bangkok, the Villa Market in Thonglor, offered for a couple of weeks the ‘2006 Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés’ by Domaines Schlumberger, Alsace, France.

Pinot Blanc is not one of my favourite grape varieties but I like the wines from Domaines Schlumberger including its Pinot Blanc.. The 2006 vintage, though, needs to be drunk fast. This is why the super market offered the last batch of its remaining stock of Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés at a discount.

Instead of charging about 1,500 Bath (about 34 EURO) per bottle, the price dropped to 999 bath (about 22 EURO) which is pretty cheap for Bangkok, although wine prices are terribly high in this Asian metropolis.

If you get some of these bottles in Bangkok you must drink it fast though. Recently we had a bottle just at the edge.

I like the wine which is a a blend of 30% Pinot Blanc and 70% Auxerrois. Citrus fruit and lemon peel is what you can taste in your mouth. The wine is dry (residual sugar 5.6 gr./l) has fine acidity (3.46 gr./l), a good balance and a spritzy kind of feeling.

It can be combined with many foods but especially with Asian cuisine and seafood. In the tropics one has to make sure that the wine is appropriately cooled.

Address:
Domaines Schlumberger
100 rue Théodore Deck
68501 Guebwiller Cedex
France

Tel.: +33 3 89 74 27 00
Fax : +33 3 89 74 85 75
www.domaines-schlumberger.com


Restaurant review: Sjoebaren in Gothenburg, Sweden

September 13, 2010

While walking the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden (which is a very lovely city) where I attended an international conference, I noticed the many Japanese sushi restaurants. Well, I thought the Swedes love to eat fish; why not Japanese?

For dinner, however, my colleague Jules and I, we wanted to check out the original, a Swedish fish restaurant. The receptionist at the hotel pointed us to a couple of interesting places. We decided on a restaurant nearby, the Sjoebaren as it was called (freely translated as “seal” or “sea bear”). We were told that there are two restaurants with that name. We went to the one in Lorensberg.

The entrance of the restaurant

We had not made a booking and the place was full when we arrived. Fortunately, the waiters were very kind and accepted a booking for 20 h. We had an hour and a half of additional time to kill but that was not a problem for us (more about this later).

Kuentz-Bas, 2007 Pinot Gris Tradition from Alsace, France

It was clear, we wanted to eat fish. The first thing I selected was the wine. I opted for a ‘2007 Pinot Gris Tradition’ by Kuentz-Bas from Alsace, France. Decanter awarded 87 points to this wine.

The vintner of Kuentz-Bas is Jean-Baptiste Adam, an icon of the Alsatian wine industry. He runs his vineyards following biodynamic production methods. I am not related to Jean-Baptiste despite the coincidence with the family name.

Wine prices in Sweden are a bit on the high side. We went for only a glass. I loved the Pinot Gris. It was not overpowering, but fine and firm with a complex acidity and an impressive finish.

The starter

The herring was just too good to not order it. We did not expect what was put in front of us by the cheerful waiter. Look at that. This beautiful arrangement was just amazing. One piece of herring was marinated in a cinnamon heavy marinade, the other piece came with fish eggs on top in a white sauce. In addition we were given potatoes, onions, cream cheese and some other delicacies. I t,ell you this starter is to die for. My taste buds went ballistic. What a wonderful start to an Swedish meal.

Two kinds of herring

Fish of the day

My friend Jules ordered the fish of the day. Very tasty.

Graved lachs

I went for “graved lachs” (marinated salmon), my favourite dish from Sweden. Ever since a Swedish friend of ours had introduced us to this delicacy and ever since my wife makes her own version of it, I just cannot resist this fish. The portion was huge. And for the first time ever, I could not finish my plate. It was just to much. Unbelievable. I had to apologize to the waiter with a compliment to the kitchen.

Potatoes in dill-cream sauce

The painting in the middle of the restaurant.

Sjoebaren Lorensberg, when we left it

Sjoebaren is a hot tip if you are in Gothenburg. Do yourself a favor and treat you to something very special. The service is great, prices affordable and the quality extraordinary.