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.

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Lantenhammer Distillery, Bavaria, Germany

March 2, 2011

We were lucky. At he last Christmas basar at the German Embassy, we were able to buy two bottles of German “Obstbrand” or fruit brandy produced by Lantenhammer. From the different fruits on offer (pear, peach, plum and others), we choose “sloe” or blackthorn (prunus spinosa or German: Schlehen).

The sloe or blackthorn bush, a deciduous scrub or little tree which grows up to five meters tall, produces small blue berries which are rather inedible, tart and astringent, if consumed fresh. But after a hard frost when the tannins are withdrawn and if processed (as jam for instance) they give a wonderful aroma. Distilled they make a delicious “eau de vie”/fruit brandy, great for your stomach after a rich meal.

The Lantenhammer Sloe brandy

The Lantenhammer Distillery is located in southern Bavaria at the very picturesque lake Schliersee. The boutique Distillery was founded in 1928 and is run by the Stetter family since generations. To produce artisan products of the highest quality is the aim of the family business. Most of the work is done by hand. Andrea and Florian Stetter organise the family business with the help of 20 employees.

Our resolution: next year we will buy much more, maybe a whole box of different fruit brandies.

Address:
Lantenhammer Distillery
Obere Tiefenbachstraße 8
83734 Hausham, Germany
Tel.: +49-8026-9248-0
www.lantenhammer.de


A memorable visit to Andechs, Upper Bavaria

July 22, 2009

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Fields near the monastery of Andechs, Upper Bavaria

Although right now I am sitting on our family vineyard in Glenburn, Victoria, I have to post this little story and my impressions from a visit to the monastery of Andechs, Ammersee in Upper Bavaria. Maria and Christian took me there on a Sunday in early July. We drove up from Fischen. It was my very first visit to this famous place of worship and beer brewing. I will disappoint the wine freaks among you again but Andechs is not known for its wine but its beer.

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Gate with beer mugs on the way from the car park to the monastery

When you walk up to the monastery church from the car park, you pass the above gate, with one litre beer mugs above your head. “Look up folks”, it says, this is what you are aspiring to: litres and litres of Germany’s finest beers.

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The church

The church is, as many churches in Bavaria, built in Baroque style. I found it very pretty.

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The inside of the church

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Carl Orff is buried here

Who does not know the “Carmina Burana” and the famous composer, Carl Orff who was a native of Diessen, Ammersee just a couple of kilometres from here. He is buried in Andechs. I liked the inscription of the stone: Summus finis, which freely translates as “everything ends”.

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Music festivals honouring Carl Orff are looming

Maria and Christian were to attend the music festival that very evening, while I had to catch my plane back to Bangkok. I would have loved to join them and give Bangkok a miss, but…

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Droves of people came to enjoy lunch at Andechs

The monasteries “Gastwirtschaft”, Bavarian country inn style was full of people. We had, of course, lunch there. Christian and I, we shared a pork knuckle (they are just too big). A litre of dark brown beer was just the right drink to wash it down.

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Pork knuckle divided into two

I just love to eat pork knuckle. It was delicious. What a great visit that was. I am so grateful to my friends for taking me to Andechs.

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A Bavarian litre mug

Andechs is a great place. If you are travelling in Bavaria this summer, please budget some time for a visit. it is definitely worth it.


Beautiful Bavaria: Fischen, Ammersee

July 14, 2009

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Photo of the Ammersee and the church in Diessen, just opposite of Fischen

After the visiting program for our MPs from Malaysia had come to an end in Munich, I had just about 24 hours before my return flight to Bangkok. I decided to visit good old friends from our time in Jakarta: Maria and Christian Hegemer who live in Fischen, a small hamlet at the Ammersee, one of the Upper Bavarian lakes. Fischen is part of the village of Pähl and was first mentioned in a deed in 776. The region is a very popular recreation area just about 45 minutes from Munich and attracts many tourists.

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Community members assembling in traditional Bavarian dress

Christian picked me up from the train station. What a happy reunion that was. I was lucky that the villagers had planned a village event. They had hired one of the larger cruising boats for an afternoon on the lake. The local brass band entertained the 200 guests. I was, what we call in Australia a “ring in” but was warmly welcomed.

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The Fischen Brass Band

We got on to the boat in Herrsching, then went south to Fischen and turned north on the other side of the lake. The scenery is very lovely, green forests, villages, churches and many beautiful lakeside houses. It was a wonderful summer’s day with bright blue sky. The brass band played jolly good music. The villagers were cheerful and we had a great time on the boat.

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Christian and Maria

The natural drink in Bavaria is beer, though wine was also on offer. It came from Wachau, Austria, was drinkable though not a memorable drop.

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The tour ended in the early evening. Shortly before we landed in Herrsching a fire works greeted us. The evening concluded in the inn of Maria’s brother Beni (Benedict) in Aidenried where Christian shared a cheese platter with me. More beers found their way into my stomach. It was a most wonderful day in Upper Bavaria.


Out into the cold into another kind of warmth

December 1, 2008

I safely made it. I took the bus from “occupied” Bangkok to Phuket, a ten hours drive south, and got on to the plane which would carry me out of Thailand to my native land: Germany. It was not for pleasure, business dragged me back to Berlin where an important meeting waited for me which I had to attend to.

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The flight to freedom from Phuket Airport

There was only one seat left on the LTU-Air Berlin flight to Munich. I did not feel too comfortable among the lucky tourists who got out of Thailand without being stuck like the other 100,000 fellow tourists. My main question was: Will my family be safe? Will I get back? The future will tell.

Twelve hours later, we landed in Munich. From the air, the southern German landscape looked like a magic land, covered in beautiful white snow, it promised cold but also the warmth of fire places with a good glass of wine in hands. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera at hand to take a picture of the land under the snow cover. The scent of Christmas was in the air. The scent of family reunions and joyous celebrations.

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Since I had about 5 hours until my connecting flight to Berlin would leave, I went straight into an airport restaurant and ordered a knuckle of pork and a Bavarian “wheat” beer (Weizenbier). The Christmas decoration reminded me of the coming festive season.

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I was ready for adventure, bought the latest issue of “Weinwelt”, a German wine magazine, and dreamt about the many wines I would taste in the days to come.


Restaurants in Germany – Hotel Prinzregent, Munich-Riem

June 25, 2008

Bavaria is just such a beautiful place. I just cannot get enough of it. Especially at this time of the year travelling around Upper Bavaria is truly enjoyable. Even sub-urban places such as Riem have their charm. I stayed in a small hotel at the outskirts of Munich to attend a conference at the Messe Zentrum (the fair).

The very first evening, I asked the receptionist where one could have a decent bite of food, preferable Bavarian style and I was pointed into the direction of the Hotel Prinzregent (www.prinzregent.de), in fact a country inn style place along the main street in Riem. The ‘guest room’ of the public bar part was fairly busy at a Friday evening.

The Bavarian country inn – Hotel Prinzregent

As it was my first evening back in Germany I could not resist ordering a pork roast Bavarian style with ‘Semmelknoedeln’, a kind of cooked carbohydrates made from leftover bread crumbs. It was so delicious I completely forgot to take pictures for my blog. I drank wheat beer with the meal though the Prinzregent has a nice wine list available. For dessert, which I usually do not have, I had ‘Apfelkuechle’, a kind of apple backed in a doe and seasoned with raisin. After that mighty meal I was exhausted and went to bed early.

The pasta

The very next day I came back to enjoy some more of the delicious food at the Prinzregent. Unfortunately, I did not order the roasted pork again (I should have) but went for a vegetarian pasta dish. It was ok but could not match the pork. The side salad was fresh and tasty.

The salad

This time I tried some of the white wines with my food. First I ordered a Riesling from, of course, the Mosel. A ‘2006 Weingut Schmitges dry Riesling from grey slates’ was my choice. It is a young but very enjoyable wine, typical for the region, elegant, displaying aromas of citrus and green apples, a fruity, minerally kind of wine.

For my second glass I choose a Sylvaner from the native lands of my mother, Franconia (the most northerly part of Bavaria). Horst Sauer is one of the icons of the vintners and winemakers from Franconia. His ‘2006 Eschendorfer Lump’ is just divine. The Germans like to describe a wine as “filigran”, which my dictionary says means “lacy” or “filigree”. I do not know if that makes sense to you. Anyway, the wine shows the typical Franconian character, is complex and fine, well balanced, has a good structure and a lingering finish. The prices for the wines were not on the cheap. The fellow at the next table turfed the idea of having a glass of wine after he saw the prices. Well, I was in a festive mood that day and did not bother.

White sausages Bavarian style, isn’t this beautiful?

My last meal at this wonderful place I enjoyed sitting in the large beer garden under very old chestnut trees reminiscing about the wonderful time I had in Bavaria. It was rather a late breakfast than lunch and therefore I ordered the typical Bavarian “white sausages” which is eaten with sweat mustard. A wheat beer matches that perfectly. Sorry you wine folks.

Address:
Hotel Prinzregent an der Messe
Riemer Strasse 350
81829 Munich
Te.: +49-89-94539-0
http://www.prinzregent.de


“Just off the boat….”

June 7, 2008

Colleagues from afar (fltr. Rainer, Sagarica, Joerg, Annemie, Philipp)

I attended a work conference in Potsdam near Berlin. The very first day, I went out with some colleagues to have lunch. We found a Bavarian Beer garden restaurant, usually no place to have a decent wine but plenty of good beers in big glasses. Wheat beet or “Weissbier” is one of my favorites.

Bavarian Wheat beer

May is asparagus time in Germany, usually enjoyed with a glass of white wine, maybe a Pinot Gris or Blanc, or a Riesling. Not so in a Bavarian environment, of course, but the beer was delicious too.

Asparagus, ‘old German style’

A typical Bavarian “snack” is “white sausages” served with sweet mustard. Well, Potsdam is far away from Bavaria so the sweet mustard was missing in this case.

Bavarian “Weisswuerste”

White and blue are the colours of Bavaria. Next time you find yourself in a Bavarian environment, try out some of the special local dishes.