Germany – wine heaven

August 31, 2014

After about two months in Germany, we move on to our new posting in Sofia, Bulgaria. It has been an exciting time. We enjoyed the climate, the greenness, the clean air and foremost: wonderful wines.

Coming from Bangkok, one is used to a 400% luxury tax on wine, which makes the heavenly drop very, very expensive. I used to say: a 5€ bottle of German Riesling wine, a solid but basic version of it, goes for 25-30 € equivalent in Thailand.

This has a devastating effect on my finances if not carefully targeted. Well, you might argue, there is wine produced by Thai vintners in Thailand itself. Are these wines not cheaper? The answer is “no”, because domestically produced wines are also subject to the luxury tax in the kingdom.

Germany, in comparison, is wine heaven. One can consume a wine from one of the primary producers for a pittance. Say 12 – 16 € for a Riesling from one of the top producers from Mosel, Saar, Pfalz and Rheingau.

It was no surprise that I dived into it, like a fish. I tried many different wines, from Germany and many European countries. I found out that there is lots of good quality wine in the market. But, apart from the famous VPD wineries, it is hard to find the really good stuff to drink, meaning a lot of tasting is required.

Concluding I might say that the two months in Germany was not sufficient time to find my favourite “every day wines”. I console myself with the fact that in my next destination, Bulgaria, there are many excellent wines to discover. Bulgaria is a wine region I know almost nothing about, which is a good start.

Stay tuned to my next entry.

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Restaurant review: Lutter & Wegner, Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

March 25, 2013

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Lutter and Wegner, Genadarmenmarkt, Berlin

In was in the middle of the afternoon. I was on my way to a meeting when I passed by the Lutter and Wegner Restaurant at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. It was cold and windy. Snow covered the streets and sidewalks on this day in late March when everybody longed for spring.

Fortunately, I could not resist the temptation. I entered and asked a young waiter if I could just have a glass of wine. He nodded and I sat at a table opposite the entrance so that I had a good view of what was going on outside.

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My “Prosche” of a red wine

The waiter recommended an Austrian wine, a ‘2007 Imperial’ by Schloss Halbturn, Neusiedlersee. He said that this is the “Porsche” of the reds, and I decided to give it a try.

The wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blaufraenkisch and Merlot. It’s soft tannins and the delicate balance of fruit and acidity give it a exceptional elegance. It blew me away, and was indeed like a “Porsche”, fast, compact, elegant, the highest quality, just perfect.

This wine and this visit made my day. Go and check it out when you are in Berlin.

Greetings from:

Lutter&Wegner


Restaurant review: Brasserie, Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

July 30, 2012

The other day in Berlin I had a hearty meal at Brasserie Gendarmenmarkt, one of the most lovely public squares in the German capital.

The weather was very nice so we sat outside on the pavement but the inside of the restaurant is worth having a look at.

The salmon with the cream cheese was a wonderful starter. Since it was an unusual hot day, a light meal was just the right choice.

The main course was a pasta. Is the photo of the pasta with the red pepper and the greens not nice?

And I could not resist the dessert, some ice cream with a pancake. All very delicious.

I had a glass of white wine with the meal. I selected the dry Riesling from the Rheingau. It was a ‘2009 Riesling QbA dry’ by the Debus Winery in Gau-Odernheim, Rheingau.

This Riesling wine is for easy drinking, ideal on a hot summer’s day. I decided to visit the Rheingau wine region and learn more about the wines produced in this very famous part of Germany.


Urban farming and the gardening movement: Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin

December 4, 2011

A dear old friend of mine introduced me this year to “Prinzessinnengarten”, an urban garden community in the middle of Berlin.

A couple of days ago I read in the Bangkok Post, my daily newspaper, about the re-emergence of the urban gardening movement with a reference to the “Prinzessinnengarten”, and I thought, great, I have seen them in July with my own eyes.

During my student days at Bonn University, I always had a garden or was involved in some gardening venture. Usually together with some friends, we would rent a vacant plot of land in a deserted gardening colony or other public land designated for urban gardening.

We took issue with the older movement of “Schrebergaerten”, an earlier tradition of urban gardening in Germany, which we considered parochial, dull and boring. Instead we sympathised more with the tradition of the hippy and flower-power movements.

In fact our gardens were also always places for extensive garden parties with lots of alcohol and loud music.

But my gardening roots are much older than that. In fact my paternal grandfather, Hans Schuessler was the one who introduced me to gardening at the tender age of 5 or so.

Working for the railways he always maintained various gardens usually near to the rails where he grew vegetables and all kinds of fruit. He also made delicious fruit wines, and all kinds of marmalade and gelées/jellies.

“Prinzenssinnengarten” is an oasis of peace and quiet in the middle of Germany’s biggest mega-city. It offers food and drink and a wide range of entertainment as well.

The garden was set up in 2009 and it took just two years to make it into an urban paradise.

All kinds of boxes can be used to create opportunities for growing stuff

More boxes and..

..also plastic sacks to grow potatoes

…and cabbages

Crates to grow zucchini and rhubarb

Tomatoes are grown under plastic roofs

Nurseries are also included in Prinzessinnengarten

Prices are modest and the revenue generated is for a good cause

Enjoy

It is worth to visit “Prinzessinnengarten”, that’s for sure.


Culinary delight in Berlin – Currywurst

October 26, 2011

At Friedrichstrasse train station

One of the culinary delights in Berlin, the capital city of Germany is the curry sausage or ‘Currywurst’ in German. I could not resist and even tolerated the long lines of people waiting patiently for their turn to order this very “special” fast food.

The original Berlin “Currywurst”

It does not look as good as it tastes.
You can even have a glass of wine with it, though most people order a beer or a soft drink.

From the long queues, by the way, you can tell the quality of the sausage dish (this felt like Asia where the same rule applies). So do not worry, the service is rather fast and efficient. But try it when next in Berlin.


Restaurant review: Rogacki in Berlin Charlottenburg

June 30, 2011

A place I love to get lost in is “Rogacki” in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Rogacki is a kind of gourmet super market cum wine shop and eatery where you can order all kinds of delicacies, all freshly made for you. The only drawback: you have to devour it standing up.

However, the standing at tables and the counter is a very sociable undertaking. Almost immediately one gets into contact with the neigbhours and before you can count to three one is immersed in a discussion with a complete stranger.

That’s just wonderful because otherwise it is not so easy to get into a conversation with a stranger in Germany.

Rogacki offers all kinds of foods: fresh vegetables, processes meats, meats, cheese, bread, wine and all kind of complementary goods. I could spend days just studying their wares.

I ordered the above dish. The Germans call is “Crevetten Spiess”, it’s grilled prawns with some veggies. When I asked for a glass of wine, guess what wine was on offer, a Riesling from my beloved Mosel.

The ‘2010 “Gutsriesling” Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt’ is simple but solid wine for easy drinking. Rogacki serves it exactly for that purpose and I was happy to reconect to my home at the Moel river here in Berlin only about 70-80 kilometers from the Polish border.

How I miss my native Mosel valley.

PS: When I visited Rogacki last year, I was asked by the staff not to take photos. It was forbidden. Therefore I decided not to write about Rogacki and its most delicious food. This time no such rule was imposed on me.

The place is a “must see” if you are in Berlin and want to experience the flair of the city and “real food”.

Address:
Rogacki
Wilmersdorfer Straße 145
10585 Berlin-Charlottenburg, Germany
Tel.: +49-30 343825-0
Open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm
Subway: Bismarckstraße
www.rogacki.de


Berlin – German spring

March 17, 2011

Spring is in the air in Germany. Although still cold, the sun has warmed the earth and the rain has helped to moisten the otherwise dry Berlin soil so that some early spring flowers can raise “their colours”.

The bird know that winter is basically gone, and that spring is in the air. Their cheerful songs are filling the air in the mornings and evenings. It’s just beautiful.