Wild boar the German way – fine dining with fine wines and best friends

October 31, 2012

As you know, I like to eat game of all kind. The best wild boar I have eaten in a long time was served to me by my good old friend Ulrich Hillejan and his wife Elfriede when we visited them this summer near Muenster. The so called Muensterland is a very picturesque agricultural region right north of the former industrial heartland of the Ruhr.

Ulrich comes from a tranditional farming family which goes back a couple of hundred years (he keeps very impressive records). He inherited one of the traditional farm houses away from the manor house, just outside the nearby village.

His mother (I call her aunty Doris) prepared for us the leg of a young wild boar, shot by Ulrich’s younger brother Georg. Let me say from the outset that this was the best piece of game I have ever eaten. I asked her to tell me the secret of this delicacy. Her instructions were rather sketchy. I figured that mustard plays a central role. The meat needs to be rubbed carefully with a mustard-pepper-salt potion.

The following photos show what we had for dinner. Of course the side dish with the carbs consisted of good German potatoes.

The potatoes

The young wild boar’s leg

On the plate

And after….

Needless to say that we had various kinds of delicious wines with our meal. We started the extensive tasting with a white wine, a fresh Gruener Veltliner from Weingut Setzer, Austria. The Setzer winery was decoreated with the “winery of the year 2013” award.

The estate has about 30 ha under vines and produces a wide variety of wines. Main grape variety are Gruener Veltliner, and red Veltliner. Recently, Hans Setzer, owner-operater of the estate, was awarded with the “Vinter of the year award” for 2013. With its low (11%) alcohol content, this wine is wonderful for warm summer days. It is refreshing and shows great temperament.

Gruener Veltliner Vesper, Austria

Knipser Riesling, Pfalz

We followed up with a German dry Riesling by the well-known Knipser Estate in Laumersheim, Pfalz.In 2009 the winery was awarded the “vintner-of-the-year” award by Gault Millau.

The ‘2001 Laumersheimer Kapellenberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken’ was just the right wine to complement the meal. I like the minerally note and the tropical fruit aromas.

Barbera and Nebbiolo blend by Villa Contessa Rosa

Mid-term through the meal, we changed colour and switched to a red wine from Italy. Villa Contessa Rosa has currently about 70 ha under vines. The blend of Barbera and Nebbiolo, produced in the wine region Langhe, was also a good accompliment to the wild boar.

The meat from the forest animal and the red and Forest berry aromas from the wine went well together. Below you see the colour of the drop from heaven.

From here on I lost track of the wines we sampled in the course of the evening. There were a few more red wines, but honestly I cannot recall what they were and where they came from.

The generosity of our hosts knew no bounds, I might say (thank you again Ulrich and Elfriede). It was a terrific evening of reminiscing about the past and making plans for the future.


Country living: The good life in Ramsdorf, Westphalia

May 31, 2009

The land

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The Münsterland, Westphalia is not exactly a wine region. People in this rather flat but beautiful rural part of Germany, just an hours drive from the Industrial heartland of the Ruhr (the drive can be as short as 30 minutes only), prefer to drink beer and “Korn”, a spirit also called “Schnaps” distilled from wheat and other grains.

The farm houses are made of red bricks, have large wooden doors, usually green, high gables and are just magnificent. They stand alone within the land belonging to them, accompanied by large stables and barns, all erected in the same style, a wonderful sight. I went there to visit my friends Uli and Elfriede in a small hamlet called Ramsdorf.

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My friends Uli and Elfriede’s house, formerly a cottage of the estate (from the back)

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The backside with the outdoor furniture

The Food

As the people so the food, one could say. Rural people everywhere developed healthy, nutritional type of foods; no-nonsense stuff, usually based on the raw materials the land has to offer. So the Münsterlaender cuisine has a lot of sausages, ham and various kinds of meats, served with potatoes, and green vegetables.

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The table in the patio

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Beautiful beef

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Fresh asparagus in a special asparagus cooker

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The finished product: asparagus

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The finished product: the steaks

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Our meal of asparagus, potatoes, ham and a steak with melted butter

The wines

We did of course also drink wine with this delicious meal. We started while the asparagus was still cooking with a ‘2008 Knipser Sauvignon Blanc dry’ by Weingut Knipser, Pfalz, a wonderful wine, fresh, fruity with structure and depth.

The brothers Volker and Werner Knipser (and since 2005 Stephan, Werner’s son) are the owners of this vineyard and winery in Laumersheim, Pfalz. The family operates the estate since 1876. Today about 40 ha are under vines. The brothers were the first in this part of the Pfalz to use small barriques barrels to mature their wines. They also increased the area under red varieties and replanted with high quality rootlings. In 2009 the were awarded “Vintner of 2009” by Gault Millau for their innovative ways and their high quality wines. My first Knipser wine, I drank many years ago when living in Beijing. My friend Norbert Finkel, a journalist from the Pfalz, introduced me to the Knipser wines long before they became fashionable.

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‘2008 Knipser Sauvignon Blan dry’ in the bottle

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..and in the glass

After the white, we longed for some red and went out into the shed where Uli stores his wines. Here we unearthed an old wooden box with red wines from Bordeaux, France.

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Treasure trove

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The chosen one

We selected a ‘1994 Château de Sales’, a Bordeaux blend from Pomerol, France. Uli de-cantered the wine, the drop was excellent but needed to be drunk. So we had “discovered” it at the right time. The blend was full flavoured, with structure and harmonious tannins and very enjoyable with our food. The wine sells on the internet in the UK for £ 30-35 and in continental Europe for about the same amount but in €.

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The top of the capsule

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The cork

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Uli de-cantering the Bordeaux

We finished the evening with an Italian wine, a ‘2006 Vietti Nebbiolo Parabacco’ from Langhe, Piedmont in Italy. That was quite a change from the Bordeaux. The wine was rich and complex. It showed well balanced tannins which were chewy at the finish, just great for a red. What a pleasurable wine to end a very pleasurable day with my friends in the Münsterland.

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The Nebbiolo bottle from Vietti

The people

I quickly introduce my friends, the three Hillejan families. Georg and Barbara are the farmers, aunt Doris, the mother of Georg and Ulrich, and Ulrich and Elfriede, my old friends from University days. I used to work on the farm as an intern during my students days when Uli’s father Alfons was running the estate. I loved to work for uncle Alfons. He was a great man. But I did not only work but also play there. We celebrated quite a few events (a few weddings among others) on that farm, had wild parties and a great time playing farmers.

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Georg, aunt Doris, Ulrich, Barbara and Elfriede on the veranda of the old farm house

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Three men on a mission, Ulrich, me and Georg