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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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.


Hosting the vintner – with Timo Mayer at Patara in Bangkok

November 3, 2009

I admit, we take all our friends traveling through Bangkok to our favorite Thai restaurant if time permits. Patara is Thailand’s best restaurant and was awarded the corresponding prize for this achievement in 2009. We just love to dine there.

When Timo Mayer and his two daughters came through Bangkok we were pleased to have them for a couple of days and show them around. The Mayers’ came from Germany where Timo was helping with some wine-making in his native village near Stuttgart. He was also selling some of his Australian wine in various places (London for instance).

He was loaded with different bottles of very unique wines some of which we tasted together at various occasions. But one evening was reserved for fine Thai cuisine. Patara sent his tucktuck taxi service to pick us up from our home in Thonglor.

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The colorful entrees

We decided that we would order the food and Timo would choose the wine. As always we started with the three colorful delicacies shown above. Somehow I had problems taking clear and crisps shots of the food that evening. But you can look up earlier posts in this blog where you can find some more photos of the various Patara signature dishes.

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Happy diners

Timo selected the ‘2007 “Hugel” Riesling’ the classic wine from Hugel & Fils from Alsace. Jean Hugel, the senior vintner and wine-maker of this pioneer family of wine-making in Alsace was a legend and had passed away only in June this year.

I had never tasted their wines before and was very excited about the choice. Hugel and Fils maintain not only a very informative website but also an entertaining blog. I had visited Riquewihr, the picturesque Alsatian village where the winery is located many years ago (actually decades ago).

As a high-school student I had visited Alsace and its villages with my school and tasted my first Gewuerztraminer ever. A couple of years later I had seen a play at my “alma mater”: the Bonn University music and arts festival telling the story of the Alsace in three languages. After that my fascination with Alsace was complete. I had the chance to visit several times but mainly the north of the region. Our favorite destination was a restaurant, Au Cheval Blanc near Wissembourg but this is another story.

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The ‘2007 Hugel Riesling’

The ‘2007 “Hugel” Riesling’ is a very fine wine, young and vibrant. 2007 was a good vintage because the grapes had the opportunity to ripen for the longest time ever and therefore the grapes were very healthy. As a consequence the wines show great elegance and balance. The wine is fruity with mineral notes, a typical Alsatian Riesling with the characteristic petrol note. I love Riesling with Thai food.

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After we “demolished” the food

Our evening was great fun. The culinary delights of Thailand are just “breathtaking” for the palate. I can only highly recommend the restaurant. I love the atmosphere and the professional and friendly service.

We talked a lot about Timo’s German visit, his impressions, the adventures and, of course, wine. But when friends from afar visit, time flies. That’s how it was. Hours shrink to seconds and in a blimp of the eye it’s gone.

Address:
Patara Fine Thai Cuisine
375 Soi Thonglor 19 Sukhumvit 55, Klongtonnua Vadhana, Bangkok 10110
Tel. +66-2185 2960-1 Fax. +66-2185 2962
www.patarathailand.com