Uncategorized

A most unusual wine stand in Breckenheim!

Bill came home yesterday morning, after having spent most of the work week in our old stomping grounds, Stuttgart. We were all glad to see him, especially Arran, who looked pretty pissed off when Bill dropped off his bag and headed to work. I wish I’d had the camera with me to take a picture of Arran sitting there, staring up at Bill with his big eyes, as if to say “And just where do you think YOU’RE going?”

It wasn’t so bad, though, because he came back home early, and then we decided to go to the wine stand in our village. It was being held in the parking lot between the Rathaus and the little elementary school that I’ve heard is going to be torn down in the next year or so. A new school is being built on the other end of town. I don’t look forward to that, since it will bring noise, construction, and more traffic to our already congested street. But as I am just an American, and not even an ordinary resident, at that, my opinion is pretty irrelevant.

I’ve mentioned before that our Dorfplatz, which is where the stands are usually held, is unusable right now, because a toilet facility is being erected. It seems strange to put a public toilet in the Dorfplatz, especially since the Rathaus is just up the hill, and there are toilets there. We live so close to the Dorfplatz that when we have to pee, we just go home. Nevertheless, the powers that be decided that a new toilet facility is necessary. So that means the wine stands had to be moved. The good thing is, they’ve been moved even closer to our house! It’s even easier to stumble home!

We don’t always attend the wine stands, mainly because they get crowded, and it’s just as easy to drink our own wine in our backyard. I wanted to go last night, though, because I could hear the lovely dulcet sounds of a pop choir called Die Weinseeligen. I’m wondering if the people who performed last night were the ones who were supposed to perform a couple of weeks ago. The wine stand was canceled then, because several of the members had COVID. They sounded healthy last night, as the tennis club hosted the biweekly fundraiser, which also offers a great opportunity for the community to come together and mingle. The wine stands weren’t allowed during the height of the COVID mess, so it’s been great having them again.

We saw one of the American ladies we met at the last wine stand. She said her partner was quarantining, because she had gone back to the USA to drill for the National Guard, and came back just in time to catch the virus. Apparently, she’s now recovered from the sickness, but still faintly tests positive. My guess is that she’s simply more introverted than her partner is, and would rather hang out at home. I can understand that. Not everyone wants to hang out in a big crowd. I feel that way myself a lot of the time.

I did take a few videos and photos, which I’m sharing below. Bill and I had a great time breaking my alcohol fast. The weather was wonderful; the wine was good; and although we didn’t partake of the food, it looked like they had some good offerings. I saw a guy walking by with smoked salmon sandwiches, which is a departure from the usual pretzels, brats, and broetchen that are usually offered at these events! The video isn’t the best, because it was crowded, and I was drinking. But it does offer an idea of how the choir sounded, and the atmosphere of the event. We love the wine stands, which we never had in either of the towns we lived in near Stuttgart. Down there, we had more Biergartens, and they weren’t standing events, like they are up here in Wiesbaden.

It took a minor miracle to upload this video… and it may not even be worth viewing. But we did have fun, as you can tell.

I have written a couple of well received blog posts about the differences between life in Stuttgart versus life in Wiesbaden. I think this is one thing I like about Wiesbaden. Folks seem friendlier and more social here, and it’s easier to get to know people. Or, at least that’s how it seems. That’s not to say that there aren’t friendly people in Stuttgart. There are. It’s just a different culture. There’s actually a lot I really miss about Stuttgart… but I am glad we had the opportunity to move to Hesse, because it gives us a whole different experience of living in Germany, and that’s a beautiful thing.

When our bladders had enough wine, we went home and hung out in the backyard, where we could still hear the choir a little bit. The temperature was perfect, and it was just so nice to have Bill home again. I even gave my German friend from the Stuttgart a thrill by posting in German on Facebook, without any help from Google Translate! Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Standard
laws

I really like this about Germany…

It’s a chilly Saturday, here in Germany. It’s also a holiday weekend. We don’t have any special plans for today, other than to receive wine we ordered last weekend at the wine fest. So I thought maybe today, I’d write about something I’ve noticed and really appreciate about living in Germany. Below is a photo that was shared in a local Facebook group. Someone had seen this solution in a Swabian town– maybe down near Stuttgart– and wondered if it would be a good idea for up here in Hesse.

This keeps the pizza boxes out of the trash cans, so they don’t fill up so fast.

I noticed a few people were a little snarky. One person said this was not a good idea, since people shouldn’t be eating so much pizza. Another said they thought this was “stupid”, since it seemed like overkill for what shouldn’t be a problem. But a couple of people wrote that they thought this was a good idea, and even went as far to do some rudimentary research into how this could be accomplished. Below are their translated comments.

Hmm: The way it looks, this is made of weatherproof sieve pressure plates, only the cutting edges have to be sealed. I see stainless steel screws wouldn’t be a problem now either. If they sponsor the material, I can build a few for free.

Another person wrote: the pizzerias could also sponsor…

I was at Globus today and investigated the material costs: a box would cost around €100. So the idea is feasible As far as regulations, regulations, assessments, TÜV and other rules are concerned, of course I have no plan.

Someone else wrote that this is already a thing in the Allgau area, and it works well. Quite a few people were very positive in their remarks, and thanked the original poster for the suggestion. And, much to my amazement, people were actually coming together to see how they could make this idea come to fruition. Yes, there were a couple of American styled cynical comments that were sort of rude and dismissive, but for the most part, people seemed optimistic and wanting to make something nice for the community.

Last week, I shared the photos of the repurposed gumball machines that now sell “bee bombs”, so people can improve their gardens and give the bees something good to eat. That’s a good thing for everyone, and it keeps retired gumball machines out of the trash.

I also like that here in Germany, people aren’t allowed to run amok with weapons. I feel a lot safer here, because fewer people are armed and dangerous, and it’s a lot less likely that some nut is going to shred my vital organs with ammunition fired from their “sexy” AR-15 rifles that they can buy with ease at any gun dealer. Here, to have a weapon for hunting and fishing, you have to prove you’re sane and know how to use the weapon safely. And you can’t just get whatever gun you want, either.

It’s true that some laws in Germany seem a little ridiculous… like the one that forbids people to flip off drivers on the Autobahn, or the laws that can make someone liable if, for instance, they illegally use pepper spray intended for an animal on a person who is attacking them. Bill recently told me about a guy who needed legal help because he got charged with hit and run for running into a guy who was trying to steal his car. I have also heard about people getting in legal trouble for hurting people who were committing crimes, though that could be anecdotal. And yes, I have also heard horror stories about people buying homes and not being able to evict the previous owners until they are ready to move. It seems that self-defense is less of a thing here. At least that’s how it seems, based on some of the anecdotes I’ve heard.

By and large, Germany is a very nice place to live. The more I see what’s going on at home, the more grateful I am that we live over here. And that gives me an interesting perspective, particularly when it comes to immigration issues in the United States. I am often impressed by the sense of community here. I wish there was more of it back home. I’m tired of seeing how polarized people are… and the collective, “I’ve got mine, so screw you” attitude so many people seem to have. On the other hand, although I understand why some people get frustrated and react with self-righteous indignation when they butt heads with someone on the other side of an issue, I don’t think self-righteous indignation is helpful in reaching compromises or inspiring cooperation.

Anyway… I like that they discuss things like making pizza box slots to help keep the trash cans from overflowing. It’s nicer to see those discussions, than contentious discussions about gun rights and abortion. It also helps that Germany is clean, safe, and beautiful, and has educated people who have basic decency and compassion for others. I admire the Germans. They’ve done a lot of growing. I wish more Americans would.

Standard
Uncategorized

When the village comes together for WINE!

A few days ago, I noticed someone in our local Facebook group had posted that there would be a wine stand this week. I immediately told Bill, who was delighted by the news. He loves going to the wine stands. I like them, too. Our village used to have them every other week in the warmer months as a fundraiser for local clubs. But then we had COVID-19 to deal with, and for over a year, there were no wine stands. We did have one last fall at the very end of the season, but COVID restrictions were still pretty heavy at that time. They are now loosening somewhat, even though a lot of people in Germany are still getting the virus. We were supposed to have “freedom day” last weekend, but Hesse and a number of other states have decided to prolong the measures until at least April 2. Last night’s shindig was delightfully rule free. No one was checking for vaccines, and not many people bothered with masks. We’ll see if Bill and I get sick in the next few days (knock on wood). We stayed away from the crowded areas.

Nevertheless, we did manage to attend last night’s wine stand, in spite of Noyzi’s protests. I think he was just confused because I wore my blue Longwood sweatshirt, which I usually wear when I walk the dogs. He was insisting on trying to come with us. It’s not that he wouldn’t have been welcome, either. The wine stands are very kid and dog friendly. It’s just that he’s still so skittish around people he doesn’t know… and it’s not fun to drink wine while dealing with a restless dog his size. As for Arran, he just gets cranky when he’s around a lot of people, even though he’s friendly.

Noyzi is making some progress in the friend making department. We ran into the proprietor of the local Italian restaurant, pictured in the photos below. The guy likes dogs, and Bill later told me that he worked with a dog rescue. Noyzi could tell he was a friendly and kind man, so he let the guy pet him and even tried to engage in play with him. It was so cute! I love watching Noyzi turn into a confident, happy pooch.

Last night’s stand offered brats and lots of local wines from Hochheim am Main, located very close to Breckenheim. Everybody seemed to be in a good mood… the atmosphere was even friendlier and congenial than usual. I think it’s because the wine stands used to be so much more frequent than they are now. People were definitely ready to mingle. The sign for the stand went up early this week– earlier than usual. And, as you can see, it was well attended! We stayed for about 90 minutes or so… long enough to try all of the wines. Then we came home– it was about a five minute walk. The boys were very happy to see us.

I hope the wine stands are back to stay, even though I usually have a headache on the mornings after!

Standard
Uncategorized

Our neighborhood wine gathering…

Last night, our community had another one of its wine stands.  It seemed like there was a different crowd last night as they were selling a locally produced wine.  The first one we tried was called Breckenheim Riesling, which is made right near our neighborhood.

Bill enjoys his first vino… It was made in our town.

The vintner came around with this flyer for his next event.  

As usual, we were joined by more locals… older folks who didn’t know English.  It’s good for me to get out and talk to the locals in my badly fractured German.  I may still sound like a simpleton when I speak German, but listening to others speak it helps me understand more.  It’s even better practice for Bill, who does speak some German.  Last night, we sat with a man from Frankfurt.  He wore a t-shirt from Norway and said that he speaks Norwegian.  He showed us pictures from his latest fishing trip there.  I can’t imagine having this experience in the Stuttgart area.  Down there, it seemed like it took much longer to get to know people.

Another event coming up soon.

Last night’s price list.  We didn’t have any cheese for the pretzels, though.  I was disappointed.  The wines were good… even the red.  I typically like German whites more than reds.

This was an apple Sekt.  We had the rose.  I really enjoyed it.  In fact, I liked it enough that Bill bought a bottle for home.  It had kind of a cherry essence.

The wine stand was well attended last night… standing room only.  We made an arriving couple smile when we gave up our seats to go home for dinner.

 

One thing I really like about the wine stand is that it brings out the community.  It’s nice to see so many people saying hello and being friendly with each other.  I get the sense many of these people have known each other for a long time.  It’s quite a contrast with Baden-Württemberg, where I found people to be more reserved and chilly, even among locals.

Our local church.  This is another thing I like about Germany in general.  They have local churches like this one.  It’s very communal.  Every day, I hear the bells.

This bee decided to take a sip from my glass.  It’s illegal to kill bees in Germany, so I was happy to let it drink and move on.

The other direction.  I’ve started walking the dogs this way, even though the sidewalks are very narrow and the traffic is formidable.

 

The next wine stand is in two weeks, but we will be in Scotland.

Standard
Germany

Spundekäs!

We had another wine stand last night.  I didn’t take very many pictures because, at this point, that would be boring and redundant.  However, I did want to make a quick post about the local delicacy I tried for the first time last night.

This is Spundekäs.  It’s a local speciality and great drunk food!

 

I don’t usually eat cheese dips, mainly because unless the cheese is very mild, I often find it offensive to my palate.  I also don’t like the texture of many cheeses.  I was persuaded to give this a try last night when I kept noticing little kids eating it.  Kids often have very sensitive tastebuds, so I figured if they liked it, I probably would too.

I sent Bill to get some, although he was reluctant at first.  Usually, with anything involving cold cheese, he’s on his own.  I promised him I’d try it, reminding him that I’ve successfully tried Burrata more than once.  I also like pretzels, so if need be, I could eat it plain.  He fetched a pretzel with Spundekäs, which came topped with sweet paprika and raw onions.  What can I say?  I loved it!  In fact, we had some left over, so I even sent Bill to get another pretzel.

Spundekäs is a Mainz speciality.  It’s cheese spread made with quark and seasoned with sweet paprika, salt, and pepper.  It’s often served with pretzels, crackers, or other breaded delights, and paired with Riesling wines.  It went very well with what people were drinking last night.

I was wondering if this snack was related to Handkäse, which I was first introduced to at a beer tasting party in Stuttgart.  The hostess was from Hanau, which is in Hesse.  She said she loved her hand cheese and didn’t mind if others didn’t, since it meant there was more for her.  Evidently, the raw onions served with these cheeses cause people to fart, which is why Handkäse is served “mit Musik”. The music comes from your ass.

Spundekäs is evidently much milder than Handkäse, which is often marinated in vinegar and has a pungent aroma.  I admit I haven’t tried Handkäse yet, and based on its description, I probably wouldn’t like it much.  However, I do like Spundekäs!  I found a recipe for it here.

We had a great time drinking wine with our neighbors last night.  That’s one thing I really like about our new community.  They have these awesome wine stands where people can chat and get to know each other.  It’s very friendly and communal and quite different from our experiences in Baden-Württemberg, where you’re more likely to find a fest involving beer.  Not that I mind a beer centered fest, either!  But neither of the towns we lived in in BW had these regularly scheduled wine stands hosted by different groups raising funds for their club activities.  They’d have other events like onion festivals or Schlachtfests.

I’m grateful we’ve had the chance to experience another part of Germany.  I don’t know how long our adventure is going to continue, so I’m trying not to take it for granted.  I suppose the next thing I need to try is green sauce, which is a Frankfurt speciality.  I have tried some Bill made, but it might be fun to get some at a restaurant made by a local… or maybe even attend a festival surrounding it.

Last night’s wine festival was a success, despite the stormy weather and everyone crowded under the umbrellas despite the wind and rain.  We also ran into our landlady, who was very happy to see us!  She’s a really nice lady, always cordial and welcoming.

I don’t know what we’ll do today.  We’ll see what turns us on.

Standard
Uncategorized

Communal wine drinking, take two…

Last night, there was another wine stand in our village.  Although it rained all day, the precipitation stopped by the late afternoon.  Even if it hadn’t stopped, the little “Festplatz” in our village has umbrellas over the tables, and, anyway, many Germans don’t believe in bad weather, just bad clothing.  The weather was warmer than it was two weeks ago, which was nice.

Bill and I stopped in for a couple of glasses.  Here are a few photos.

We got there early enough to get a table.  Once again, it wasn’t until the place filled up that anyone sat with us.  We felt a little like lepers, but I’m sure the locals will come around.  They were selling pretzels and “Fleischkaese” sandwiches last night.  Fleischkaese is basically German style meatloaf, although it reminds me a bit of very high quality Spam.  We stuck with wine.

It’s election time, so there were lots of political posters.

It got pretty busy after about an hour.  I enjoyed watching people mingle.  It’s obviously a lot of the folks in this village are friends, some of whom have been here awhile.  I saw lots of hugging, kissing, and heard plenty of laughter among familiar people.  It was nice to be among such community and people with genuine regard for each other.

Bill looks darling.  I played him my latest recording… a new song I just learned yesterday morning.  I think it doubled as a mating call.  I’ll need to polish it a bit, but I think it’s a keeper… just like he is.

He bought that Sekt for me, but wanted to try it.  It was very tasty, as was the red wine that had an essence of fresh strawberries.  This was actually our second round.

And this was our first.  I had a semi sweet white, while he had more Riesling.  It’s hard to believe we didn’t drink German wines when we came here the first time.  There are some definite good ones.  You just need to pick the right grape varietal.

We would have stayed longer, but we both needed to pee.  Although toilets were available at the local community center, it’s so close to our house that it’s just as easy to go home.  Going home means arousing the dogs.  We have a big day today, anyway, because we’re going to Kaiserslautern to test drive cars.  So it was an early night, but an amusing one.  I’m glad we chose to move to Breckenheim.  Hope we can stay awhile.

Standard