Here’s a quick photo dump and a few paragraphs about our eleventh Christmas in Germany. We have now spent half our marriage in this beautiful country, but the Christmases have been epic– 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and now 2022… Oh, okay, technically we spent Christmas 2019 in France.
But we’ve lived over here for awhile… so long, in fact, that we didn’t bother to go to any Christmas markets this year. That was mostly because of Arran, who has been undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma and tends to get in trouble if he gets left alone. We are planning to go out tomorrow, though… lovely lunch at Villa Im Tal, which is one of our favorite restaurants. I just bought a new, taller, and sturdier baby gate for preventing entry to the basement, which I hope will curtail any of Arran’s antics for a few hours tomorrow.
As usual, I bought a lot more gifts for Bill than he bought for me, mainly because I know what he likes, and what we need. I usually get him clothes for Christmas, but I already got him clothes a few weeks ago. He doesn’t need more. In fact, we both really need to cull our wardrobes! I have some clothes I haven’t worn in ten years! The only thing I bought for him that he can wear are new gloves, which he requested. I ordered them from an Italian outfit called Fratelli Orsini. He tried them on and said they fit perfectly. I tried to order a pair for myself, but I think I chose gloves that were out of stock. Oh well.
I mostly bought books– especially cookbooks and books about wine, and one book by Carl Jung– and lots of kitchen gadgets. I had a good time stuffing Bill’s stocking, which my mom knitted for us twenty years ago. We used to fill them every year, but stopped for some reason. This year, we decided to fill them again, to great success. I think Bill was especially pleased with the “toilet light” I got for us. He got me ready made cocktails, which won’t be as good as his, but might come in handy at some point. He also bought me shawls in three different colors.
Bill made baked eggs with asparagus and smoked salmon for breakfast, using one of last year’s cookbooks. He recently discovered them, and decided he liked them, so I bought him two more books by the same author, the late Michel Roux, a Frenchman who went to Britain and changed food there. Just now, I decided to get a couple more of his books, because they’re going out of print, and I have plans to buy bookshelves in the new year. Bill also made some excellent biscuits from scratch, a skill he’s been working on for awhile. The secret is truly in the flour. You need White Lily self rising flour to make them like we have them at home.
Anyway… here goes with the photo dump… He bought me a weighted blanket, which Arran immediately claimed. I also got a new office chair with heat and massage and a cordless vacuum! I did ask him for the vacuum, because the one I have is 7 years old and very cumbersome to use. I think it was a successful morning.
The featured photo is from a Christmas card our landlord brought us. It’s a photo of our village church, which dates from the 12th century. I love the photo. I might need to find a frame!
Bill is now preparing dinner, which should be pretty epic. I feel very fortunate today… and I hope everyone reading this also feels good/well today. But I know Christmas isn’t always easy for everyone… so if you happen to be feeling blue today, I send my very best wishes for better days. Merry Christmas, to all who celebrate! For those who don’t celebrate, may your day be blessed!
Today’s post is going to be different than usual. It might even be a bit controversial. I’ve decided to write about it here, instead of on my main blog, because it has to do with travel and international relations. And it also complements a piece I wrote for my main blog this morning. So here goes…
Last month, I wrote about the trip Bill and I took to Ribeauville, France for our 20th wedding anniversary. It was our sixth visit to Ribeauville, a town that has become one of our favorite places to visit when we need a break from Germany. This time, we went there because we wanted to go somewhere dog friendly to celebrate our anniversary. Because Arran has been undergoing chemotherapy, and Noyzi had never been on a trip before, we thought it would be best to go somewhere we knew could accommodate them.
Although we have visited Ribeauville many times, I didn’t realize that a lot of businesses would be closed during our November visit. I would have expected a lot of closures during the winter season. But when we got there, our host, Yannick, explained that a lot of businesses shut down for a rest just before the Christmas season, because of the surge in business when people descend on the village to shop the markets. Consequently, the tourist friendly town was pretty dead during our visit. Only a few restaurants were open, and not all of the retail establishments were doing business.
In my blog series about our most recent trip to Ribeauville, I wrote about an unfortunate experience we had at a wine shop in Ribeauville. I didn’t go into great detail about it in the blog post, because overall, we had a good time. However, Bill and I did submit Google reviews about the place where we got bad service. We would not have bothered to do that if she’d given us the right wine, but the unfriendliness coupled with incompetence invited comment. Some people might question our decision to complain about our experience on the Internet. I would invite the naysayers to consider the value of people sharing their opinions about products and services.
The whole reason Google offers people the chance to leave reviews is so that others might be able to choose the most appropriate places to spend their money. I almost always use reviews when I decide to book places to stay overnight. Sometimes I read restaurant reviews before I’ll book a table. I look for reviews of doctors, veterinarians, and lawyers, too, because I don’t want to waste time or money on something that will be inappropriate or disappointing.
Think about shopping at Amazon. Most of us read reviews before we make purchases, right? It helps one decide between two similar products and maybe avoid bad experiences… or increase the odds of having a really good experience. It also gives businesses the chance to do some quality control, if they are so inclined. As much as business people don’t want to hear about something going wrong, they can’t fix problems if they don’t know they exist. And in the case of the wine shop we reviewed, we couldn’t have complained in person, even if we’d wanted to, because the salesperson only spoke French, and Bill and I can’t speak French.
So, Bill wrote about how, after lunch on a cold, rainy afternoon in Ribeauville, we decided we wanted to buy some wine to take home with us. We were actually hoping to get the chance to do a tasting. Ribeauville has a lot of places where it’s possible to taste wines before buying them, and we hoped we’d find such an outlet that offered tastings when we were wine shopping. Unfortunately, on that particular day, most of the winesellers were closed, either because it was too early in the day, or because they had closed before commencing the Christmas markets. We decided we just wanted to buy the wine and hole up in the apartment, since the weather was so yucky and the dogs were waiting for us.
We saw that this one wine shop was open. The lights were on; the door was open; it was a quaint looking place. Bill had successfully shopped there before, so we had no reason to think we’d have a bad experience there. We walked in and saw there was a woman behind the counter. It was apparently her job to sell wine. She was giving off unwelcoming vibes, and looked quite annoyed that we’d come into her shop. In retrospect, we probably should have just walked out. But we wanted to buy Alsatian wine, and were planning to leave the next morning. So we approached her.
Bill asked her if she spoke English or German. Her response was a flat “no.” Okay… well, it’s France, so we don’t necessarily expect that she speaks any language other than French. She had a menu available. We spotted a package we wanted. It consisted of three Pinot Blancs and three Rieslings. We pointed to that, and I said more than once, “No Gewurztraminer.” Granted, I didn’t say it in French, but “no” means “no” in English and French. So, actually, I probably did say it in French.
The woman packed up the wines in a box. We weren’t able to see which bottles she put in the box before she taped it up. Bill paid for the package we indicated, and we quickly got out of there, because we felt unwelcome. The whole interaction lasted maybe five minutes.
When we got home, we found three bottles of Gewurztraminer instead of the Riesling we wanted. I was immediately annoyed, because not only were we treated very rudely, but we also didn’t get what we ordered. So Bill and I wrote reviews of the shop on Google, noticing that we weren’t the only people who got bad service at that particular establishment. However, we appeared to be the only Americans who had reviewed their shop. Everyone else was evidently either from France or Germany.
Last night, Bill saw that he got a response from the wine shop about the review he wrote. The woman responded in French that she was “very sorry” about her “attitude” if she was the one to whom we were referring. And she added that it was “unfortunate” that we got bottles of Gewurztraminer instead of Riesling, since Gewurztraminer is “more expensive”. Her implication seems to be that we should be grateful that we got more expensive wines when we paid for cheaper wines.
I was a bit taken aback by the woman’s response. But here are my four takeaways from this experience.
This woman doesn’t care about giving people what they ordered.
I don’t know if she owns the shop or is just an employee, but apparently she doesn’t care that she cost the business money because she gave us the wrong wines.
She thinks that things that cost more are automatically better.
She doesn’t realize that Riesling and Gewurztraminer are different wines and taste different.
I will admit that I am not an expert on Gewurztraminer, but I have never had one that I’ve enjoyed. Perhaps if the shop had offered tastings, the saleslady could have convinced us that Gewurztraminer was the better choice. She wouldn’t have even needed to speak English or German to do that. Bill and I have done tastings at other vintners in France in which all the proprietor did was pour sips of wine for us and let us decide if we wanted to purchase it. But her shop didn’t offer tastings, which is certainly fair enough.
But, since they didn’t offer tastings, and I know I like Rieslings and haven’t historically liked Gewurztraminers, I ordered Rieslings– not Gewurztraminers. It doesn’t make a happy damn to me that Gewurztraminers cost more than Rieslings do. It’s not worth anything to me if I don’t want to drink it. And while I don’t necessarily assume that the customer is always right, I do think people should get what they ask for, and pay for, or something that comes reasonably close if what they want isn’t available. This morning, when Bill and I were talking about this, he said “I’m sure a pink, diamond encrusted, Mercedes Benz would cost more than our Volvo did. That doesn’t mean I want to drive it.”
I decided to write about this incident on Facebook. I posted about it on my page, and in a wine group I run. I kind of knew in the back of my head that posting about it in the wine group would be risky, since a lot of people in the group are affiliated with the U.S. military, and a lot of people in that community seem to think that no one ever has the right to complain about anything. If you complain, you’re automatically labeled a “karen” (a term I usually refuse to use because I think it’s stupid). Below is what I posted:
That last bit was a reference to an experience Bill and I had in Ribeauville back in May 2018, when we visited a restaurant. I had ordered an entrecote steak. Bill ordered smoked salmon pancakes. The waiter came out with the pancakes and choucroute garni (Alsatian dish with sausages and sauerkraut), which was NOT what I ordered. When I politely pointed that out to the guy, he immediately got really pissed and insisted that I had ordered sausages and sauerkraut. Why would I lie about what I ordered? I didn’t want the choucroute garni, because I don’t like sauerkraut. He took the dish away, then came back and tried to get me to accept it, since it would take time to prepare the steak I ordered. Bill, being the prince of a man that he is, offered to take the choucroute garni. I took the salmon pancakes, since they had been my second choice. Unfortunately, the pancakes were badly scorched.
The Ribeauville wine shop lady reminded me of the waiter at the Ribeauville restaurant who gave us very bad service and expected me to shut up and color. But… in fairness to the town, everyone else there has been fabulous. That’s why we’ve visited there six times so far!
Anyway, I had a feeling that someone would assume that I brought on my own problems at the wine shop. Sure enough, I was right. Someone responded that I shouldn’t have “expected” the wine shop woman to speak English or German at a shop in France. Where in my post does it say that I expected her to speak another language? I wrote in a matter-of-fact way that the woman didn’t speak German or English. We don’t speak French. There’s no judgment about that. Many people in that region speak German, though, because it’s very close to the German border.
Lots of Europeans speak English. In fact, a lot of people from other parts of Europe speak English to each other even if they don’t come from an English speaking country. English is a very commonly studied second language in many parts of Europe. Say you’re a French person visiting Spain, and you don’t speak Spanish, but you can speak English. You visit a Spanish restaurant and the waiter doesn’t speak French, but does speak English. You can both speak English and get what you need. See? I’ve seen this happen on many occasions.
It’s generally not possible for everyone living in Europe to learn every language, although I have met some impressive people who had seemed to try. It’s not uncommon to meet people in Europe who have mastered four or five tongues, especially among the Romance languages, but they’d still be struggling if they were somewhere in rural Croatia, Latvia, or Poland and the person they were trying to talk to didn’t speak one of the languages they happened to know.
The person in my wine group continued that she had studied French in high school and college, so she has never experienced rude behavior in France. The implication, apparently, is that I’m an “ugly American” and ignorant because I don’t speak French and had the nerve to ask the saleslady if she spoke English or German.
I was pretty irritated by that reaction and response, because I felt it was pretty judgmental. I’ve lived in Germany for ten years of my life. I like living here. Otherwise, I would have gone back to America or somewhere else a long time ago. Moreover, I completely understand the importance of being culturally sensitive. Besides Germany, I’ve also lived in England and Armenia. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia, where I taught English to little kids. And yes, I do speak some Armenian, a language that I’ll bet relatively few Americans have ever learned a word of.
I also understand that it’s important to study foreign language in school. I studied Spanish for six years, stupidly assuming I’d be living in the United States, where more people speak Spanish than French or German. Believe me, if I had known I’d be living in Germany, I would have studied German and/or French. But I didn’t have a crystal ball back in 1985, when I started taking a foreign language course for the first time. I learned the language I thought was most practical. Based on how my life has turned out, I was wrong.
Someone else wrote that maybe the woman misunderstood me because I don’t speak French. She reasoned that her mother is from Greece and sometimes misunderstands accents. But I don’t think that was what happened, because “No Gewurztraminer” is pretty clear in French and English, especially when we also point to the menu and PAY the price for the box we ordered– which the proprietor says is cheaper than the price is for a box with Gewurztraminer.
Why do people feel like they need to play devil’s advocate, even when the other person isn’t even around to be offended. The wine purveyor isn’t in my wine group, after all. I didn’t even mention which shop she runs. I was just sharing an experience. Why can’t people simply have empathy, rather than try to blame the victim?
The saleslady was not only rude to us, but she also made a mistake; then she shamed us for daring to speak out about it. And instead of apologizing for making the mistake, which everybody does sometimes, she responded in a way that indicated that we were right about her disposition. She’s just plain rude, and probably should find a new line of work that makes her happier. I mean, it’s not like she was slammed with people on the day of our visit. We were the only people in her shop, which was legitimately open for business. We made a very simple request. She botched it, and was very unpleasant to boot. Then, when we legitimately complain, she continues to show everyone her ass.
I think that experience warrants a complaint… or even just a comment, so that other people can avoid that experience themselves. I comment about what happened to Americans, and some of them imply that this was my fault. Isn’t that really nice?
Listen, I’ll be the first to admit that I can be extremely annoying sometimes. This was not one of those times. This was a five minute interaction that went terribly awry for some reason, in spite of our best intentions. I simply wanted to write about it. But some people want to make anyone who sounds off a villain, especially if it involves Americans. Oh well.
We donated two of the offending wines to a Thanksgiving celebration. Hopefully, someone will enjoy the “more expensive” wines that we bought in Alsace. And next time we go to Ribeauville, we’ll try one of the other wine purveyors… providing they’re open for business. I probably should give up wine, anyway… and whine. My liver would surely thank me for it.
When we woke up in Ribeauville on Saturday, November 19th, I looked at Facebook to see if there were any announcements about James Taylor’s show. I didn’t see any emails from the ticketing venue, or on James’s social media. That meant we’d be going home a day early.
I was a little sad to be going, since I really had wanted to go to Riquewihr at least once, if only to get macaroons. Bill didn’t want to go to Riquewihr, because it was in the opposite direction of home, even if it was just two miles. He said he’d go look for the macaroons in Ribeauville. So he went out, picked up more croissants, and FAILED to find the cookies I wanted. Instead, he bought three bags of other cookies.
Maybe I should be ashamed for feeling this way, but I was a little disappointed. What he brought back were not what I wanted. Then it occurred to me that I could probably order the macaroons, which is precisely what I did (they arrived this morning). So I got over my disappointment, and we started packing up to go home. As I was walking the dogs to the car, my hands full of whatever else I could carry, a French woman approached me, speaking rapid fire. I said in English, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French.”
She nodded and smiled, then backed away. I soon realized what she wanted. It was mid morning and the parking lot was already pretty full. She wanted our parking spot. I saw her lurking in the lot, just waiting for us to move. I always hate it when people do this, even though I understand why they do it. I wasn’t the one driving, and we weren’t quite ready to leave. She finally gave up at some point, after Bill had done a sweep of the Riesling gite, and came back to the car. By then, there were a couple more lurkers, just waiting…
It was probably a half hour later when we were on our way home, after a quick stop at the Daniel Stoffel Chocolatier outlet on the way out of town. Bill went in and picked up some goodies for us, and his daughter’s family.
Our drive home was almost totally uneventful. Arran went to sleep, and Noyzi was a perfect gentleman in the back. Maybe we have finally broken him of his habit of barking in the car. The only strange thing that happened was that, as usual, I witnessed public urination at a rest stop. I vented about that here. Below are a few shots from the drive home. As you can see, Arran was relaxed.
When we got home, our landlord came over to tell us our off kilter dishwasher, which had come off its foundation, wasn’t fixed yet, because the repair guy needed a part. Yesterday, he said the repair guy was sick, but would be able to fix the machine when he was well again. He said we should just be careful using the machine. When I told him we hadn’t been using it, because the dishwasher had given me an error code last time I ran a load, he said if the repair guy couldn’t figure it out, he’d just get us a new one. I am still stunned by how different he is, compared to our former landlady. They are like night and day!
I did the requisite load of laundry and a few other chores, then we got ready for the show in Frankfurt. We had to pick up our tickets at the box office, I guess to thwart scalpers. I pictured a long line of people, but when we arrived at the Jahrhunderthalle, we were pleasantly surprised by the ease of parking, the short distance to the venue, and the short line to get our tickets. Then we enjoyed some libations while we waited for the doors to open.
James Taylor had a stripped down band for this show. There was no keyboard player, and no opening act. We had second row seats, which was a first for me. I saw my first James Taylor concert in 1990. In fact, that show, when I was almost 18, was my very first “rock” show– if you could call it that. I remember I went with my parents and one of my sisters, and I paid $18.50 for nosebleed seats.
For this show, I paid 82,50 euros which I thought was very reasonable to see a guy who has won 6 Grammys and spent more than 50 years enchanting people all over the world with his wonderful guitar playing and angelic voice. While we waited for the show to start, I noticed the music that was playing. I recognized songs from albums by James’s daughter, Sally, as well as backup singers Kate Markowitz and Andrea Zonn. I downloaded Kate’s album from the concert hall. I already had Andrea’s.
This was the fourth time I’d seen James Taylor play, but there was a difference between this show and the others. For one thing, there weren’t drunken, idiot women standing in front of us, dancing and shrieking the whole time. There were no huge screens showing close ups of James and his band. And while he forgot a few words, he still played and sang beautifully. I was charmed by his efforts to speak German to the crowd, as well as the encouraging message he had for anyone “in recovery” from drug and alcohol addiction, as he has been since the mid 80s.
James told us some of the stories behind some of the songs he performed, including “That’s Why I’m Here”, from his 1985 album by the same name. I remember that he had dedicated that album to Bill W., the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Imagine going to an A.A. meeting and seeing James Taylor there! But anyway, “That’s Why I’m Here” was a song he wrote in memory of his friend John Belushi, who died of an overdose in 1982. James was a pretty serious addict back in the day. He’s still addicted, of course, but no longer indulges. Before he started singing, he said, “If you like getting fucked up, that’s okay. I just can’t handle it myself anymore!” Everybody laughed.
At the beginning of the evening, I thought James looked a little pale, perhaps because he’d had COVID. But as the show went on, he was more and more animated, at times jumping around the stage. I enjoyed watching him interact with his band, most of whom had been with him for many years. Dorian Holley was the only one on stage I had not seen with James before. I suspect he’s the replacement for Arnold McCuller, James’s longtime backup singer who just retired from life on the road. I enjoyed Dorian’s singing. He has quite an impressive resume. James listed the people Holley’s sung with, which includes the late Michael Jackson. That actually surprised me, because he didn’t look old enough to be one of Jackson’s backup singers… but then, Michael was well known for enjoying and employing young performers for his shows.
James’s long time guitarist, Michael Landau, was well within view of us on the right side of the stage. He stood up and flexed his legs, I smiled at him, and he smiled back. That was kind of a cool moment. One thing I love about European concerts is that I seem to have a much easier time scoring good seats here. Another thing I love about European shows is that most people don’t act stupid at them… at least not at the shows Bill and I attend. And you can get a beer or a glass of wine without mortgaging your house.
At one point, James was introducing a song from his 1971 album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon. A man in the audience held up a vinyl copy, which James immediately offered to sign and bite. The guy rushed up to the stage with his album and presented it to James, but then they needed to find a pen. Another guy came up and said he had something that had been signed by a bunch of famous singers, including Johnny Cash. He requested an autograph, which James was happy to oblige. In fact, at the break, I ran out to go to the restroom, and when I came back, James was still on stage, signing autographs and shaking hands. I was very impressed. I wondered if he needed to pee as badly as I did! It struck me as a very humble and generous gesture toward his loyal fans.
I decided not to try to get an autograph myself. I would be honored to have James’s signature, of course, but autographs don’t really mean that much to me. Earlier in the show, someone yelled out that his dad loved James. James made a comment reminiscent of what he said on his Live album from 1993. Basically, he reminded the guy that they don’t know each other. It made me think how strange it must be for performers to be “loved” by people who don’t know them. James himself reminded us that he is a deeply flawed person, as we all are… but what impresses me about James Taylor is that he’s clearly worked very hard to become much better. He’s clearly not the same person he was in the 70s or early 80s.
At the end of the show, of course there were encores… and James and his band encouraged people to get up and come close to the stage. It was one of the most intimate concert experiences I’ve ever had. I think the only one who topped that was James’s somewhat less famous brother, Livingston, who puts on a FABULOUS live show and is extremely approachable. I remember seeing Liv in 2003 at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, a couple of months after I saw James at Wolf Trap in Bristow, Virginia. James’s show was MUCH bigger than Liv’s was, and we had those drunk women in front of us, careening around sloppily as they slurred the lyrics of James’s best songs. I remember thinking Livingston’s show was so much better, if only because there weren’t any obnoxious drunks there. But Liv also engaged the audience and was thoroughly entertaining. This most recent show by James, while slightly pared down, was akin to Liv’s show, only it was in a much larger, yet still intimate, venue.
In any case, we obviously had a wonderful time! I’m so glad we went. It was the perfect ending to our 20th anniversary weekend. And yes, even though James will be 75 years old in March, he’s still a hell of a great performer. I think the money we spent on this show, even with its delays, was well worth euro cent.
Dorian and Kate dance!
Getting out of the Jahrhunderthalle was very easy. Bill was happy about that. But then we hit a Stau, so Bill went through Hofheim to get us home. And when we got home, we were confronted by a big mess caused by Arran. He got into the basement and raided our dry goods, and peed and pooped on my rug. Fortunately, he was no worse for wear. We have thoroughly dog proofed down there, as we’re going to someone’s house for Thanksgiving dinner today. Noyzi had nothing to do with the raid. He was tucked in bed when we got home. He’s very classy for a street dog.
Well, that about does it for this series. It wasn’t a super exciting trip, but we had a good time… and it was great to have Arran and Noyzi with us. I’m so grateful to be here on many levels, and for so many reasons. I’m glad James Taylor is still with us, too. And before I forget, below are a couple of clips from the show.
I really had good intentions for getting away on Friday. I thought maybe we’d go to Riquewihr, if only so we could buy some macaroons. The wine route in Alsace is just so beautiful, and even though we’ve done it so many times, it never gets old. But the weather was kind of drizzly, off and on. We’d have sun for awhile, then it would start raining. The dogs were pretty good. We really only heard them throwing a fit once, and we waited about a minute before they shut up.
One of Bill’s co-workers was hoping for a photo or video of Bill tasting cheeses. Ribeauville actually has a wine and cheese bar, and it was open during our stay. However, it was only open for takeaway; the “bar” part was closed. Bill went there and brought home a few stinky selections, which he videoed himself tasting for his daughter, whom he’s just now getting to know again after many years of separation. That’s a long story, of course, which can easily be found in my main blog.
Speaking of Bill’s daughter… she is the mother of three very young children. I saw a shop with some cute stuffed toy storks. Alsace and parts of Germany are pretty well-known for the population of storks that live there. Their huge nests are easy to find on top of buildings. The locals even make it easy for the birds to nest. I made a note of the shop and, after lunch, we went there and picked up some toys for Bill’s grandchildren, as well as a a gnome for our own house.
For breakfast on Friday, Bill went to a different patisserie– one with a medieval theme. He picked up more croissants and an artisanal loaf of bread that he said tasted of sourdough. I don’t like sourdough much, so I left him to it.
We took another walk around the town, thinking maybe we’d taste wines at Louis Sipp, which has a couple of tasting rooms… but they weren’t open when we were in the mood. So we explored some other parts of town– areas we had never been to on previous trips. Ribeauville seems like a really small town, but there’s actually a lot to it besides the charming main drag. I love the way the village looks, and found myself taking many pictures. But I don’t think I’d want to live there, because everyone is kind of packed in. I don’t like sharing walls with people, and I enjoy having a yard. It’s nice to visit such a quaint place, though, if only to remind me of how much we enjoy our current “mansion” in Wiesbaden.
We had lunch at Schaal E’ Sucre, the cute little restaurant we had tried to get into on Thursday. It was crowded again on Friday, but there was a table for two open. There was one waiter working the entire room. He was very friendly and smiley, and he spoke English, which was nice. This little eatery has a very simple menu, with salads, pasta dishes, quiches, sandwiches, and soups. I was torn between the bacon and cheese open sandwich and another Quiche Lorraine. I decided to have the quiche, just so I could compare it to the previous day’s. I could probably eat quiche every day… although that wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do.
The quiche was a bit browner than the quiche I had at L’Ami Fritz. However, it definitely had more of a “professional” pastry look, like it was made by a pastry chef, rather than someone’s mama. It had a different flavor, too. I didn’t taste the “musty” cheese. I liked both quiches for different reasons. I preferred the cheese and the look of the quiche at Schaal E’ Sucre, but I liked the texture and bacon in the quiche from L’Ami Fritz. Bill ended up getting the bacon and cheese sandwich, which was also delicious! I could tell he had trouble finishing it, as it also came with a big salad, like my quiche did. We never even touched the bread, although we did enjoy an interesting Riesling/Muscat blended white wine.
Naturally, we were talked into having Quetsch (plum) tart, with chantilly (whipped cream). I noticed that Schaal E’ Sucre also offered a wide variety of waffles. We definitely left there satisfied, and although I loved that place when it was Chez Martine, I think it’s in good hands, now. When we left the restaurant, it was raining.
We decided to stop by a wine shop to get some vino for home. Sadly, that was not a good shopping experience. There was a lone woman running the shop, and she wore a sour expression on her face. Bill asked if she spoke English or German. She responded with a flat “No.” Okay, fine. I distinctly said, more than once, “No Gewurztraminer”. That should be translatable in French. She also had a list of available wine packages. We pointed to one that consisted of Rieslings and Pinot Blancs. She packed a box for us and pretty much didn’t so much as say “kiss my ass” to us as we left.
When we got home the next day, and unpacked the box, we found three bottles of Gewurztraminer. I guess that will teach us to trust a salesperson with a sour disposition to pack wines for us before we check labels. Fortunately, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and we’ve been invited to someone else’s house. Guess we’ll bring over some wine for them. 😉 And yes, Bill did tell his friend/co-worker that we got the wrong wine, and he was fine with us bringing the Alsatian Gewurztraminer. Someone at the party will surely enjoy sweet French wine.
Once again, we were too full for dinner, so went hung out with the dogs as I watched James Taylor’s Facebook page to see if the show would still be going on in Frankfurt Saturday night. Yes, it was a very “chill” break in Alsace, and we could have done more with our time, but really, it was just nice to be with Bill and the dogs, enjoying a different country. And, even though we had a disappointing experience with the wine lady, Ribeauville is still so beautiful…
I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of Ribeauville.
Arran’s medications make him hungry. They also make him need to go potty more often than usual. Consequently, on all three nights of our stay, Bill got up in the wee hours of the morning to take him and Noyzi out for walks. Then, he’d come back to bed, and try to go back to sleep. The apartment where we stayed was easy to keep dark, so on Thursday, we slept until 8:00 AM. We almost never do that anymore!
Our morning habit, whenever we visit France, is to get baked goodies from the patisseries. I am a big fan of FRENCH croissants– and yes, they are different to me than the ones we can get in Germany. Kugelhopfs are also very popular and prevalent in Alsace, as well as in parts of Germany and Austria. Personally, I can take or leave the Kugelhopfs, although I will admit to thinking they look very pretty. They usually include raisins and almonds, though, and I generally prefer my baked goods without fruit and nuts. One can also score delightful Pain au chocolat– flaky pastries filled with semi sweet chocolate– which are very decadent. I love chocolate, but again, the one must do French breakfast treat for me is the lowly croissant.
Bill went to one of the nearby patisseries and brought back the usual, then scrambled some eggs. We bought some clementine juice, ham, and cheese, at the local Carrefour grocery store, located very conveniently about a five minute walk from our gite. Once again, I was marveling at how flaky and delicious the croissants were, and kind of wishing we had more of them. But the last thing I need is a plentiful supply of baked goods!
After breakfast, we all took a walk around Ribeauville. It’s a very pretty little village, not unlike other pretty villages in Alsace. Riquewihr, which is only two miles from Ribeauville, is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. However, I prefer Ribeauville, because it feels more lived in to me. It’s obvious there are a lot of locals in Ribeauville, even though it’s a tourist destination. Riquewihr feels a little more touristy to me, and it has a lot more tourist oriented businesses. For that reason, I like to stay in Ribeauville, and visit Riquewihr and some of the other, more famous towns, like Kaysersberg, which is where Anthony Bourdain, sadly, took his life in June 2018. Of course, I also like Ribeauville, because we know Yannick, and he’s very cool with our dogs.
I took lots of pictures of the town, as usual, because even though we’ve been to Ribeauville so many times, it’s always a pretty town. We usually go there in the winter, rather than the fall. We’ve only managed one visit in the late spring, when everything is open, but crowded. Once the dogs were sufficiently exercised, we took them back to the gite and went looking for lunch.
As I mentioned before, only a few restaurants were open during our visit. The ones that were open had plenty of business. We were wanting to go to a little lunch spot that was once called Chez Martine, but now has new owners and a different name. Schaal’É Sucré offers a menu that is very similar to that of what Chez Martine used to have, only now it’s open later and is run by men instead of women. On Thursday, it was clear that it was every bit as popular as its predecessor was, as the dining room was completely full when we stuck our heads in, looking for a bite.
We ended up eating at Caveau de L’Ami Fritz, a restaurant that is affiliated with the hotel of the same name. We have eaten at L’Ami Fritz before, and I remembered that the dining room is in a very charming “cave”. I also remembered liking what I had there the first time we tried it. The dining room was full of people when we arrived, but everyone looked very happy. Bill and I sat down and enjoyed some local specialties.
I had Quiche Lorraine, while Bill went for pork and Baeckaoffa, basically cheesy potato casserole made with Munster. The quiche was delicious, although it was made with a slightly “musty” cheese. I am very particular about cheese, and this one just bordered on “offensive” to me. Still, I managed to eat the whole thing, anyway.
We also enjoyed a local Riesling. Bill had asked for a 28 euro bottle, but when we got the bill, it turned out they had given us a 55 euro selection. Oh well. I suppose he could have complained, but we enjoyed the wine and we could afford it. And of course, we had dessert, too… Chocolate mousse for me, and a myrtle tart for Bill. He had leftovers from the Baeckaoffa, so we had that packed up and brought it to the apartment. I probably should have done the same with the mousse. It was a very generous portion.
By the time we were finished with lunch, it was early afternoon and a bit drizzly. I decided to have a rest and try to read more of my latest book. Naturally, that led to a two hour nap. 😉
Our lunch was so filling that we ended up staying in for the night, eating a light snack at dinner time and, of course, enjoying more wine. It’s a lovely thing to go to France to recharge! I liked the French weather lady’s dress, too. I also notice the fine for not cleaning up after your dog has gone up a bit.