A drive to Kallstadt…

Advertisements

Recently, I read and reviewed Mary Trump’s book, Too Much and Never Enough, a scathing expose about the Trump family, particularly her Uncle Donald Trump. I read in Mary’s book that the Trumps originated in Kallstadt, a wine producing hamlet located about an hour’s drive from where Bill and I currently live. Because we had nothing better to do today, and we’ve spent far too many weekends at home since the pandemic struck, Bill and I decided to drive to the village of Kallstadt to check it out.

A German Facebook friend wrote that she lives close to Kallstadt and that if we visited the cute little wine town, not to mention Trump. Apparently, the locals aren’t all that pleased to be associated with the current U.S. president, even though remnants of his family remain in the area, especially in the cemeteries.

The Inside Edition’s take on Kallstadt.

We had the best intentions of actually getting out and walking around there once we arrived. Unfortunately, parking was in short supply today. We also brought Arran with us. I did get some photos, though, and we took a drive through nearby Bad Dürkheim, a nice looking spa town that’s a bit bigger than Trump’s grandparents’ stomping grounds. If we’d wanted to, we could have spent time trying and buying different wines produced in the area.

Kallstadt is currently in Rhineland-Palatinate (or Rheinland-Pfalz, if you prefer). When Trump’s grandparents, Friedrich and Elisabeth Trump, were living there, back in the 19th century, it was part of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Looking at a German map, it’s surprising to see just how far north Bavaria stretches. I guess I’m used to being down near Stuttgart, which is a couple of hours’ drive from the closest Bavarian border. Up here in Wiesbaden, we’re close to several other German states.

The weather didn’t turn out to be the best for walking around today. We’re about to reach Fall, which can be glorious in Germany, but can also be a bit “iffy” in terms of the weather. Anyway, I did get some photos, although that was pretty much all we got on today’s journey… I would definitely be up for another visit when the sun is out and maybe if we didn’t bring Arran. There are many Weinguts to try in the area, plus some tempting looking restaurants.

I truly meant to write more about this. I hoped we could walk around and see a lot more of the area. It just wasn’t the right day to explore Trump’s grandparents’ stomping grounds. We’ll have to go back and spend more time… and at least taste a few of the products of the region. I’d like to know Kallstadt for the products it can truly be proud of, rather than our current leader. Kallstadt is a really cute little town, though. I can see why people visit.

Parker goes to France, part five…

Advertisements

Prior to Monday, I had never heard of Soultzmatt, another cute town in Alsace where wonderful locally produced wines are turned out every year. My friend, Ellen, said that she’d been buying wines from Klein René et Michel for years. As I mentioned in my previous post, I knew Ellen from Facebook. Before Monday, I had never met Ellen in person, though we have been interacting for a few years now. She and her friend, Louise, were about a half an hour behind us, so we had originally planned to visit Eguisheim. But the lure of wine was too strong to resist, and we soon found ourselves on the was to 5 Rue Ingold in Soultzmatt.

Bill was a little confused at first, once we found the winery. We weren’t sure where to park, or where to go. As luck would have it, another couple pulled up at about the same time we did, only they were French and spoke no English. Ellen had asked us to wait, but since the lady was already opening the tasting room for the French couple, we decided to go ahead… We knew we’d still be tasting wines when Ellen and Louise showed up. Sure enough, we were!

The lady who was running the tasting didn’t speak any English at all, so things were a little awkward at first. But then Bill told her he speaks a little German and, lo and behold, she spoke German, too! We’ve found that a lot of people in Alsace speak German, especially among the older folks. There’s a guy in Ribeauville who sells liqueurs and wines who speaks no English, but has happily carried on conversations with Bill, despite Bill’s limited German proficiency.

By the time Ellen and Louise showed up, the French couple had left with three boxes of wine– probably about 18 bottles worth. And Bill, Parker, and I had already tried about three… Ellen speaks French and German, so things got a lot easier after that! We left with twelve bottles of wine ourselves.

Ellen did manage to get a nice shot of us enjoying our wine…

This was a very successful stop!

It’s always a pleasure to meet online acquaintances offline. After all, that’s how Bill and I came together. We used to be strictly online friends. Ellen and Louise were delightful company. It turns out we have some things in common, too. Louise is a horse person, and I was a horse person for years before I grew up… and out. Louise lives in Mobile, Alabama, which was where my horse lived after his very first owner in Baton Rouge, Louisiana sold him with his mom. Louise is also the name of my former riding instructor. 😉 And Ellen was especially great company, especially since we lived in the same community and have husbands who do somewhat similar work. I was most impressed by her ability to speak French and German. Time for me to get back on the stick, I guess.

After we tasted and bought our wine, we headed back to Ribeauville. Parker stayed in while Bill and I went searching for dinner. We found only one open restaurant, though it was one we’d never tried before… Restaurant Le Ribeaupierre. I see it gets pretty low Trip Advisor ratings, although I can honestly say I have legitimately had worse dining experiences in Ribeauville. We were the only ones in the restaurant, but the waiter was still very pleasant and the food wasn’t bad.

Restaurant Le Ribeaupierre is quaintly decorated and seems like a somewhat popular lunch spot, despite its low ratings on Trip Advisor. It looks like they mostly serve pizzas. I had some trouble choosing what I was going to have, mainly because the presence of mushrooms pretty much spoil my meals (not that I can’t afford to have some spoiled). Lasagne is one of those items that is hit or miss. Sometimes people use mushrooms in them. Sometimes they don’t. Anyway, this meal was alright. The Irish Coffee made up for it, and Bill enjoyed his “colonel”– lemon sorbet with a shot of vodka. We noticed that the waiter locked up right after we left, at about 8:00pm. Like I said, Ribeauville is dead in January, but plenty of fun can still be had if you look hard enough.

A little wine and dinner in Hochheim…

Advertisements

It’s been an unusually social week for Bill and me.  On Monday, we drove to Schwetzingen to meet Bill’s former co-worker and current friend, Tim, and his wife, Melody, who had come to Germany to celebrate their anniversary.  On Wednesday, we saw the Scottish Music Parade in downtown Wiesbaden.  And last night, we gathered with Bill’s new co-workers in the picturesque city of Hochheim am Main, which is where Bill’s new boss lives.

Bill’s boss’s landlords own a winery, so they had arranged for us to do a wine tasting before dinner at the hotel directly across the street.  We were a little bit late to the wine tasting, since Bill wasn’t able to get home as early as he’d hoped he would.  We also went to the wrong place at first.  Apparently, Hochheim is loaded with wineries and wine stores.  The first place we went, the guy was just closing up for the evening.  But he was so friendly and kind that when we go back to Hochheim, we will definitely stop in and check out his wines.

It was fun to meet some new people, although I have to watch myself in social situations.  Sometimes I get carried away and say more than I should.  Below are a few pictures from the event.

No… Bill wasn’t falling asleep, although this week of activities has worn him out a bit.  We aren’t used to socializing as much as we have this week.

I learned last night that Thomas Jefferson once visited Hochheim.  This wine was named after that event, although we didn’t arrive early enough to hear the history of his visit, which the landlord/winery owner explained.  Later, we were quizzed on this…  Bill and I didn’t fare well.

The wines flowed freely.  This was the price list.  I liked several of them.

 

I was feeling a little envious of where Bill’s boss lives.  It’s the kind of cute town I was hoping to find when we were searching for our current house.  I guess we just weren’t destined to live in a super cute town this time.  I wish it hadn’t been so dark during our visit.  Hochheim looked like a really quaint place.

We had a buffet dinner at Hochheimer Terrasse, a restaurant located directly across the street from Bill’s boss’s house.  There were a few Christmas parties going on last night, and they also had their bar and restaurant open to the public.  Our buffet dinner consisted of pumpkin soup, which was creamy and delicious, goose leg, Rotkohl (red kraut), bread dumplings, and apple strudel for dessert.  We also got all the beer and wine we wanted.

I ended up talking to a few people at the party, and Bill’s boss mentioned my blog, which Bill had told them about.  I think when they had their first meeting back in September, Bill had our visit to the elevator testing tower near Rottweil in mind.  I was explaining that the tower offers Germany’s highest observation deck, as it’s also a place for elevators to be tested.  I’m not sure people quite understood the appeal of visiting an elevator testing facility in southern Germany, but nevertheless, that was how Bill introduced my travel blog to his boss.

As things were winding down, we were visited by this guy…  He recited a poem, tried to get us to sing “O Tannenbaum”, which no one knew in German, and then handed out tangerines and chocolates.  Afterwards, he asked for money.  Bill said the restaurant owner came over and shooed him out of the dining room.  I missed that part, but I will admit that he kind of put an unusual accent on the evening.  In all my years of living in Germany, this was the first time I ever ran into a German Santa.  

 

My German friend says this was the poem he recited…  I think she’s right.

I grabbed a parting shot of the restaurant’s sign as we were leaving.

 

I enjoyed the goose last night, which surprised me, since I had only had goose once before and I hadn’t liked it at all.  It was too gamy.  This time, it reminded me of duck, only with a longer leg.  I know goose is popular in Germany this time of year, but somehow I missed it during previous Christmases here.  I may have to try it again, but not at a buffet.  It turns out several of Bill’s new co-workers also spent time in Stuttgart, although we were told that usually people move from Wiesbaden to Stuttgart, and not the other way around.  For that reason, I won’t be surprised if we move to Stuttgart a third time someday.  But then again, maybe we won’t.

Wonderful day for wine tasting near Weil der Stadt…

Advertisements

Yesterday, as Bill and I were making our way to the Wolf and Bear Park, I wondered aloud about the annual wine tasting and market near Weil der Stadt.  Last year, my German friend Susanne told me about this annual event in which six vintners from near Riquewihr journey to Weil der Stadt to sell their wines to Germans.  Bill and I went on Saturday, April 1, 2017 and enjoyed a couple of hours tasting wines.  It culminated in us bringing home lots of French wines and having our pictures taken by a photographer who worked for the local paper.

Last night, as I was enjoying yet another viewing of The Breakfast Club (set on March 24, 1984, don’tcha know?), I got a private message from another German friend… Gerhard!  He sent me a link to a Facebook post about the event and although Bill and I were tentatively planning to visit an Easter market, we decided we’d rather stock up on wine.  So we went to the wine tasting today, which is going on from 11:00am until 5:00pm.  Like last year, it’s held in the Festhalle in Merklingen, which is very close to Weil der Stadt.  And… I noticed that just about everyone who was selling wine last year was there this year, too…

Bill and I tried wines from all six vintners and came home with bottles from all of them, although a couple of vintners got more of our business than the others did.  We did have a surreal moment as we were tasting wines.  I happened to look down and saw an article about last year… and sure enough, there was a picture of Bill and me.  And I was wearing the very same shirt today as I was wearing last year.  I almost wore a sweater this year, but it was so warm that I changed at the last minute.  Next year, if we’re still here, I will have to make a point of wearing red.

Last year, we were smart enough to eat before we shopped.  I should mention that they do serve food at this particular “fest”, but we were too focused on tasting and buying wines to eat.  However, I did notice that this year, a lot of people were eating the food provided by a local restaurant.  It seemed like a lot of seniors had come to try some wine, maybe not so much to buy a bottle.  Although I know some Americans know about this festival, I didn’t notice this year or last that a lot showed up.  I think maybe that was why last year, we made the paper!  No one talked to us this year… which is just as well, since I cringe at the sight of myself so happy in a German paper.

Here are a few pictures from today’s festivities.  I’m so happy to see the weather improving.  We’re now entering the time of year when weekend activities will become the norm!

 This is an annual event, so if you missed it this year, you can catch it next year…

 

Pay 2 euros Pfand at the door, get your wine glass, and start tasting wines to your heart’s content.  If you find one you really like and want a full glass, you can purchase one.  Or you can buy a bottle or a case…  This year, we left with 23 bottles… same as last year.  Turn in your wine glass as you leave and you’ll get your Pfand back.

Bill checks out the wines.  I remember this stand in particular was the last one we hit last year.  This year, it was our second stop.  And the lady who helped us spoke English, so we purchased six bottles of wine.  It was good wine anyway, though.

Lots of people enjoying lunch.

Bill very carefully tasting wine.

 

I said something naughty to get him to make this face.

It was at this table that I noticed…

As I sipped cremant…

That there was a picture of Bill and me on this guy’s table.  It was a bit surreal.  And I was wearing the same top, one that I don’t wear much this year but decided to wear at the last minute.  I definitely won’t wear blue next year.

The guy on the right noticed I was taking pictures.  

I tried to be non chalant.

At this writing, this particular festival is going to be over in less than two hours.  Apologies for not attending yesterday.  On Saturdays, they have live music and run until midnight.  On Sunday, they close at 5:00pm.

If you like Alsatian wine, I highly recommend marking your calendar.  They’ll be back next year at about the same time.  Or… you could just visit lovely Alsace and do a wine run, which is probably more fun, albeit more expensive!

Wine tasting in Weil der Stadt…

Advertisements

I woke up this morning thinking that Bill and I would be tasting beer today in Gärtringen, hence our decision to eat burgers there this afternoon.  As it turned out the beer tasting was to include food, which we knew we couldn’t enjoy after a very good lunch at Buffalo Grill and Bar.  Fortunately, my German friend Susanne told me about a wine tasting going on in Weil der Stadt.  This event, which happens every year, is a celebration of a “sisterhood” between the Alsatian town of Riquewihr and Weil der Stadt.  Although Bill and I  have been to Riquewihr, we had not been to Weil der Stadt/Merklingen prior to today.

As it turned out, we were the only Americans there during our visit.  The festival opened at 2:00pm and will run until midnight tonight. Six vintners from Riquewihr are there to sell their wines.  You can enjoy a tasting, have a full glass or two, or simply enjoy a bite to eat.  We heard that later this evening, there will also be live music.  The festival will also be going on tomorrow from 11:00am until 5:00pm.  Fortunately, I believe the beer tasting is also going on tomorrow.  We’ll probably go there tomorrow for some suds.

They had the flags out…

The doors opened promptly at 2:00pm, so we were left with a little time to kill.

We were among the first people to arrive, so I took a few shots of the inside of the festival.  Six tables are set up and each vintner has several different types of wines for sale.  You can get your pinot blanc, riesling, or pinot noir, along with muscat, gerwurztraminer, and cremant.  We ended up tasting a whole lot of wine… and left with 23 bottles of wine.  Prices are great!

A tasting glass will cost 2 euros for a pfand.  Turn it in and you get your euros back.  

If you want to eat, there is food provided by a local restaurant.  We were still full from lunch, so we didn’t eat.  I saw a lot of people enjoying lunch there.  One group was even celebrating a birthday.

The stage is set for later.  I have a feeling things will get busy tonight.

 

As we were tasting wine, a lady approached with a camera.  She was from the local newspaper.  She did take several pictures of me, so I won’t be surprised if I show up in a paper somewhere.  People seemed surprised to see us there and wanted to know how we knew about the wine festival.  I told them about my German friend who is in the know.  They seemed surprised that we’d drive out there just to enjoy some French vino.  I say it was well worth the trip, especially since we couldn’t make it to Strasbourg for the big festival.

I have a feeling we won’t need wine for awhile…

This was a really fun event.  Parking is free and plentiful, the toilets are clean and free, and I surprised myself by understanding a lot of what was being said.  The lady at the last table we hit happened to speak English very well and she was very interested in what we are doing here.  I’m sure I said more than I should have… but we did leave her table with seven bottles of wine and a business card, so I’m sure that’s all that matters.

There’s still plenty of time to visit the tasting today if you are inclined… and tomorrow, there will also be wine flowing.  If you like Alsatian wines, I highly recommend a visit!

Our first visit to Jacques’ Wein Depot in Ludwigsburg

Advertisements

For several reasons, Bill and I had occasion to go to Ludwigsburg today.  First, we had a hail and farewell to attend for his company.  It was held at the very nice MWR run Stuttgart Golf Club in Kornwestheim.  Bill was originally supposed to get there early for a round of golf, but he was too tired after yesterday’s festivities at the Canstatter Volksfest.  He’s also not a golfer and knew that if he played today, I’d be sitting home alone all day.  We compromised and showed up at 1:00 for a nice lunch with his work buddies.

A shot of the golf course.  It’s pretty nice.  Maybe it’s time Bill learned how to play.  The club in Kornwestheim has a nice restaurant along with a biergarten.

After lunch, we stopped by Heinrich’s drink market to drop off some empty beer bottles and pick up some more suds.  On the way out of Heinrich’s, I realized that it was still before 4:00pm, which told me that Jacques’ Wein Depot was still open.  We had passed this location of the small wine store several times, but we’d never had a chance to stop.  Usually, we’re in Ludwigsburg too late in the day on Saturdays.  Today, thanks to the hail and farewell, we got there with 45 minutes to spare!

I’d been curious about Jacques’ Wein Depot for awhile, especially since I started the Stuttgart food and wine lovers Facebook group.  I wanted to see if it’s the kind of place I’d like to recommend to others.  Now, having had a chance to drop by, I can say that this chain store is definitely a great place to visit if you like your wine.  Here’s a link to their main Facebook page, though individual locations also have pages.

The first Thursday of every month is Weinabend at the Wein Depot in Ludwigsburg!

 

First thing’s first.  Bill and I were (and still are) pretty tired because we partied hard yesterday.  Consequently, when we first entered the store, we noticed they had a couple of tasting stations set up, but we couldn’t find clean glasses.  We felt pretty dumb when the sales guy pointed the the racks of glasses hanging over the stations.  I tried a few wines and determined there were a few I wanted to take home with me.  Had I wanted to, I could have dropped a serious load of euros in that store.  Behind the wine tasting stations, there were more bottles of wine that had obviously been tested.  A whole rack of them!  And they were being sold at very reasonable prices.

Taste away!  They make it easy at Jacques’ Wein Depot.

I was intrigued by this Chilean white.  I ended up bringing home a bottle.

 

I kind of wish I’d gotten some of this Chilean red.  I think I was put off because it was being sold in a box.  My parents used to buy Franzia wine in boxes all the time and I always thought it was kind of lowbrow.  I know now that’s not the case, but old prejudices sometimes die hard.

 

They even had little snacks to try.  I noticed that there were several gourmet items for sale, like pastas, oils, and sauces.

There are quite a few locations of Jacques’ Wein Depot in the Stuttgart area.  The one closest to us is in Böblingen, which means I may have to break down and visit sometime soon.

Now that we’ve found Jacques’ Wein Depot, we’ll surely be back.  But that’s one of the nice things about living here in the Stuttgart area.  There are so many places to buy nice wines at good prices.

 

All in all, it’s been a busy and productive day.  I think tonight, we’ll sit back and watch CHiPs on iTunes.  I am a child of the 70s and 80s, after all, and that Frank Poncherello looks great in his tight pants.

Max’s Wine Dive…

Advertisements

Yesterday, Bill and I decided to go to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  Both of those stores happen to be near each other and a place called Max’s Wine Dive.  This small Texas chain pairs casual food with wine.  We had heard about it from one of Bill’s friends and since we were hungry, we decided to stop in for a bite to eat.

As it turned out, they were having a wine tasting paired with Thanksgiving themed “snacks”.  For $35 each, we could have all we wanted to eat or drink… granted, we were tasting wines, so the samples were small.  Come to think of it, so were the food pickings.  There were small plates with turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and gravy stacked into piles, a brussels sprouts casserole of some kind, and pumpkin pie.  I didn’t eat that much, but I did enjoy the wines and chatting with the very friendly wait staff offering tastes of an impressive variety of wines.  A guitar player and singer was jamming in the corner.  He was doing some good covers of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Supertramp tunes.

Bill and I didn’t take any wine home from Max’s Wine Dive because we thought they were a bit overpriced, even with a case discount.  But it was a fun way to spend a cloudy afternoon.  I’d go back.