Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"Absolutely, totally useless, unnecessary!"*




And precisely therefore oh so beautiful and nourishing the soul for years to come!

* Quote by Christo on "the floating piers".

Copyright of the art work: Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Copyright of all photos: j.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

La ferme auberge du Felsach in Fellering, France

What a view, right?!? Another plan I had for my vacation was to eat at fermes auberges with simple, but excellent local dishes.

My aunt recommended the auberge Felsach, and we couldn't have had a more fun evening.

It started with the fact that we were almost out of gaz and as we climbed the tiny serpentines to the ferme, the range of kilometers predicted by our car dropped by ten kilometers every 2 minutes ... ... At least we knew that the way home would almost be entirely downhill!

The ferme really is in the middle of nowhere, but when we got there, it was full of people! It happened to be the day of the transhumance, and two big groups of people where there to celebrate! 
Etienne Valentin, one of the owners of the ferme however made sure that even our party of four felt welcome and had a great time! It was a pleasure listening to him explain to us the panorama (on a day with good visibility, you can see the peeks of the Swiss Alps!!). And the food was absolutely amazing!

The menu started with a slice of tourte, a meat pie typical for the region which was served with carrot and radish salad. Already last time, I wanted to eat tourte, but we couldn't seem to find the place where I had had it as a child.

Between courses, I had to get up to take some more photos. Unfortunately, it was not warm enough to sit on the balcony-like terrace this time, but you always have to have a reason to return to a place, right?

Fermes auberges are definitely not a place for vegetarians, as all dishes are heavy on meat, but being a meat lover, that ain't a problem for me! The main course was smoked pork chop with farmer's bread, a huge bowl of green salad for everyone to share and a really good potato gratin (the traditional roïgabrageldi where not availabale that day).

Next came the cheese plate: A young Munster, goat cheese and Bergkäse (a more matured type of cheese). They were all made from the milk that is procuded on the ferme! And together with a hearty slice of farmer's bread, made a delicious meal. 

If you look closely, you can see the cattle on the upper left corner, thank you, dear animals, for the milk that was turned into this lovely cheese!

But that wasn't all, non, there was still dessert to be had! We had absolutely delicous vanilla, raspberry and rhum raisin ice cream which is produced by a friend of the auberge-owners down in the valley. It is quite typical that they do not just serve any kind of (industrial) ice cream, but chose just the best dessert to match the quality of the entire menu! 
What you also should try though is the fromage blanc (cottage cheese or Quark) that comes with a layer of sugar and is then drenched in heavy cream and Kirsch! I'm not sure you are allowed to drive after two bites of it though... If we hadn't been in an excellent mood already, we would definitely now have been! The fromage blanc is made fresh every morning and the cream also comes from the ferme! It doesn't get more local than that I guess...

By now, a storm had come up and the visibilty changed within minutes. From inside, it was actually quite cozy to watch how it was raining cats and dogs! That also gave us the chance to start a conversation with some of the people who were also there. We talked both in French, German and Älsässisch, and one of the men said how important it is especially in a region like Alsace, to cherish the European Union! It made me feel really sorry for the Brits because I don't think they will ever understand the European Union. With no actual border regions where people are thankful that after centuries of ongoing wars, peace is there to stay, they never really know what it means to do and live Europe, I guess. 
As an eternal sign of égalité and fraternité, one Monsieur even offered to personally drive us the 200 meters to our car, so that we wouldn't get wet, even though that meant that he had to walk through the rain to first get his car, which meant that he ended up being soaking wet! In the meantime, one of his buddies took out his clarinette and played a little tune for us! I know, by now you think I'm making half of this story up, but it's all true! What a fun evening!

So if you are looking for an absolutely authentic ferme auberge, where the hosts live and breathe hospitality, where you can fraternize with the locals, where the food is simple, but absolutely impeccable, then Felsach is your choice! And if you for some reason are still not convinced, then let me remind you of that view!

copyright of all photos j.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Les Vosges: Markets and hiking

After having been to my aunt's vacation house dans les Vosges for the first time in over ten years last fall, I decided to also spent my spring vacation there. The plan was to spent one week on the balcony there, reading, sweating in the sun, eating delicious food and occasionally go on a hike. 

Of course the weather forcast then predicted one week of constant rain and "mild" temperatures. But as the saying goes, there ain't no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing, and so we hiked anyways, at 0 degrees. And on the way up the mountains, we stopped at every market we happened to come across. 

Pain d'epices and serious cheese in Munster.

Hiking around the mountain left to le Honeck whose name I have forgotten. In May, you get both, what's left of the skiing season's snow and les jonquilles!

This time, we didn't but next time, we should hike from le haut du tôt to Gérardmer, town of the famous pâtisserie Schmitt. This time, we were lazy and just took a short walk to then take the car to Gérardmer.

The myrtilles bushes were already full of tiny huckleberries!

copyright of all photos j.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Is it spring yet? // Buchteln

I bought some flowers at the market yesterday and called my (please pronounce with a French accent) arrangement  "spring is coming, get out of the way winter". 

But that didn't really help. It's cold and rainy, and in my living room, just five minutes ago, it was even snowing. Fine, it was only a thin layer of confectioner's sugar, but still.

 1 mm of powder, hit the slopes!


I opened my last glass of home made "Powidl"(= Austrian Plum jam) this morning to at least let its frangrance remind me of summer. Quickly made a yeast dough, foulded in the Powidl, and now I can't wait for dessert tonight (like in literally can't wait...of course I already had one...or two...).

Powidl  (keep this for late summer when plums are ripe, until then, just use store bought Powidl)

1,5 kg of plums, pitted
75 gr of brown sugar
vanilla powder
ground cinnamon

Mix the plums with all the other ingredients. I wouldn't use more than one teaspoon of each spice, but actually, that is totally up to your liking. Let sit for about one hour. Then, place everything in a deep pan and put in the oven at 180°C for up to 3-4 hours. You want the plums to turn really brown, sticky. Then, mix everything (this can be difficult because the jam is really stiff) and fill into glasses that you washed in boiling water. I'm sure the Powidl keeps well for a year, but it usually never lasts that long.


makes about 12 

250 gr of flour (550 type)
125 ml of milk
21 gr of yeast (half a cube in Germany)
15 gr of sugar
some lemon zests
a pinch of salt
some vanilla powder (or subsitute half of the sugar with vanilla sugar)
1 egg
60 gr of butter
Powdil (about 12 tablespoons)

Put the flour in a bowl, create a little crater with your hands. Heat the milk (don't let it get too hot, just warm.) Crumble the yeast and place it together with the sugar into the crater, top it with about 5-6 tablespoons of warm milk. Sprinkle with some of the flour from the sides and then let the yeast rise for 10-15 minutes (I usually cover the bowl with a towel and place the bowl on my radiator in the living room, mm, dad yeast smell, mmm). Next, melt the butter in the remaining milk and, once the yeast has risen, add all the other ingredients (salt, sugar, zests, vanilla, egg, milk with butter) and mix for about 5 minutes (kneading with the mixer is important. it's kind of boring to do that for 5 minutes, but it is worth every minute). Let the dough rise for another 40 minutes (again, on the radiator). Then, softly knead the dough again, cut it into 12 equal pieces, spread them out, fill each with a tablespoon of Powdil, fold the littel dough ball and place it with the seams facing down into a pan that you greased with melted butter. There should be about 2 cm between the Buchteln, don't worry, they will rise and snuggle to each other in no time. Add some melted butter on top and then let rise for another 15 minutes. Then, place the pan in the oven at about 180°C for 20-30 minutes, until the Buchteln are slighlty browned on top.

Take out of the oven, let it snow, and enjoy! (to make things unbearably luxurious, but also to add a shitload of work, you could also make some home made vanilla sauce to go with the Buchteln...)

copyright of all photos j.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Happy international snowman day!

If you think I've lost my mind, think again, because today really is international snowman day! Since I strongly believe that there is no bad weather, only insufficient clothing, I embrace snow and without knowing that today would be their big day, I took a photo of every snowman I met in Mauerpark yesterday:

"Mit dem dritten sieht man besser!"

 "Mein Hut der hat drei Ecken, drei Ecken hat mein Hut!"

"What? Never seen a snowman with a bad hair day?!"

 "Paule, sach doch wat!" 

 the anarcho-snowman 

"excusez-moi, where can I buy some baguette?"

the mother from Marzahn

  "it wasn't me!"

the snow owl 

 And finally the "braucht sonst noch jemand was vom Späti?"-snowman!

copyright of all photos j.