Travels: Two Days in Alsace and Germany

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 9comments No tags Permalink 0

Bonjour!

Pierre and I have been in France for a week and I wish I could stay for another dozen. The weather is horrible, non-stop rain and thunderstorms, and we nearly canceled the trip due to a last minute emergency on my part (the thing on my face turned out to be an infection requiring multiple doctor visits, medication, and I’m still in recovery). Then Pierre got food poisoning (no more steak tartare for this guy) our second day in Paris. It seemed like everything was working against us! But somehow, we managed and I can’t imagine a better vacation.

We spent the first few days in Paris, and then took the TGV to Alsace yesterday to see Pierre’s parents. Pierre’s family is originally from Brittany (where we visited last year) but he was raised in Alsace. His mom and dad picked us up from Strasbourg, the capital city of Alsace, where we spent hours touring the city…

So picturesque and peaceful…

…a peek at the magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral. Don’t forget about it’s equally famous astronomical clock.

Rainy afternoon

From Strasbourg we drove an hour north to a very small town surrounded by wheat fields called Wissembourg, Pierre’s hometown. It’s literally at the border of France and Germany, and the center of town is a single street lined in medieval-style buildings and a surprising number of pâtisseries, the windows filled with kugelhopf.

This will be the relaxing part of our vacation,” Pierre declared. And that it was. For the next three days we would literally do nothing but relax in his parent’s home. Memorable home-cooked dishes, fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden, wine at every meal, short walks into town, and reading and working from our room, which was practically a house itself. Some of my favorite photos from the last two days…

The cheese course at the end of each meal. Usually about five cheeses, and always with a fresh baguette.

Afternoon tea time…

…and then apéritif a few hours later.

Pierre’s mom makes amazing fruit jams with fruit from her own garden. Three ingredients and nothing else: fruit, sugar, and lemon juice.

Sliced baguette, butter, and then smear on the jam. Hot tea on the side.

The same fruit goes into her desserts – a new one made every afternoon! One day featured a mirabelle tart

…the next evening we devoured a truly summer sweet plum tart dusted in cinnamon and sugar.

On the savory side we ate zucchini gratin topped with grated gruyère. Done two ways: one with zucchini from the north of France (her garden) and the other from the south of France. We all concluded the one from the north was sweeter and more flavorful.

A simply prepared, and delicious duck

…then fresh trout in a light cream sauce with toasted almonds.

The trout was served with butter-cooked potatoes, each one so tiny, tender and sweet with just a bit of salt.

Salads were no afterthought, this one done with grilled octopus and chives, a balsamic dressing.

One afternoon we drove across the French border and to the town of Baden-Baden in Germany. It’s best known as a luxury spa town, but we stuck to…

…shopping, museums, and water.

Water? Oh yes. Thermal water. The water in Baden-Baden is naturally hot, free for drinking and thought to have healing powers.

Our trip was cut short from the thunderstorms and rain. But no worries, only a 30-minute drive back home, just in time for apéritif.

Foie gras and wine anyone? ;)