Three weeks of Neustadt’s Deutsches Weinlesefest ended today with the highlight event, the Weinlesefest Parade. We had heard it was a massive parade, and so the kids – having in mind Ankeny’s Summerfest parade and all that candy – each went and found a big plastic bag able to hold as much candy as they could possible carry. Unfortunately, they all pretty much went home empty handed, because although it was in fact a huge parade with 131 entries, it didn’t feature candy. What it did feature, however, was plenty of wine. Adults brought (or bought) their own wine glasses and held them up to passing floats, who generously filled and re-filled them with a few ounces of wine. After 131 floats, that’s a lot of wine…so by the time the last float presenting the new Wine Queen for 2010/2011, the parade was a-hoppin!
Once again, the wine, food and fun came to us for Neustadt’s l Deutsches Weinlesefest. We walked out our front door and to the entrance of the annual Wine Harvest Festival, celebrating the grape harvest and providing all of the local wineries an opportunity to move some inventory. It was also another chance to take the crew on the Ferris wheel, grab some pretzels and wurst and hit a few carney games. And as always, we captured a few photos. The view from atop a Ferris Wheel provides a few good landscapes of the town from above.
Although we’ve been able to generally maintain our American-style eating habits with the macaroni and cheese and Ranch dressing that we air-freighted over here, the reality is those things won’t last forever. So we have been slowly figuring out how to eat here. Or better, how to eat well here. Since you can’t go to the store it seems and pick up in Iowa chop and a handfull of sweet potatoes like we used to, that means tackling some of the local cuisine. Melissa has introduced some Wurst and Fleischkäse to the dinner table and we sure like the rolls down at the local bakery.
But Flammkuchen (litterally, “flame cake”) is the family favorite right now. It’s sort of like an thin crisy pizza, except it has a special white sauce. The sauce is a mixture of sour cream, quark ( a unique German item, basically tastes like sour cream), and creme fraiche (which also tastes alot like sour cream). You stir them together into a mixture that continues to pretty much tastes like (suprise!) sour cream, and then spread it over a flammkuchen crust like you would pizza sauce. The typical flammkuchen is then topped with diced ham and onion. You can of course experiment with different toppings…Melissa’s favorite is a Margherita variety with tomato, basil and little bit of mozarella and gorgonzola. Its really good.
We washed it down tonight with a local specialty, Neuer Wein. We were driving back to Neustadt today and saw a few stands on the side of the road with “Neuer Wein” signs on the road. Its like an Iowa sweet corn stand except with less corn and more wine. I stopped in one and asked the lady manning the station what exactly Neuer Wein (“new wine”) was. I understand about 20% of the German I hear, but gathered from her it was the early fruits of this years grape harvest – grape juice just before or, if you like, just after it has begun to ferment. We picked up two varieties, one that was just grape juice (ok for the kids) and the other that had already begun to ferment for Mom and Dad. And the nice things is you can use the jugs for your lawn mower later. So we’ve got that going for us. The thing is, I don’t think most Germans sit around eating flammkuchen and drinking wine all night long, and neither can we…so after a month here of a diet that would make Man v. Food’s Adam Richman blush, we both recognize we need to figure out how to start eating healthy. Some of our favorite staples are hard to find here (I had to work hard to find some sweet potatoes – found exactly four of them at the down town farmers market last Saturday – and we still haven’t spotted a butternut squash). But in general the fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats fare is excellent. And although its been nice to take a few weeks off from the exercise regimen,tomorrow I think its going to be time to for me to welcome back the workouts with about a 150 wall balls. Thats when I’ll realize how bad 4-5 weeks without regular exercise can really hurt.
By no planning of our own we came to live on the Deutsch Weinstraße (German Wine Route). We didn’t even know there was a Deutsch Weinstraße when we found this house, but it turns out this Weinstraße thing is a pretty big deal. The Weinstraße runs north and south through Germany and is dotted by small and medium sized cities and hamlets alike that are a big tourist attraction for all of the scenery, castles, restraunts, and of course wineries.
When I say “we live on the Weinstraße”, I don’t mean it in the sense that we live in a town that the Weinstraße runs through (although we do, the name of our town is Neusadt an der Weinstraße, and that by itself is a privilege). What I mean specifically is that street outside our door is the actual Weinstraße. Our street address is Weinstraße 35, our neighbors are a wineries….We live on the Weinstraße. Most days out of the year it seems like the Weinstraße is just like any other street, cars, bikes, walkers, etc. But what we’re learning is that the Weinstraße and the towns along it frequently host festivals & events centered around the wine culture.
I learned about one just last week was visiting our neighbors (Hans and Eva Nickel, Weingut Kaiserstuhl). They were mentioning all of the parties and festivals throughout the year, especially one coming up the next week. I was having a hard time keeping up with the conversation in German but I caught one part that stood out. “Did you say kein auto? No cars allowed on the street?”. Yup, 85km of the street closed all day for Erlebnistag Deutsche Weinstraße. No exit, no entry, except by foot or bike. Its like a mini RAGBRAI except they have wine and cheese instead of Bud Light and hotdogs.
Weinstraßse at noon today
On an average day.
The picture on the left is our street, I took for our movers last week. This is our street on a “normal” day. The picture on the right is our street this afternoon. What you can’t see in the picture is the live music, smell of flammkuchen and wurst and associated jubilee.
This is our garbage can. We don’t get to use the whole can, there is an insert in it that makes it so you can only use about a third of it. It officially is a “40 Liter” bin, which means it it holds about one smaller sized kitchen garbage bag. And no, they won´t pick up extra bags just lying on top or by the side…it has to fit in the can. And oh yeah, they only come once every two weeks. And oh yeah, we have five kids and one that´s not potty trained. I think Jazzy just filled her diaper with more than 40 Liters.
It was a long full day of travel from Bettendorf, Iowa, to Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in Germany, but we made it all in one peice. And there are signs that der familie might actually like it. But more on that – much more – later.