The Palatinate: pure pleasure - Part 2
June 10th, 2019 | Landgänge
The Palatinate – a region of superlatives! The largest wine barrel in the world, the largest wine festival in the world, the oldest wine route, the oldest wine bottle and last but not least about 100 million vines and fantastic wine… Not to mention Saumagen [stuffed pig’s stomach], liver dumplings and the beautiful landscape…
We have been in many countries of this world. And, yes, there are fantastic places around the globe. No question at all. However, our trips to the Palatinate show us that everything good is so near. Tradition, hospitality, culture and cuisine, great architecture – here you can find it all. Without a plane, by train. Stress-free. When will we finally be acting after the much-vaunted slogan of sustainability?
Speaking of great architecture, Speyer is of course a prime example (although I find all the beautiful, small, crooked half-timbered houses along the wine route just as amazing) – the prime example is and remains the Cathedral of Speyer. That sounds lofty, I think. But when you approach the cathedral for the first time, you feel very small. Indeed.
The planning for the Cathedral of Speyer is said to have begun about a thousand years ago. For me personally, anyway it is a mystery as in the past centuries such buildings were completed and today we sometimes need – despite all the modern tools – decades to build an airport, an Elbphilharmonie or similar.
Basically, we are not among the people who visit each church. And if, we take the time to pause, sit in the pew for a while and let the place affect us. Photos are taboo for us. We don’t like people entering churches only for taking one or two photos and that’s it. We have let the Cathedral of Speyer work on us, and it is incredibly impressive! You should take your time! It is worth it!
From a culinary point of view, the Weinstube Rabennest [wine bar raven’s nest] is our favorite place in Speyer. A wine tavern in the old style, rustic and cosy, the hearty and delicious food is served with a large list of open wines. At the big tables you never sit alone for long, you get into conversation and meet interesting people. That is fun! Highly recommended is the “Palatine Seduction”, a modern interpreted Saumagen Carpaccio.
At least as recommendable as the Rabennest is the Eismanufaktur Englert. Only a few steps away from the Rabennest, it offers really delicious ice creams, such as yoghurt ginger. You should treat yourself with this or a pistachio ice cream on your way home!
Wine Museum in the Historical Museum
We started our second day in Speyer with a long walk on the banks of the river Rhine. I love walking along riverbanks. That probably springs from my desire to live by the water someday. Sea, lake or river – that would not matter. The Rhine near Speyer is especially beautiful, river boats pass by, and you can even dream of a river cruise… maybe from Cologne to Amsterdam or something like that… However, if my dearest captain wants to spend his vacation on a ship…?
Worthwhile is definitely a visit to the Wine Museum in the Historical Museum of Speyer. There are many interesting details about the cultivation of wine and – of course – the oldest wine bottle in Germany is displayed there: The so-called Roman wine should come from the year 1867. A 1.5-liter bottle with small handles holds a rather unsympathetic looking liquid. Good that we are not dependent on these antique drops. There are a lot of great wineries nearby, where you can buy the best wines directly and without distribution channels.
Incidentally, the wineries are also happy to deliver their fine wines right to your doorstep. The shyness to buy at wineries directly, is really unfounded. You get a great price-performance ratio, the shipping costs are not significant at the often low prices. And sometimes the shipping is even free. In terms of sustainability, it is certainly clever to team up with friends and relatives for a larger order.
For further valuable information about Palatinate wines, but also about culinary, excursions, hotels, hiking, cycling and much more, you should visit the website of Pfalzwein e. V..
We conclude the evening in the restaurant Zum alten Engel, a very nice, rustic restaurant in an old brick vault. Regional products are served in relatively dark and cozy lounges from old church stalls . They follow the Slow Food thought and have everything the Palatinate cuisine has to offer on their menu: from Palatinate Maultaschen [filled pasta cases], black pudding, Fleeshknepp [meat dumplings] with horseradish, liver dumplings and Saumagen to spinach dumplings and cheese noodles. We chose the roast according to a recipe of Plankstetter monks, which is wrapped in hay and melts on the tongue after twelve hours of cooking time… Simply wonderful.
But not only the food is exciting. More than 20 (!) open regional wines plus craft beers and Bioland juices are available. We wanted this offer of open wines in the north…
By the way, we can recommend the hotel Löwengarten as accommodation in Speyer. With this solid, family-run hotel with 65 rooms in a super central location you can not go wrong.
Our next destination is the Maximilians Boutique Hotel in Landau. There is nothing better for train travelers, as this particular hotel is only a few meters from the train station in Landau. And even those arriving by car, enjoy the luxury of a parking garage and a free parking lot vis-à-vis. From outside the hotel looks rather cool and functional, but from inside it is very chic and modern. Everything is as sparklingly clean and beautiful as if it had just been opened yesterday.
The signature of the hosts Petra and Holger Hirsch can be felt everywhere. Here, real epicureans are at work, loving detail with the highest standards. You can feel that especially in the Max 28 – morning breakfast room and evening wine bar. A coherent concept.
The total of 50 rooms have a pleasant color scheme and a soothing size. They are decorated in shades of gray, a few upbeat color accents make that certain something. There are details that inspire, such as a night light, automatically in subtle brightness at knee level, as soon as you stretch your legs out of bed. Very pleasant!
Priceless at the Maximilians Hotel are the excursion recommendations from Petra Hirsch. If you ask her for hiking tips or restaurant recommendations, it gushes out of her. And a good stop may never be missed. She sometimes even organizes the table reservation, even if there is actually no free space.
For example, her tip for the Weinstube Brand in Frankweiler: quaint and cozy, a sandstone building with bare wooden tables, upscale German cuisine – to our taste. In summer attracts a delightful courtyard, which is in a cozy summer night quite sure romance! Thank you, dear Mrs. Hirsch, without you we would not have experienced this ambience and this good kitchen!
The Madenburg castle
From Landau, the Madenburg with its castle tavern is a really worthwhile hiking destination. We took this walk from Eschbach. A delightful place where a donkey smiled at each corner. An elderly lady explained to us: The neighboring villages have always had the nickname „donkey“ for the people of Eschbach. A resourceful mayor made this a trademark. Since then, there are colorful painted donkeys everywhere. A lovely place and a nice starting point to the Madenburg.
The castle boasts a magnificent view and picturesque old walls, towers in which you can climb and – not least – the castle tavern, which offers the whole range of Palatinate delicacies. In addition to good open wines – as everywhere in the Palatinate. A down-to-earth and lush “Pfälzer Zweierlei” [Palatinate twofold] of Saumagen and Bratwurst is offered for small money.
Burrweiler, about eight kilometers from Landau is interesting from a culinary point of view. Absolutely recommended there is the winery & wine house Meßmer. In this wine bar you can taste all the wines, without the maybe a bit exhausting “tasting situation” and the associated “buying pressure”. In a beautiful sandstone building with a nice terrace you can sit and enjoy small meals, such as variations of Palatine liver sausage with farmhouse bread and open wines.
We had the great luck to meet Özlem Meßmer and it was a really entertaining and happy evening with her. The Geisweiler hell, 1. Lage “barrel” became the favorite of my beloved captain this evening. It took me a bit longer to actually share the enjoyment. Only as an accompaniment to roast venison in a hay bed, to which we tasted a red wine and just the Geisweiler hell, I learned to appreciate the quality of this wine matured in the barrel.
The Weinhaus Meßmer alone is worth a full evening visit. But you can also go there just for an aperitif as a starter to a brilliant dinner in the Ritterhof zur Rose, next door.
The Ritterhof Rose captivates already architecturally. But it’s not just the historic charm of the beautifully restored sandstone building, but also the very special regional and very fine Slow Food cuisine that is on offer there. Calf tripe, for example, and a very ingenious chop from the woolly pig were a treat. And the dessert classic of the Ritterhof zur Rose? The “rusty knight” with homemade sorbet. Simply. Perfect. Simply. Good.
Seven days in the Palatinate
Our days in the Palatinate quickly passed. We experienced culinary delights, enjoyed pure nature, slept in wonderful hotels. We did everything right. We feel like newly born. That’s how it should be.
We’d love to take a bit of the Palatinate home. Therefore, we have a short stoppover at the well-known “King of Saumagen”. Soon there will be a big family party on the occasion of the 17th birthday of our daughter. What could be better than a Palatine menu?
At the butcher Hambel in Wachenheim we buy Saumagen, liver dumplings and Bratwurst. After all, celebrities such as Michael Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, Margret Thatcher, John Major and King Juan Carlos of Spain have tasted this Saumagen. Thus, we are in good company.
At the end of our journey our little “green car” is loaded with wine and Palatine delicacies.
And of course, the Palatine menu for the 17th was a complete success.
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