Thursday, 5 September 2013

Mosel Valley: Riesling, kuchen, more Riesling, and sights.

The Dutchman and I decided to celebrate out first weekend of living together in Belgium by leaving the country. We had such a good time in the Ahr Valley in the spring that we thought we'd try another German destination - the Mosel Valley. The fact that we both love Riesling might also have something to do with it...

We started in Trier (where Karl Marx was born!), visiting the Porta Nigra and generally wandering around the pretty streets, and ate a fantastic Schwartzewald Kirschtorte (Black Forest Gateaux) at a konditorei (traditional cake and coffee house) overlooking the Dom (cathedral). (That's enough brackets.)

That night, we stayed at a hotel on the edge of a forest, in the company of a group of very loud Dutch bikers. The wild game goulash - made by the owner's grandmother, who was about 85 and still going strong - was phenomenal, but sadly not very photogenic. We went for a walk into the forest after dinner, just to see exactly how dark dark can get. Result: pretty damn dark. Also eerily silent.

Our second day started with a mosey along the Mosel (LOLZ) from Cochem, in beautiful weather. I do enjoy a nice boat. I also enjoy cake. Success on both counts in Cochem. The banks of the Mosel rise quite steeply in places, but every available space has been utilised for vineyards. We took a walk up into the hills which afforded wonderful views of the river (and a chance to walk off some of that cake).

Choosing to stay at Weinhaus Halfenstube was an excellent decision. The staff were lovely, the food was delicious, and the 'idyllic terrace' aptly named. Staring out over the river certainly made working on holiday feel less taxing! We opted for the 'small wine tasting' on our first night and received four different white wines from the region - we could have gone for a mixture of red and white, or specified the sweet rather than the dry end of the scale - which were the perfect accompaniment to the four course house menu. The first trocken Riesling was so good we ended up taking some home with us! Ditto the rotweinpfirsichmarmelade - a jam made from the so-called 'red wine peach', a fruit the size of an apricot but with bright red flesh. Other delights included the two-course breakfast the next day, sat out on the terrace again, and our lunch of 'Mosel tapas' including potatoes with blood pudding and apple, a wurtz salad that was way more wurtz than salad, and an obscene amount of rye bread and butter. In fact, it's a good job we had such good weather for hiking and cycling, with all that. Om nom nom!

The morning of our last day was spent cycling along the river path from Seinhem to Zell and back, and wishing we could stay longer. For much of the length of the valley the roads hug the river, making it a very pleasant drive - at least for me, as the passenger! I would definitely go back, perhaps to the northern end, where the Mosel meets the Rhine. And now we are back in Brussels, where we are having an été indien and I am looking forward to shopping at the Chatelain Market, feeling small in the massive National Library, and generally getting up to Belgian shenanigans.

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