This is my third post of my trip to Europe. Click on the highlighted text to read about my first stop Munich and my second stop Lake Garda, Italy. When I made my travel plans I decided to break up the long train ride from Roverto, Italy to my village in northern Germany. My friend and I decided to stay in Innsbruck, Austria, for a few days before continuing our journey. We had planned to take the lift up the mountain and hike in the beautiful Tyrolean Alps surrounding Innsbruck. Well, the rainy weather changed our plans. The mountains would have been muddy, with no vistas and a cold rain.
So we decided to eat as many Austrian delicacies as possible. We started with a Sacher Torte in the Sacher Cafe next to the Hofburg (a castle for royalty) that we also visited.
Then came the apple strudel with vanilla sauce— nobody makes it as well as the Austrians. Kaiserschmarren (pancakes) with plum jam was my favorite Of course, let’s not forget clear broth with Griessnockerl (semolina dumpling soup). The first evening I had spinach dumplings that were to die for. One night at our hotel, after having tasted two desserts that afternoon, we had a small bowl of Hungarian goulash soup. It was the best goulash soup I have ever had.
A few facts about Innsbruck: it is the capital of the Tirol Province. Tirol is a popular tourist destination for Germans and lots of other Europeans. The landmark in Innsbruck is the Golden Roof in the middle of town. It was built in 1500 to commemorate the marriage of Emperor Maximilian I and Bianca Maria Sforza. The roof is not covered in gold, but in fire-gilded copper tiles .
The 500-year-old town is settled in a pleasant valley with Baroque churches, gabled houses, and narrow, twisting walkways. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants with the food of the region. After two days of indulging , we took the train to my village.
The apartment in my brother’s house (where I usually stay), has a family of three Ukrainian women from Kharkiv living in it. These three women fled without time to pack anything when they left their home. All they had was a purse and a small bag when they arrived. But my brother got them jobs, and the 14-year-old teenager is going to school. They needed a lot of help filling out forms and papers to get German health insurance and a monthly allowance. Everybody is trying to help. The Ukrainian mother and daughter baked two cakes for a Sunday afternoon coffee. They were delicious and my brother and I had several pieces.
My nephew’s tiny house is an Airbnb on our farm. It was a perfect place for me to stay. I loved every minute in it. It was the perfect retreat to reflect, relax, and enjoy my family. The days were long and I enjoyed visits with my grand nephews and friends. My nephew also took in a Ukrainian woman with two children and a cat. Now he has five teenagers living in his house. We went out for dinner and had coffee and cake with our extended Ukrainian family. Their English is limited, they speak very little German and none of us speaks Russian or Ukranian, which are their language. Sometimes, I just started to cry. Memories of my childhood with all the refugees from the old East Germany came welling up.
During my stay in the village, I prepared Matjes Herring with cream sauce and boiled potatoes for the family. Hopefully, I will post the recipe in the near future.
After ten wonderful days, it was time for me to leave and go north. Hamburg was my next destination. I stayed in the same hotel where I always stay, the
Westin above the Elbephilharmonie in the Hafencity. This time, I just needed a day to rest and see some old friends before continuing on to Copenhagen. The Elbepilharmonie, nicknamed Elphi, always amazes me. It is among the largest concert halls in the world. The glassy construction resembles a hoisted sail or wave built on an old brick warehouse. The view from my room was spectacular. If you visit Hamburg and have some time, don’t miss this part of town. There is so much to see. Read more about the Elphi in a previous post here. My friend from Hamburg and I had a beautiful dinner at Vlet. This was actually my first gourmet meal on this trip. The food was exquisite.
Before I knew it, I was in the Hamburg railroad station waiting for my Danish train to Copenhagen. Let me tell you, I do not like the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (main railroad station).
It can be scary with the number of people and the constant construction going on. The station is on three separate levels with the trains departing on the lowest level. There have been times when the escalators didn’t work and I had to carry my suitcase down a long staircase. There are few elevators and they often don’t go the level you need to catch your train. I was lucky this time, and I used the escalator to get to the platform where my Danish train would arrive. I had a delightful conversation with a young man who was waiting for another train to go see his mother. I arrived in Copenhagen after a four hour scenic and interesting train ride .
I took another trip to Germany to see my mom, but before I went to my village, my husband and I had some fun. We have our favorite places and went to some of them on this trip.
Our flight was exciting because Neil Young and his entourage were on the plane. Once we landed in Frankfurt and rented a car, we were on our way south to our destination in Grindelwald, Switzerland. We gave ourself a couple a days to get there, so we had no reservation the first night. But we had some addresses for our navigation system. Usually, there are too many variables for the first day (the plane is delayed, we are too tired to drive, traffic jams on the Autobahn.) But this time we were lucky, with no delays and my man was willing to do the driving. We ended up in a Best Western hotel disguised as a health spa in the middle of the Black Forest. We enjoyed a nice dinner on the terrace with a nice quiet room. After a good breakfast the next morning, we were on the road again. We had made reservation in an Austrian hotel with an amazing spa and view, where we had stayed before. There is a fantastic heated indoor swimming pool with jets to massage your jet-lagged body. It also has a great sauna and steam room.
The following day we reached our destination in Grindelwald, Switzerland. We love this place in the Bernese Alps with a spectacular mountain range that makes it one of the most impressive alpine landscapes in Europe. The Jungfrau and the Eiger north wall are the most well-known mountains.
We have stayed at the Kirchbühl apartments several times. The Kirchbühl is a family run hotel with apartments and houses to rent. I love this place. The location is great, above the village away from all the hassle and noise. The hotel has two restaurants that are quite good and offer a wonderful breakfast with chewy whole wheat bread, great croissants and the best Bicher Müsli. We always make sure that breakfast is included in the price of the apartment. A dinner option is available that you can choose on a daily basis. They also surprise you with free afternoon tea or happy hour another day in their cozy hotel lobby. Frau Brawand, the owner, and the rest of the staff will make sure that you are well taken care of. In good Swiss style, the washer/dryer and wifi work great. And let's not forget the stunning views! Friends in the States thought I showed them a painting on Skype.
You come to Grindelwald to hike . My favorite hike is from Kleine Männlichen to the Kleine Scheidegg. This hike is easy with children. The views are stunning and will take your breath away. Take the tram to the Kleine Männlichen , an experience by itself and then hike to the Kleine Scheidegg , where you can take the train down to Grindelwald or hike part of the way . The train has several stops. Many tourists take the Jungfrau-Bahn to the top of the Jungfrau. I have done it twice and it is beautiful and expensive. Don't go up unless it is a clear day.
Originally, we had planed to do some additional hiking in the Val de Herens, but there was nothing but rain in the forecast, so hiking was out. Instead, we decided to head for France, to the Burgundy to be precise. Here we are visiting some old haunts and doing some serious eating. Our five-hour drive took us through some scary mountain passes and our navigation system (we call her Missy) rerouted us over some very narrow roads because of the Tour de France. Mind you, it was drizzling rain and foggy part of the way. We made it and my sweetheart is taking a well-deserved nap before dinner. Foie gras.....here we come.
The first night we stayed near Chagny at the Hostellerie du Chateau de Bellecroix, a place where the 15th century knights of Malta rested on the way to the Crusades. This old chateau has rooms in different buildings and beautiful grounds. We’ve stayed here before and I have to say it hasn't changed much. We had a circular tower room on the third floor of the main building. The room was small but fun for one night. The surroundings are stunning—an old-fashioned French hotel in the countryside. Our dinner was excellent, the foie gras was served with some fig jam and toast. The smoked salmon broiled on top of rich scalloped leek potatoes was also good. The creme brûlée made an excellent desert. We enjoyed our meal and and evening stroll around the castle. Nearby, in Chagny, is the Lamiloise, a three-star Michelin restaurant.
For me, Burgundy is the mecca of fantastic food where you want to eat everything. I love coming here and trying out new restaurants, charcuteries and patisseries. But oh my poor stomach and body tells me that enough is enough! This is a marathon of eating (the secret is in pacing yourself.) In other words, don't overdo it the first night. I did and now I'm paying the price, Alka Seltzer and peppermint tea to the rescue.
The second day, we continued our trip through Burgundy via Puligny Montrachet, a small village with Chardonnay grapes. We had some good wine, but the food was mediocre. But we visited Beaune for a couple hours. This is a medieval town I fell in love with many moons ago.
It is very touristy but charming town. We toured the hopitâl de Beaune, an old hospital for the poor from the 14th century. It is very interesting and worthy of a visit. As I was looking for a cappuccino and something sweet, I ran into a great patîsserie called Tavenet on 14 Place Carnot. My man loved tarte aux noix et caramel (caramel walnut tart), while I enjoyed a piece of apricot tart and took with me some macaroons and a gougere, a cheesy puff pastry served with wine tasting. It was superb.
Two Great days in Alsace Lorraine
The drive from the Burgundy to Alsace Lorraine was easy on a quiet Sunday morning. We arrived in Riquewihr at our the Hotel le Schoenenbourg , a Best Western with air conditioning, a definite plus after last night’s hot room in a charming hotel with a small room above the kitchen where the mosquitos kept us awake. We had made the reservation a couple of days ago and this hotel still had some availability. It was the Bastille Day weekend and most hotels in the region were sold out.
I liked our new hotel because it is within walking distance of one of the quaint medieval villages filled with Hänsel and Gretel houses, cellars bursting with wines of the regions, with festivals beautiful to look at and photograph. Riquewihr is a fairy tale setting. All three villages have some nice stores with pottery, sweets and embroidered fabric. It's a little kitschy, but cute. I have brought back some nice things over the years.
For sweets, I like their pistachio-filled candy. We were able to watch the fireworks for Bastille Day from our hotel and before that, we watched the World Cup soccer final (where Germany won) and before that had a fabulous dinner sitting in a courtyard at Restaurant Winstub Au Tire-Bouchon. My husband had the pork knuckle with sauerkraut and potatoes, with regional mustard. It was the best pork knuckle I ever had, soft and tender. The sauerkraut was great too, with nothing added and perfect with the pork. I ordered the duck breast and I got a huge one (the biggest I have ever seen) cooked medium rare with all the fat rendered from the skin. The sauce had pieces of orange in it and was served in a small glass. The dish came with a beet mash and a large serving of cheesy scalloped potatoes—very different from the ones I had a couple of days ago at the Bellocroix. This was a perfect meal in a perfect setting , especially when the French accordion player serenaded us with some familiar songs and we started to sing along. It started to rain just as we finished dinner, so we went back to our hotel to watch the final soccer match and fireworks for Bastille Day from our window. Life is good.
The last day in Alsace we had lunch at the L'Auberge DE I'LL in Illhausen. I decided to post this culinary highlight of our trip in a separate post. From Riquewihr, we drove to Assmanshausen, a village located on the Rhine River, an idyllic location lined with castles—remote and comfortable with outstanding wine and food. Assmanshausen is 10 km north of Rüdesheim. Instead of the tourist frenzy of Rüdesheim, enjoy the contemplative serenity of the northward flowing Rhine. From here, you can take river cruises, vineyard walks, funicular rides above the hills. You can combine the three of them, see Bingen, go by the Lorelei and visit Rüdesheim. At night, you come back to the peaceful setting of the river and surrender yourself to the good wine and good food and watch the tourist boats (river cruises) go by.
We always stay at the Hotel Schön and take a room with a balcony on the river, sip a glass of Riesling and enjoy the setting. The hotel has a wisteria-covered veranda where you can enjoy a drink, a coffee or dinner and watch the sun set behind the hills. We enjoyed our delicious dinner on the patio and celebrated our last day before my husband went home and I continued my journey to visit my mom.
A fruity summer treat
The man in my life loves cobbler, because that's what his mother always made. (His sister is still working on their mother's recipe.) My husband thinks she used Bisquick mix. As I'd rather not use the mix, I'm still trying to recreate Bisquick. So, let me know about any recipes you have. My topping is different (so my husband informs me) — softer and more flaky, like a cake. He likes his crunchier—like a biscuit—my brother-in-law says. Both of them had second helpings, so I guess they liked it. I served mine with vanilla and my homemade strawberry ice cream.
For the filling, I used apricots and raspberries, because that's what we brought up to our mountain cabin in the Sierras, and they needed to be used right away. I love cooking up there because if you don't plan ahead, you make do with what you have. But the original recipe from the Cooking Light Magazine called for peaches and blueberries. I made the cobbler a second time at home with blueberries apricots (the one you see in the picture). There is an old-fashioned grocery store up in the Sierras that has almost everything—but no fancy stuff and not much fruit. However, you can find all the plumbing supplies you need and cans of nearly everything. I have to admit, the plumbing and electrical items come in very handy. Our little cabin in the woods has been my place to recharge and reboot for many years.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.