Among castles, waterfalls, fairytales and giants. Alsace, carnet de voyage

From Oberhaslach Wasselonne, Bas-Rhin, Alsace. Sunny and and full of beauty autumn days. Images and words in random order.

The golden vineyards of the famous Alsace wine route

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It’s lunch time of a bright autumn Sunday morning, walking through the desert streets of this Alsatian villages you can only hear sound of dishes, laughter, of people inviting neighbors at lunch through the window …

alsace_villagevillage_alsace DSC_0528 village_alsace_route_des_vins village_alsace_route_des_vins village_alsace_route_des_vins village_alsace_route_des_vins village_alsace_route_des_vins village_alsace_route_des_vins village_alsace_route_des_vinsLet’s start from the beginning, at least.
This has been our home in those days. Relais de Gensbourg, Oberhaslach.

relais_geinsbourg_nideck relais_geinsbourg_nideckWe arrived here the night of October 31 during a starry and silent night through the twisting little roads of the Vosges, flanked by forests and teeming with deers in love … We crossed six! Females! And all together! They Went or fled from their lovers?

relais_geinsbourg_nideck relais_geinsbourg_nideck relais_geinsbourg_nideckHiking boots and backpack, the next morning we left for a magnificent path surrounded by forest. Destination: Castle and Nideck falls.

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The ruins of the castle-fortress of Nideck, dating from the twelfth century, are mentioned in 1816 by the Grimm brothers and inspired the poet Adelbert von Chamisso composing Das Riesenfräulein – The giant’s daughter. According to the legend, the castle was inhabited by two giants and their little daughter that one day, bored, went down to the village by swapping the inhabitants for toys. She was scolded by his father who explained her that everyone needs someone, even the giants, whose livelihood depended on the work of the “small” farmers of the village …

cascade_chateau_nideck DSC_0252 cascade_chateau_nideck cascade_chateau_nideck DSC_0267 DSC_0271 DSC_0273 foglia_autunno_lumaca cascade_chateau_nideckThe Nideck’s falls are located 534 meters above sea level, south of the ruins of the castle. About 25 meters high, falling from the top of a wall of volcanic rock and integrate in a perfectly preserved natural site.

DSC_0326 cascade_chateau_nideck DSC_0318 cascade_chateau_nideck cascade_chateau_nideck IMG-20141109-WA0037IMG-20141109-WA0021At the end of our trekking, tired and hungry but happy, this magnificent refuge was standing in front of us like a vision … The air around smelled of roasted smoked sausages and of fireplace …

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Chambres d’hôtes La Cascade du Nideck

cascade_chateau_nideck DSC_0503At the entry of this charming place there is this caravan and this small library … Here I am while I pretend to read … our hunger is not of knowledge at the moment…

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smelling of knack and fireplace …

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You guessed right! The fireplace here it is … of the two wonderful knacks with mustard, alsatian smoked sausages who owe their name to the sound their skin makes when you bite it … alas … there are no pictures. Do not ask me why.

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And here Philippe, our host. After twenty years of work in the higher ranks of politics he decided to drop everything and live here taking care of tired and hungry travelers like us. And it does incredibly well. Here are some pictures of this cozy and charming place that seems something halfway between a museum and an amusement park…..

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This baller organ dating 1906 saw the splendors of a brothel in Paris during the Belle epoque …

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This quote is attached to the wall next to the organ that, has it seems, must have several love story to tell…

When you has been loved, you crave to love

When you has been loved you crave to love

And then an original Wurlitzer juke box …

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And here is Philippe’s kitchen. Smells like slowness, fireplace, wood and water of river. And Knacks, of course …:-)

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And just a few steps from the kitchen, in this intimate and bright veranda, over the windows flows the river and small waterfall seems to sing…

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I just don’t want to leave. But we have to. We have a commitment tonight: finding the best tarte flambé of the area. Philippe knows where it is.

Restaurant Aux Ruines du Nideck, Oberhaslach. Here the Flammekueche, the Alsatian tarte flambée , is cooked as usual in the wood oven and is recognized by the Confrérie de la Tarte flambée. No jokes here. We are in the right place.

flammkuchen_tarte flambéeThis Alsatian specialty is made of a base of bread dough very thiny stretched and stuffed with crème fraîche and fromage blanc. Yes, this is just the base. The rest is chosen from the menu. We tried the Munster one and fresh goat one. The grains of cumin with their aromatic freshness are perfect for the robust flavors of the cheeses and were a discovery and an ‘inspiration for me. But, wait a minute. Cumin I know has a completely different flavor! I discoverde that here in Alsace and in the French-speaking Switzerland is actually the caraway cumin or caraway, plant belonging to the Umbelliferae and then sister of anise and fennel, which resembles precisely for freshness and aroma. It is also called anise of the Vosges and occurs in many other alsatians recipes, first of all the choucroute, which deserves a separate chapter, and that I promise to honor in these pages soon. Needless to say, I bought a nice big jar of caraway that will be the object, in the near future, of my dirty games and experiments.

We like this restaurant, Philippe has understood what we were looking for: there are no tourists beside us, just families and group of friends around the tables speaking an incomprehensible dialect halfway between French and German, with at the center of the table big platters of tarte flambé for all tastes. It’s Sunday night and the atmosphere is that of an authentic, typical pizzeria. Alsatian. Becouse the tarte flambé is also called Alsatian pizza. 🙂

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With what we have watered (abundantly) everything? But with the excellent Alsatian Riesling of the house, of course!

What we will remember of these days? The smell of the forest, the sound of the waterfall, the robustness of the food, the clink of wine glasses, glowing eyes of a deer

in love in the night. But above all the names and the smiles of the people who welcomed us making us feeling at home. We already want to go back. Beware: Alsace is addictive. 🙂

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