Alsace, part 1- The Land of Wine and Flowers

It started three weeks ago, when we went to Strasbourg. It was our second time down there, and we liked it so much that it was obvious we would be going back very soon. So after we got back home, the hotel was booked right on the spot and I have to admit this trip was something to look forward. Some of you might know that Alsace is famous for its vineyards, its so-called ‘Route des vins’ and food of course. My story is divided into two parts. Today I will show you the region, its little villages, towns and ‘caves’. Next time I will tell you more about the capital- Strasbourg, as it requires a separate post. The truth is, we went to Strasbourg first, and also last Saturday we spent there the whole day, but I can’t wait any longer with all these pictures I took, and all my memories from this trip are still fresh so let’s do it now!

Alsace view on the little town

In Alsace everything is about making wine, drinking wine, tasting wine and even more wine! It’s everywhere. The vineyards are along the roads, around the villages, and even houses are surrounded by them. You can taste wine just by stopping along the road, where you will see local ‘caves’ offering wine tasting every day- it’s for free… believe me I tried lots of it during the last weekend (by the way it was Bank Holiday weekend, so 3 days!) 🙂

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In the little towns there are special places- caves- dedicated to the wine sales and tasting, and whoever runs the place, has usually more than one supplier- private, local producer. The tradition is still so present, that you can see some parts of equipment, which years ago was used for making wine. What you see below is an old press, to make the juice at first- I know these things, because my dad has been working in a vineyard for more than 20 years now. So, once the grapes were harvested, they would be placed in the press.

Press for making wine

Look at this picture, you can see that the wood is shaped in the way, so the juice was pouring directly to the big wooden bowl, which was placed below the press.

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On the picture below I show you how the bottles were stored up- which has not really changed nowadays- and also the whole press construction. It’s really huge, and looks massive. I can only imagine that there were a few people working on this.

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All this machinery was actually a part of a wine shop, where we did some tasting and shopping. I went for Cremant d’Alsace, as it’s one of the most popular sort of wines made in Alsace- and it tastes more like champagne- it has the bubbles 🙂 This one was rose and I got one bottle as it was really good. I also tried Pinot Noir.

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Everywhere you look there are wooden barrels, probably not used anymore but still there as a part of the landscape.

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What you can see below was a few from our hotel and the surroundings. Looks amazing doesn’t it…

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When we started our trip my boyfriend had a list of places where we had to go. It was simply “a must see” list. We left Strasbourg early morning on Sunday and went directly to Eguisheim. After that we visited Colmar, Kaysersberg, Riquewhir, Hunawhir, Ribeauville and we also saw the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle. I can only tell you, that when we walked through the gates of the third village from our list, my boyfriend looked around and said ” you know, it’s not even funny anymore…”. It was true. The views were absolutely breathtaking and it seemed like we were in some fairy tail. It’s a pity that I can show you only a small part of what we managed to see, but I hope it will give you the general idea of what Alsace is like.

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Interesting thing though. From what we found out, in the past Alsace was not as colorful as reflected on these pictures above. People who lived there were mostly poor, and the houses looked more like this…

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But these days are over and today you can really enjoy Alsace as a region full of different colors, shapes and architectural styles.

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A thing which really puzzled me was the size of the doors in many houses. They look like the one below. I figured that this size was probably due to the barrels full of wine, which needed to be rolled in and out from the house. Another thing, if you take a look carefully at that door, apart from the date- 1565… yes, this is the date when the house had been built- you can also see a sort of mark- exactly in the middle, dividing the date into two parts. This is a mark, which was made by the builders of the house. It’s a sort of professional signature, like a stamp, unique to each group of builders, who were wondering around the whole Europe offering their services. It was common in Medieval Europe, and you can see these marks on almost every church or building such as city halls. I have to say I was happy to see these in real, after I had to study them as a student- long time ago… eghm 😉 Don’t you think they look a bit like those doors from Hobbiton in the Shire?

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On the picture below you can see the same sort of door, but built in separately as an entrance to the basement.

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What’s amazing about Alsace is the flowers. They are everywhere and more. It’s not only about the color of the houses, but also the amount of flowers everywhere is truly overwhelming, at the same time it’s charming and I loved it. Where the flowers are, you will also find the water. These fountains are in each little town or a village, usually in the city center. Also the wheels and water channels.

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We loved those little, narrow streets where you can walk around for hours. And of course more flowers and more green.

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Alsace is also beautiful by night …I took these pictures on the way back to the hotel.

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I’m sure some of you would ask at this stage, that’s all nice but what about food?? It’s a  food blog in the end. Well, we ate a lot. The restaurants are good, so no point in recommending anything special. We tried a few places, mostly using the criteria ” do we like it or not?”, and it was fine. Some of you might know that Alsace is famous for a few types of foods, out of which the most popular are choucroute, baeckaoffa and flammekueche. Below on the pictures you see the first two, which it’s possible to buy in jars and have them at home. I can tell that I had  choucroute a few times so far, and it’s not a vegetarian dish for sure. It’s a sour cabbage, cooked with white wine- for hours- and served with different kinds of meats- starting from typical lard, sausages and pork. We always have it for the New Years Eve lunch, and for us it’s a typical winter dish. Very tasty. My boyfriend tried baeckaoffa. It’s a stew, very delicate flavor, usually cooked from 3 kinds f meats, served with carrots and potatoes.

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We also had flammekueche. The most traditional option of this dish, which is a bit similar to pizza, contains cream, bacon and some onions. We had it with cheese this time. Frankly these days the selection is endless, and everybody goes for it.

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Well, I was not joking around and decided to go for something I really like. It was chicken with mushrooms and reasling  sauce with speatzle. This pasta is typical for Germany, and of course because Alsace used to be a part of it, its cuisine is heavily influenced by German culture in general.

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But…it’s still France so you can satisfy your taste with probably the biggest heroes of French cuisine, as shown below…

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Do you have the same problem when you see those nice, little jars in the shop, you cannot help yourself and simply HAVE to buy them??

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After the dinner it’s time for a dessert, and I’m sure you could find something here too. One of the most famous cakes from Alsace is kuoglof. It’s a sort of marble cake, but it’s a yeast dough, very delicate, and usually with some raisins, or almonds added. There is another cake called pain d’epices- gingerbread cake, and we got this one too. Well, yesterday while I was working on this post, my boyfriend worked quietly on the gingerbread in the kitchen. He had the whole thing, as according to him “it was too good to leave it until tomorrow morning for breakfast”. Go figure…

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I personally treated myself with a fantastic cherry cheese cake with a chocolate glaze. It was yummy 🙂

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We were sorry to leave, but we are going back in August so I’m sure I will have even more things to show you and to talk about. One last thing though. Did you know that Alsace is also famous for the storks? These birds are literary everywhere. It’s so cute to see the parents teaching the young ones how to fly! In my country if you see a stork it will bring you luck for sure. So good luck everyone 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Alsace, part 1- The Land of Wine and Flowers

  1. Oh, such beautiful pictures! We went to Strasbourg a couple of weeks back and it’s such a beautiful city with friendly people, great wine and stunning food! Thanks for all the details about the region and it’s history! Lovely post… 🙂

    Like

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