In mid March we were invited to a 60th birthday celebration. Monika had decided that for this special occasion she would invite her friends and family for a Flammenkuchen evening. Translated literally into English it means a flaming cake. It is, however, more like a pie or tart with a thin crust, baked in a very hot oven, with burning wood just below the oven in which it is baked. As with many such words in various languages, it doesn't translate well, so the original name is best.
Flammenkuchen with Grieben (crackly pork rind), at right, baking in the oven
A piece of Flammenkuchen with Schinken (bacon) and Zwiebeln (onions)
The house we were going to in Nonnenweier is an old half-timbered farmhouse the kind you see in the towns close to the Rhine, many of which date back to the 1700s or earlier. They are similar to those you see on the other side of the river, in Alsace, some of which go back to the 1500s. Nearly all were at one time small farms and some still are. To the side of the Killius house is a room with its own entry from outside which is used for these evenings. It is filled with long tables and benches, cases of beer and mineral water (wine is stored in the wine cellar below), a couple of counters and, tonight, flowers on the tables.
Opposite it, outside, is the bake house. The picture above shows it on the left, facing the house. The door into the "party" room is to the left of the main door of the house and left of the bench.
The plaque shows the year the house was built and then renovated: 1874, 1922, 1975 and 1994. The names of the Killius family members who renovated it are carved on the sign as well.
Flammenkuchen at Isele's Weinstube
A couple of weeks later, we joined a small group of WWII German veterans at Isele's Weinstube in Munchweier. On that occasion, I ordered Flammenkuchen topped with Muensterkaese (Munster cheese). It is, I think, both Hans' and my favourite topping. Munster cheese in North America is not the same as Muensterkaese in Europe. It may be called the same, but it is not. Here, it is a soft cheese with an orange rind and is quite odorous (to say the least!).
Below left, my Muensterkaese Flammenkuchen. On the right, a couple of us about to enjoy our choices.
I normally am not a fan of Munster cheese (Hans loves it at any time), but as a topping and baked in the oven, it is delicious. I have it occasionally at the Kleiner Meierhof in Ettenheimweiler as well, where Sylvia and Erich also serve it. We had actually told Erich about it, as we had had it elsewhere first, and they then put it on their menu. Tonight, Sunday, where we had gone for supper, a couple near us had ordered just that.
This past Friday evening, we joined friends at a Straussenwirtschaft that is not far from where we live. The "Strausse" is a special seasonal type of Stube. They are advertised on the road or nearby with a witch's type broom standing on its end, with the broom part itself standing upright and with streamers flying off from it to showcase it. (They are also advertised in the local papers.) When the broom is up, the "Strausse" is open. You see these brooms in Austria as well in the fall when the new wine is ready; there, the vintners' Stuben are called Heuriger.
Later, Wolfgang ordered one made with apples, though one without the Calvados flambe; instead, he ordered one with cinnamon only. I had a couple of pieces and it was delicious, sweet but not over sweet, reminiscent of apple pie with cinnamon in it.
Straussenwirtschaften are well worth visiting as they are usually filled with people in a great mood, dress is always casual and most of these, including the one we went to on Friday evening, are cosy, warm and filled with atmosphere. In German, the word to describe them is "gemuetlich." (Gemuetlich is another example of a single German word that would take several words in English to say the same thing.)
The only downside of the "Strausse": they do take away a lot of business from the regular Gasthauses who make their whole living in that manner, whereby the Straussenwirtschaften make their main living from farming and/or grapes. A "Strausse" is a sideline for them. Regardless, though, they are popular and they offer good food and a pleasant and memorable sojourn.