Monday, November 16, 2009

Schnitzel, Wine & Quark at a Cosy Stube

This evening Hans and I went to a local vintner's and his Weinstube (wine inn). Herr Isele and his wife started this from scratch, building it out of the ruins of an old barn in a village near us. They bought the property along with some vineyards, and Herr Isele has been making his own wine in the region ever since. His wife cooks for their guests, all of it homemade. They also offer cold dishes. She also looks after seven kids, though a couple of them are now grown themselves and help out in the vineyard and in the Stube.

We started going there shortly after they opened and that was quite a few years ago now. A couple of babies came along after that and we watched them growing and later playing games at a table while guests were enjoying food, wine and comradeship.

One steps down into the Stube upon entering from outside into a room of rock walls and a small wood burning stove. The first room, where we usually sit, is small with only two regular tables and one table with two chairs, plus a small bar (large enough for only two to three people to stand). Going through that first room you come to a larger room with several tables as well as a play table for children and beyond it to the garden area, where in warm weather it is a wonderful place to sit and eat and drink one's wine, all of which is from Isele's own vineyard.

In the beginning, both Hans and I found Herr Isele's wine too dry (or what we thought of as too sour at the time). Hans even told him that and a good argument got underway. But over the years his wine has gotten better and better, and now we have to admit some of them are very, very good and even excellent. Many others think so as well.

So tonight that is where we went once again. I had their Schnitzel, which is always excellent. A Schnitzel is not the same everywhere, though they are all prepared in much the same way and cooked much the same way. Frau Isele's are thicker than most and from a very good cut of pork, tender and tasty. Not all Schnitzels are covered in crumbs, but that is how I like them best. A Wienerschnitzel is always covered in crumbs and the true one is made from veal. We, however, prefer ours made from pork. So in Germany, unless it says Wienerschnitzel on the menu, it will likely have been made from pork, not veal. Even if it says Wienerart (art of Vienna), it doesn't necessarily mean veal either. To make sure it has crumbs, the word "paniert" should be there unless it is Wienerschnitzel.

Some Schnitzels are sauteed or panfried in butter and oil; some are deep fried in oil. The latter is considered by some to be the proper way to cook them, but the first one is also delicious and the more usual way to cook them generally. The butter does add a lot of flavour and that is how mine was cooked this evening.

I had Bratkartoffeln (pan fried potatoes) with my Schnitzel paniert. Hans had something else, a favourite of his: Quark (a type of cottage cheese) with fresh bread. By the way, I took one Schnitzel home as two came on my plate and they were more than I could eat. That is very common in our area, and in any local Gasthaus the owners or chef are very happy to wrap them for you to take home. I wouldn't do it at a high class restaurant, though even then I suppose one could. Well, perhaps not at a three star restaurant!

I started out with a glass of Weiss Burgunder wine (pinot blanc); Herr Isele's is very nice, one of my favourites there. Hans had a glass of Muscat, which was very unusual and had a wonderful full body. It tasted a lot like one of our favourites--Scheurebe--with a similar flowery taste. Both these wines were from 2008. The 2009 wines are expected to be very good, but we shall have to wait until next year to find out. All of Herr Isele's wines are for sale so one can go there and buy a case or a bottle of whatever type of wine he has. He does offer wine tastings as well.

During our evening, we spoke with several people as that is often the way in a Gasthaus or Stube. Everyone talks to everyone else, especially in a small and cosy place as this is. We ran into two or three people that we know and stood beside the small bar as we were leaving to talk with a neighbour of ours. We also talked with the Wirt (owner), Herr Isele) and the Wirtin, Frau Isele. That is also customary. For us, friendliness is as important as a good meal or a good wine. Without the first, one just may not go back. As we often say here, we can find good food and wine in many Gaststuben (inns, restaurants), so without pleasant service, we'll go elsewhere next time. That was certainly not the case tonight; we'll be going back again before long.

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