Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Season of Good Cheer

Christmas seems to come more quickly every year but it is over almost as quickly.  Some of our highlights of this lovely season follow.

The Christmas cactus on the left bloomed in early October; the same one, at right, surprisingly began to flower once again in time for the Christmas season.

Looking through the window as I write, snow is falling and all is white outside.  We didn't have any snow for Christmas but it is still the season to enjoy it.  It is also getting colder.  I am happy that we do not have to go out.  We do not get much snow so I am not that used to driving in it anymore. 

These two pictures are from the upstairs balcony looking out over the countryside.  It is now morning and it is snowing again.
All is calm and beautiful.

The Gasthaus Bruckerhof

The Advent season was filled with good food, good friends and visiting our local Gasthäuser.  We especially enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Gasthaus Bruckerhof just outside Reichenbach.  Hans arranged a goose dinner with all the trimmings for our two groups (the men and the women) that meet once a week.  It was held on 1 December and it was superb.

The Wirt, Herr Brucker
Herr  Brucker took part of his apprenticeship training at what is now a 1-star Michelin restaurant in Reichenbach before taking over the family Gasthaus, the Bruckerhof.  He is an excellent cook.  On this occasion, he almost outdid himself!

We started with a Vorspeise or appetizer "on the house" (totally unexpected):  a wonderful seafood dish which included a large shrimp, salmon and a scallop nestling in a delicate sauce, with a thinly cut potato pancake on the side.  This was as good as we have ever had and as delicious as it looks in the pictures!

The first course was Feldsalat, my all-time favourite salad, a specialty here in late fall and winter and almost into spring.  It nearly always includes some warm Schinken bits (bacon), a little onion and with small, warm croutons scattered over it.  The dressing is not the same dressing they use in their usual salads.  This is generally the case at all Gasthäuser who serve this delicious seasonal specialty

The goose came next, presented on a platter before being served to us.  Herr Brucker had more than one goose, of course, as there were 13 of us. 

Hans had requested particular side dishes and all were excellent.  They included: cooked red cabbage; dumplings with croutons in the centre, which is traditional; superb mashed potatoes as well as boiled potatoes.  

Herr Brucker added candied hot chestnuts, which were excellent and, of  course, a wonderful gravy.  Dishes of cranberry sauce were within arm's reach.

A plate was served to each person with goose meat and a leg and then the platters of all the various dishes, including goose meat, were placed at intervals along the length of the table:  all one wished to eat and all one could possibly eat.  The wine flowed.  The picture below shows everyone relaxing after a wonderful meal and now, mostly empty glasses.  That dinner was as excellent as any you could have anywhere, whether at home or in a very good restaurant.
I am not sure how I managed to eat this sundae with hot chocolate sauce and whipped cream, but I did!
Silvi surprised us at the end of our meal with her handmade Christmas tree on a small board for all the women.  I have ours outside our door on a small table (her tree on the far right below).  Silvi's husband, Hans, helped to distribute them.
The Wirtin, Frau Brucker

Now a few pictures of a couple of our other local Gasthäuser during the pre-Christmas period.

 The Rebstock in Münchweier where we stopped in for a glass of wine (me) and a beer (Hans)

The Engel in Dorlinbach, where we had dinner that evening.

The Linde in Wallburg, the Gasthaus where I go each week for their wonderful chicken.  Below left, the cascade of spruce branches greeting guests before entering the main room of the Gasthaus.  On the right, the sign for the well known beer from the Schlossbrauerei zu Schmieheim, just two kilometers from Wallburg.  This is their special Weihnachts or Christmas beer.  Many of the Gasthäuser serve it, including the Linde.  These three pictures below I took a week ago.

If the snow stops and the roads are clear, we shall go this evening.

The picture following shows Wallburg's town Christmas tree. 
  Hans' beer glass shows the name of the Hieronymus beer.  Weissherbst, my wine of choice, and a small Schnaps glass to aid digestion for Hans
It is now the following day and we did go to the Linde last evening.  The Gasthaus was very busy with people wishing to go out and not having to cook at home before the last big celebration of the year.  First, though, we drove to Schmieheim to see the tallest living and lighted spruce Christmas tree in Germany.  That is also where the Schlossbrauerei is located whose beer the Linde serves. 

The Schloss or castle/chateau is located in the town
The brewery

Our car parked in front of that largest lighted Christmas tree 

The beautiful Christmas music is now past for another year.  New Year's and its joyful music is about to begin.  We are staying at home once again for our own celebration and the beginning of another year. 

May you all enjoy a safe and happy New Year's Eve!
Prost Neujahr!

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