Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Prosit to the New Year

We began the New Year quietly, that is until the fireworks began almost on our doorstep.  At midnight, the Champagne was being poured, the church bells were ringing and the fireworks were lighting up the sky.  In other words, a traditional beginning to a new year here in Germany.

 "Dinner for One" shows an opening scene.

We began that last evening of 2014 in our usual way:  watching "Dinner for One" on television around 7 p.m.  We laughed just as much this year as every other year.  At one time, only those who received German television signals could enjoy it.  Now all of Europe does.   

Our New Year's Eve supper began shortly after "Dinner for One" ended.  We had our first course--caviar on toast--accompanied by Sekt (Champagne):  a good ending to the old year and a fitting greeting to the new one about to begin.


We followed the caviar and Sekt with Heisse Stein--cooking on a hot stone which is heated from below--our New Year's Eve special meal.  It is simple, relaxing and enjoyable.  One prepares it all ahead and with a minimum of time and effort, making it a great meal after a busy Christmas season of baking, cooking and socializing. I have written about it at least once before. So perhaps this will be the last year for a while as both Hans and I agree it is, perhaps, the time to do something else.

Below, the table is ready and so are we.  The meat included beef filet, pork filet and Nürnberger sausages.  I love those; they are easy to cook on the stone and go well with a sauce.  The vegetables included onions, red peppers, and mushrooms.

Below, the stone and heating unit, with our meat and vegetables cooking away.

The five sauces (left to right):  curry sauce, steak sauce, both bought and very good; then, at the top, my curry and garlic sauce.  To the right, my BBQ sauce and lastly, Aioli sauce, also bought and very good.

I gave a BBQ sauce recipe on my blog about spareribs (10 Dec 2012).  It makes a lot and is very good.  It would be great for the Heisse Stein as well.  The one I used this time follows below and is also very good for Heisse Stein, ribs, pork and chicken. 

BBQ Sauce
14 oz bottle ketchup (2 cups approx.)
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/3 cup wine vinegar (red or white)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons steak sauce (such as HP)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Method:  Combine all ingredients in a saucepan; simmer 30 minutes.  Makes about 2-2/3 cups. 

My curry/garlic sauce I gave in my blog post on 2 January 2011. It is so simple and so good, though, that I shall give it again here.  It goes well with both pork and chicken as well as the sausages.  I usually make it early in the day and keep it covered in the fridge until using.

Curry and Garlic Sauce for Heisse Stein, Meat Fondue or for  Pork and Chicken (You can halve the recipe if wished, as I did.)
2 cloves garlic
A little salt
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons or so of chopped chives
2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder

Method:  Crush garlic to a smooth paste with a little salt.  Mix mayonnaise, chopped chives and curry powder together.  Stir in the garlic mixture to the mayonnaise mixture.  It is now ready to serve. 

Hans had opened on this occasion what is, I believe, our last bottle of Chateau Cantemerle Haut Medoc, a 1995 Bordeaux Grand Cru.  It is one of our favourites and although 20 years old, it was still excellent. 


We enjoyed our leisurely meal and the music Hans had on the stereo system, but later, because of the fireworks at midnight, we had to keep the four cats calm.  Annabelle, who was a feral kitten when she joined our household 14 years ago, always hides in the basement; Brownie, our huge male cat and a stray we brought in, hides in a corner under and behind the table; Lily, our Canadian female cat, doesn't hide but she doesn't appreciate it either. Whitey, our small black and white female and also a stray we brought in, sat on top of the organ the entire time without batting an eye. 

Hans went off to bed first.  I was up until 1:30 a.m. when all the fireworks were finally spent and the cats came out from hiding.

We awoke on New Year's Day to the sun.  The snow was still there, but it was beautiful.
 The Wien Concert Saal
At approximately 11 o'clock that morning we sat down for two and a half hours to watch the annual Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra concert that is televised live every year on New Year's Day from the concert hall in Wien.  


Champagne was passed to the orchestra by the renowned conductor, Zubin Mehta

It was, as always, a fabulous concert.  It not only included the concert itself but also some ballet from the Vienna State Ballet company plus a tour of the historic part of the city and environs, with the concert music accompanying it all.

Both of us were tired later in the day and did not want another big meal, so that would wait for the weekend.

On Friday evening, the 2nd, we felt it was time to get out of the house.  We went to the Gasthaus Kleiner Meierhof in Ettenheimweiler, one of the local Gasthäuser we frequent. 
Erich was kept busy pouring beer from the tap.

The Stammtisch was busy as per usual on a Friday evening.  
The regulars or Stammgäste sat around the large round table with discussions going on about the state of the world and the local politics, with Hans joining in before our meal arrived from our own table nearby . 

Our table with my Weissherbst (rose wine) and Hans' 1 litre Bierstein, Schlossbräu, Schmieheim

The Wirtin and Wirt, Silvia and Erich

On Saturday the temperature rose and within a very short period of time the snow was completely gone.  Sunday, the sun was shining.  

That evening we had what was to have been our New Year's supper: Raclette.  We had decided to wait as we had been so busy throughout the holiday period. 

We began in the living room before the Raclette with a bottle of Sekt.


Then to the table and a relaxing evening of cheese, potatoes and accompaniments.

Hans using the scraper to help the melting cheese along


With the raclette, we had a lovely bottle of Scheurebe, one of our favourite white wines.  It had a lot of flavour and suited the cheese perfectly.

In the photo below, I am holding my glass of Scheurebe in a special wine glass, one from the Markgräflerland (south of Freiburg) for the grape they are known for:  not for Scheurebe, but for Gutedel, the wine the locals in that region drink most often.  The crystal glass, though, is lovely enough for any wine, especially one as flavourful as Scheurebe.  (That wine comes most often from the Rhineland Pfalz, although some vintners in Baden-Württemberg also produce it.) 

Raclette and Heisse Stein are both relaxing meals and easy to prepare ahead.  Neither takes a lot of fancy preparation or time.  Not only that:  both make for an enjoyable evening.

We ended our meal with my chocolate mousse that I had made a couple days ahead and had in the freezer all ready to serve.  Topped with whipped cream and some Cassis, it was a fitting end to an enjoyable evening.  (I gave this recipe in my blog post of 2 January 2011.)

Our last foray of the Christmas and New Year's season was to the Gasthaus Deutscher Hof in Biederbach, a 35-minute drive into the hills.  We joined a group we meet at the Stammtisch on Mondays.


Ruth (the Wirtin) and the Gasthaus Christmas tree.

We enjoyed a great Christmas and New Year's, but it is now time to go headlong into 2015.  We wish you all peace, good health and happiness!