We were in Kaiserslautern, Germany last week, also known (by me) as Little America. There is a large U.S. military presence there, something in the range of 80,000 persons, and it's very obvious. Everyone speaks English, the roads are overrun with big American cars (hummers, SUV's) with American license plates, all the advert's are in American English and dollars are the currency of choice. I had to buy coffee with a credit card. Why would I think to bring dollars to Germany?
We were there for the retirement (U.S. Air Force Colonel) ceremony of my cousin. For an entire day I was hobnobbing with Colonels and Generals and Master
Chef Chief something or others. Talk about a fish out of water. No one could believe that I had never been on a military base before! I couldn't believe they found that odd! They were all, every last striped, barred, eagled and starred one of them, very friendly and welcoming.
I decided it wouldn't be prudent to tell them I didn't know what all their pretty jewelry meant; or that I had been a rather active anti-war protester in my day; or that the guys I knew that had been in the military mostly carried hash (not the corned beef kind) in their ammo packs rather than bullets. Nope, wouldn't be prudent! Travel and food seemed the safest topics.
Ah yes, the food! My apologies to all of my German friends, but I have nothing to say on the topic. I love German food and we usually find wonderful restaurants to eat in. But that was not to be done in this instance. The two restaurants we ate in catered to American military and so did the food. Service was swift and the portions huge. It was good, just not the caliber I usually seek out when I travel. Seven different ways of fixing schnitzel and not much else. I ordered spaetzle one night (which I dearly love and only get in Germany) and received a big serving of plain old wide noodles – naked! The next night it was a huge platter of fries. Normally I find the German ways with potatoes and pasta to be extraordinary, these were barely ordinary.
We did have a lovely tomato soup first course one evening, quite unlike anything I've had before and excellent. (I'm still puzzling over it!) And one can never go wrong with warm apple strudel and ice cream….
We managed to fit a wee bit of touristy stuff in and important stuff, like buying wine.
The photos: Top is Idar-Oberstein. Yes that is a church built into the side of the rock face half way up! (click to make larger). We stopped to see the church. I didn't know that this lovely village was the gem capital of Germany. Had I known I would have planned on lots more shopping time. Had mon mari known we would never have found it.
Next is the picturesque village of Zell on the Mosel. Shown is Schloss Zell, the castle hotel we stayed in many years ago on our first trip to Germany. You can see the vineyards climbing the hills behind. Most of the vineyards along the Mosel are incredibly steep; I don't see how the people stay on them to work.
Then we have the important stuff: wine. When in Zell one gets Zeller Scwarze Katz or 'Black Cat' wine. I exercised great self-control and only bought six bottles, a nice variety of sweet and dry. Did you know that wine from the Mosel region comes in green bottles and is drunk in green stemmed glasses? If it's from the Rhine the bottles and stems are brown.
Are you thinking 'German sweet wines'? Why?!? Let me assure you that a good German Spatlese or Auslese is wonderful. The deep amber liquid is the nectar of the gods: sweet, silky, fragrant; it's like drinking gold!
I will not go so far to say that it rivals a Sauterne but, for the price, it does for me! A glass with some pan-seared foie gras is perfect. Just the right amount of sweetness to offset the richness. And with a bit of raclette in from of the fireplace in winter…
All I can say is it's worthy of my D.O. award! (Digestive Org*sm).
Say, can anyone tell me if all of those black cats qualify this is an entry in Weekend Cat Blogging?