As for the wine, it doesn’t need to be expensive or high quality, but full bodied dry red wine should be used for the cake. So far, I have tried two varieties: Spätburgunder (German Pinot Noir) and Zinfandel. I chose wine with slightly smoky, spicy and cocoa flavours, and that goes well with chocolate. I used:
140 Jahre Spätburgunder trocken (2013) – Winzergenossenschaft Mayschoß-Altenahr
Napa Valley Zinfandel (2013) – Napa Cellars
The Napa Zinfandel matched with cocoa/chocolate so well that aroma of spices had been drowned out, so I added ½ tsp allspice more, i.e. 1 tsp allspice for the Zinfandel and ½ for the Spätburgunder cake.
The cakes baked with the each wine properly stored for a few days after opening taste better than with those two right after being opened.
For the people who prefer less sweet cake with very dry wine:
from Mendoza, Algentina Amancaya Gran Reserva (2013) – Domaines Barons de Rothchild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena (alc. 14.5%, Malbec 60-70% Cabernet Sauvignon 30-40%)
from Puglia, Italy Chocolate Tube (2015) – Mare Magnum ( alc. 14.5%, Primitivo 100%)
If obtainable, do use Alter Eco’s Nor Intense chocolate. My brownies baked with this choc are divine 🙂 , and it turned out be perfect for the Rotweinkuchen as well!!
(for 16 cm Gugelhupf tin)
110 ml full-bodied red wine (I tried Spätburgunder / Zinfandel), warmed
40 g sugar free dark chocolate (I used cacao 60 %), grated
150 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ – 1 tsp allspice, to adjust
150 g butter, softened at room temperature
150 g caster sugar
2 egg, whisked
icing sugar, to decorate
(optional: whipped cream)
Preheat oven to 180° C. Add chocolate in the warm wine to dissolve completely and set aside.
Into a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon and allspice.
In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg a quarter at a time, beating well after each addition.
Fold in the flour mixture until just combined, then stir in the wine mixture until evenly combined.
Spoon into a greased tin and bake for about 60-70 minutes or until a skewer poked in comes out clean.
Leave it stand for 10 minutes and turn it out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
Dust with icing sugar to serve. Tastes better the next day or two than when freshly baked but store properly to keep the cake moist.
Some of you may already know, but I am into German wine, especially Ahr red wine. And again, I made a visit to the wine region this September, during the harvest season.
It was a bit early for the beautiful ‘Golden October’, but the leaves in the mountains and the vineyards had started turning yellow and brown.
The harvest of Frühburgunder, ‘pinot madeleine’ or ‘pinot noir précoce’ in French, had been done a week before my arrival and the vintners were about to move on to Spätburgunder. Frühburgunder is a mutation of Spätburgunder, and ripens approximately two weeks earlier than Spätburgunder. (früh = early, spät = late)
This year I enjoyed a different weinfest: Dernau Winzerfest, or Dernau Vintners Festival. It is one of the biggest wine festivals in Ahr, so tons of tourists got together in and around Dernau, which caused not only traffic (hikers) jams on the Rotweinwanderweg but also train delays! (What was worse, there were construction work on tracks and a fire somewhere on a track or at a station, which caused more delays, train cancellations, destination changes etc… and I almost missed my flight back to Tokyo!! )
I didn’t see such a number of people last August – pretty amazing – and I found that “most of Ahr wine is consumed locally and by the tourists” is completely true.
Do you remember that my previous visit was too early for Federweißer and Zwiebelkuchen (Zwiebelkuchen posted in September 2015)? Rotwein the Foodie never forgot about it 😀
Bought a 1.0 litre bottle of Federweißer and enjoyed it with Zwiebelkuchen, onion tart and Käsekuchen, cheesecake, which matched really well! Federweißer is sweet and low alcohol drink (about 8%) and tastes like juice, so I could manage to finish the bottle in 3 – 4 days! Sometimes I sipped it in the morning before going out 😀
Also enjoyed Federrotter made from red grapes. I prefer weißer though.
It’s worth visiting Ahr for its beautiful red wines but also worthwhile for Federweißer/rotter in autumn 🙂
As I wrote the other day, I received a birthday postcard from one of my Postcrossing friends in Germany. The curried butternut squash soup I am posting here is based on her recipe she had shared with me earlier. (In return for the recipe, sent her a tourist postcard while in Scotland, and then the birthday card reached.)
Oh, what a timing! Just received another mail from her – with a cutting of newspaper article on a German pumpkin festival on the very day of Halloween!! Danke!!
I followed her recipe with some simple alterations: used butternut, shallot, coconut sugar and vegetable bouillon instead of pumpkin, onion, white sugar and chicken bouillon, added ginger and coriander, and also sauté process. Quantities of the ingredients were not specified, so I prepared them according to my taste.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ginger root, freshly grated
50 g French shallot (eschallot), finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro stalk, finely chopped
1 ½ tsp curry powder
1 kg butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed
150 g potato, peeled and cubed
800 ml water
2 tbsp no sodium vegetable bouillon
1 ½ tsp fine sea salt (adjust according to the bouillon package instructions)
¾ tsp ground cumin
½ tbsp coconut sugar
a smidgen – a pinch of cayenne pepper, to adjust
ground black pepper, to taste
fresh coriander/cilantro, coarsely chopped (optional)
fresh coriander/cilantro leaves, to garnish
( For 3 -4 servings)
In a large saucepan, put in 2 tbsp olive oil and the ginger and fry over low heat stirring consistently until fragrant. Add the shallot and coriander stalk, and sauté for a few minutes but not brown. Spoon in the curry powder, then carry on until fragrant. Add the rest (1 tbsp) of the olive oil and increase the heat to medium. Add the squash and potato, and cook stirring constantly until it starts to soften but not brown.
Pour the water into the pan, stir in the bouillon, salt, cumin, sugar, cayenne and black pepper, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cover to simmer for about 20 minutes or so until the vegetables have softened.
Purée the soup in a food processor or a blender until completely smooth. Return to the pan and reheat over low heat. Pour in some water if the soup is too thick. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. (optional: Stir in the chopped coriander and ) remove from the heat.
Serve the soup in bowls with swirls of crème fraîche and coriander leaves.
Mmmmm so tasty! I like the soup so much that I can eat this enough for two, or even three! 😀 Thank you, my dear Postcrossing friend in Germany. I will write you back later on. 🙂
Three flammkuchen – with bacon & onion, smoked salmon & courgette, fig & cranberry cheese – recipes to follow below.
As I posted last month, I went to Germany last year to see the wine festivals. What I enjoyed most there, however, is Rotweinwanderweg, i.e. Red Wine Hiking Trail, rather than the festivals.
Rotweinwanderweg runs high above the floor of the Ahr Valley along the River Ahr which flows into the Rhine just south of Bonn. It offers beautiful views over the vineyards and spectacular ones overlooking the valley.
The trail is 35.6 km long and takes in the winemaking villages in the Ahr wine region en route (More about the region, read my Holiday in Vineyards): from Altenahr in the west, it stretches via Mayschoß, Rech, Dernau and Marienthal, passing by Walporzheim (where I saw the festival), Ahrweiler (where I stayed) and Heimersheim (where another festival was held), then to Bad Bodendorf in the east.
Unlike in the Lower Ahr Valley between Walporzheim and Heimersheim with flatter vineyards and mainly loess soil, in the Middle Ahr Valley, vines grow on the steep terraced cliffs of volcanic slate. The grapes on the south-facing vineyard slopes can receive a greater intensity of the sun’s rays, with sunshine falling on an angle perpendicular to the hillside, and the soil has an ability to store heat during the day, and gently releases it during the night. This is one of the reasons why full-bodied wines can develop here despite the northern location.
See? How steep the vineyards are!
I’m not a wine expert. I don’t know much about Terroir and how different soils affect the flavour of wine, but I liked the wines from the Middle Ahr Valley more.
I hiked about 3/4 of Rotweinwanderweg – 26.1 km between Altenahr and Bad Neuenahr Ahrweiler in 3 days. Sometimes I walked down to the villages for some break and sometimes got lost in the mountains 😀 – cos it intermingles with the Nordic Walking Trail!! So I reckon I walked at least 30 km in total.
Walking in the mountains and vineyards, in the fresh air and pleasant sunshine, I felt myself extremely happy – almost natural high like a marathon runner! This is when I decided to start a blog, hence my name, ‘Rotwein Wanderer’.
Most of the trail runs through open vineyards, and various descents and paths lead you from the vineyards into the winemaking villages.
Each village has some wineries or wine estates where you can sample some wines in their tasting rooms, and cozy restaurants and taverns which serve the local wines. (Read Rhine and Around: Ahr on wine tasting at a wine estate in Ahr – I’m glad she also found the hidden gem! and jealous cos I couldn’t try Jean Stodden’s!!)
As usual, well-organised Rotwein the foodie had already planned where to have a break and what to eat – like a marathon runner who plots out. 😀 Then headed down a ramp for the first water station, more precisely, DRINK station in Marienthal.
Weingut Kloster Marienthal was once state owned, but two cooperative wineries, the Winzergenossenschaft Mayschoss-Altenahr and Dagernova Weinmanufaktur, and two private wine estates, Weingut Brogsitter and Weingut Meyer-Näkel, have managed since 2004. In the vinotheque, you can taste some Kloster Marienthal wines and also purchase a limited range of the four owners’ as well as Kloster Mariental’s.
Weingut Kloster Mariental is located in the former Marienthal Convent with a cafe/restaurant. I took a seat in the patio with a wonderful ambience – surrounded by the ruins of the convent and a view of the greenish vineyards ahead of me.
I ordered „Klassisch“ – ‘Classic’ or traditional flammkuchen – with bacon, onion and cheese along with a glass of their Blanc de Noir as I had found it my very ‘cup of tea’ at Heimersheim Wine Festival a few days earlier.
The flammkuchen was superb – the best one I’ve ever had! Very crispy rather than crunchy, rich but light at the same time, perfect saltiness….
It was so good that I couldn’t help experimenting at home although I knew it was difficult to roll out the dough very thin and to make it really crisp in high flame – my electric oven isn’t enough!! I believe, however, it turned out rather good! Other than ‘Classic’, tried something different. I wanted to use Wensleydale cheese with cranberries but not available in this country, so substituted Boursin’s – the black pepper gave it a good kick!
If you would like to enjoy with some wine, try Blanc de Noir if available, or Riesling if not. As for the dessert flammkuchen? Hmmm…. Spätlese, Auslese…. I don’t store sweet/er German wines, so paired with sweet Sicilian spumante made from Moscato Bianco, or Muscat Blanc, which went nice together.
(makes 2: about 20cm x 20cm each)
for the dough (makes 2)
1 tsp instant dry yeast
1/4 tsp honey
100 ml/cc lukewarm water
150 g bread flour
30 g whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp olive oil plus some for coating
for the topping
i) Klassisch (for 2)
80 g sour cream
2 tsp Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
white pepper, to taste)
30 g eschallot (French shallot), finely chopped, squeeze and pat dried with paper towel
50 g bacon, chopped
40 g red onion, thinly sliced
fresh chive (to sprinkle), chopped
ii) smoked salmon & courgette (for 2)
100 g sour cream
½ tsp truffle salt (I used black truffle salt)
white pepper (to taste)
30 g eschallot (French shallot), finely chopped, squeeze and pat dried with paper towel
100 g smoked salmon
½ – 1 courgette, thinly sliced
fresh dill (to garnish)
iii) fig & cranberry cheese (for 2)
100 g Boursin Cranberry & Pepper cheese
7 – 8 fresh fig, sliced
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 – 2 tbsp runny honey, to adjust (I used orange blossom honey)
For the dough, dissolve the yeast and honey in the lukewarm water, and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Tip the flours and the salt into a bowl, and mix and form a well in the middle. Pour in the yeasty water and the oil, then mix thoroughly. Knead by hand for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Add in some more flour or water a little at a time if required.
Shape the dough into a ball and coat the surface lightly with the olive oil. Place in a bowl, and cover with a clean tea towel or clingfilm. Allow to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
Remove the dough from the bowl, and punch down gently to degas. Divide into two equal pieces, shape both into a ball, and grease with the oil. Cover again and allow to rise a second time for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine i) the sour cream and yogurt in a small bowl. Add in the eschallot, nutmeg, salt and pepper, or ii) cream the sour cream in a small bowl. Add in the eschallot, truffle salt and pepper, and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
On a piece of parchment paper, roll out the dough pieces (2-3 mm). Prick all over with a fork. Spread half of i), ii) the cream mixture or iii) the cranberry cheese onto the dough, but leave a small border around the edge.
i) Scatter with the bacon and onion on top, ii) Top with the courgette and smoked salmon, or iii) Top with the fig, drop the balsamic on each figs and sprinkle with the cinnamon. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are nicely browned and the bottom is crisp.
Remove from the oven, and i) sprinkle with the chive, ii) garnish with the dill, or iii) drizzle over the honey.
A year has passed since my summer holiday in Germany last year – beautiful and peaceful days in vineyards.
<Itinerary> Dusseldorf Airport – Cologne (Cologne Cathedral) – Ahrweiler (8 days; one day trip to Rühdesheim am Rhein) – Frankfurt Airport
I stayed in one of Germany’s least-known and northernmost wine regions, Ahr where, unlike other regions, red wines are primarily produced (about 85% of the total wine production), and enjoyed three wine festivals during the stay. If you wonder why not beer festivals or why red wine rather than white wine, you might want to read my post, Holiday in Vineyards.
Cologne – Cologne Cathedral (14th August 2015)
On the way to Ahrweiler, stopped over at Cologne to see the cathedral. It was almost suicide for exhausted, jet-lagged, sleepy and hungry Rotwein to climb up the tower – 100 m high and with 533 steps – after 17 hour journey and just before lunch!
Heimersheim Weinfest (14th – 16th August 2015)
After checked in a holiday apartment and had a shower, headed to Heimersheim, adjacent to Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, the capital of Ahrweiler district, for the opening of the festival and the proclamation of the new wine queen.
The admission was 6 euros (valid for 3 days; 5 euros for Sunday only), and 3 euros for a wine cup (See the pic above – the admission wristband and the cup).
I had (only 😀 ) two cups at the wine stands that night, but many were enjoying a bottle (presumably, bottles) with their family or friends. There were also food stands available.
On the following day, went back there (of course with the cup 😀 ) for the historical vintners’ procession followed by the wine queen.
The most famous winery in Heimersheim is Weingut Nelles (VDP). Although I had no chance to visit their office/winery for wine tasting, tried two wines from the winery at the festival – Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) RUBER and Blanc de Noir – Trocken (dry), and loved the latter so much that I brought the bottle back home.
‘Blanc de Noir’, or Pinot Noir Blanc/White Pinot Noir, is made from Pinot Noir grapes in a white wine style, produced quickly removing the skins from the juice after the grapes have been pressed. ‘Blanc de Noir’ is often used for Champagne or sparkling wine. In Ahr, however, it refers to white still wine made from Spätburgunder grapes.
‘Blanc de Noir’ tastes richer than white, and the colour, as you can imagine, is pinkish but lighter than rosé. Nelles’s is slightly orangish or light salmon (See the pic with the cup above). They describe it ‘on the nose, vineyard peach, passion fruit and pineapple, in the mouth these aromas are supported by the elegant fruit acidity.’ It was perfect for summer drinking.
The day after the procession, I took a train down to Rüdesheim am Rhein for another weinfest. Rüdesheime is located in Rheingau, one of the most famous German wine regions for its high quality Riesling. In Rheingau, white grapes cover about 85 % of the vineyards, and as for the vine varieties, Riesling approx. 78% of the total wine production (2014 statistics).
Drosselgasse is a major draw for visitors. There are wide range of wine bars, garden taverns and traditional restaurants – a good place to sample local wines! Also a place to try famous ‘Rüdesheim Kaffee’, Asbach brandy and coffee with a topping of whipped cream. I wanted to try the coffee, but I couldn’t…. Well, the thing was I couldn’t take anymore alcohol after Rüdesheimer Weinfest!!
It was a rainy and chilly day (about 13°C）and not an ideal day for Riesling….
And yet, had 3 or 4 wines (I can’t recall!) shivering in the rain: Sekt, German sparkling wine from Solter and Riesling Spätlese from Leitz (VDP), which I liked most at the festival.
Rüdesheim am Rhein is not only the place for drinking! The cable car ride up to the Niederwald Monument offers you panoramic views over vineyards and the scenic views of the Rhine. I was going to take a Rhein River Cruise from Rüdesheim on the way back to Ahrweiler, but rain and fog discouraged me 😦
Well, that was fine as Hausgemachter Sauerbraten vom Rind ,,RHEINISCHE ART”, Kartoffelklößen und Apfelmus – Braised beef (marinated in vinegar), dumplings and applesauce at Ratsstube compensated it 🙂
Later at home, I learnt that one of the most popular travel bloggers was also in Rüdesheime for the festival. Her posts will give you more details about Rüdesheimer Weinfest and Riesling in Rheingau:
Ländliches Weinfest Walporzheim (21st – 23rd August 2015)
Rural Walporzheim Wine Festival is held on the 4th Weekend in August with winegrowers’ parade on Sunday and fireworks on Monday. I was supposed to go home on Saturday, so I just saw the opening and the announcement of the new wine queen on Friday evening.
It was a bit smaller than Heimersheim one, but I liked the cozy and intimate atmosphere – perfect for the last night in Ahr. I had had enough red wines, especially Spätburgunder, for 8 days, so topped off the last night with white wine and rosé sparkling.
<about a year ago>
Okay, my next destination is going to be Germany, but where in Deutschland?
When it comes to Germany, oktoberfest and beer come up to mind.
What about wine then? Do they have wine festivals?
They produce good white wines, but red wine sounds unfamiliar …
That was the prologue of my trip. I did lots of research trying to find my ‘cup of tea’ in Germany, and in the end, picked up AHR – one of the smallest and least-known of Germany’s 13 wine regions, where red grapes cover 84.2% of its total vineyard surface while in Germany overall, just 35.1% (2014 stats. Source: Deutscher Wein Statistik 2015/2016). More over, unlike Württemberg, another region of which red grape production predominates, Ahr is one of the northernmost wine-growing areas in Germany/Europe. In other words, despite the northern location, four out of five bottles of Ahr wine are red.
Ahr’s red vine varieties are Spätburgunder (63.1% of the vineyard area including white), Frühburgunder (6.6%), Portugieser, Regent, Dornfelder etc (cf. Riesling 8.2%). The name of the dominant red grape is the German synonym for Pinot Noir. ‘Spät’ means ‘late’ in English (I completely mastered the word at the train stations – ’10 minuten später’ – and learnt that DB, or Deutsche Bahn, trains are as unreliable as Virgin in the UK!), and ‘burgunder’ refers to the variety’s Burgundian origins. That is, Spätburgunder is Pinot Noir which ripens relatively late in the season. (Frühburgunder – ‘früh’ means ‘early’ – is an early ripening mutation of Pinot Noir.) You may already know but Germany is the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir after France and USA.
Have you ever tried or heard about Ahr wine, by the way? It is said that most of the wine is consumed locally and by the tourists. Unsurprisingly due to the small acreage (564 ha/1,393 ac), it’s quite difficult to find it in the marketplace outside Germany. Mmmmmm, must be a hidden gem! The peculiarity of the region and the rarity of the wine were attractive enough for the hidden gem hunter to choose Ahr for her holiday!!
Well, I should also mention wine festivals. In Ahr, lots of wine related events are held throughout the year. The festival season starts in May, and September is the heyday. I planned a visit, however, for August as I wanted to see Heimersheim’s historical festival with the proclamation of the new queen of wine and the vintners’ procession, and one in Walporzheim at the following weekend. What is more, I luckily found another one in that same period, not in Ahr though, and added one more to my itinerary: Rüdesheimer Weinfest in Rheingau, one of the most famous German wine regions for its high quality Riesling. Rüdesheim am Rhein is a 2.5 hour journey away by train, so it’s easy to make a day trip. Then I fixed my schedule – 3 German wine festivals in 9 days!! (The stories about those three festivals are to be followed after ‘where to stay in Ahr’ information.)
How to get to Ahr
From Cologne Bonn Airport(Flughafen Köln/Bonn): approx 1.5 hour by bus and train
1. Airport — Bonn Hbf （Bonn Central Station): bus 35 mins
2. Bonn Hbf (bound for Ahrbrück) — Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler: direct train 35 mins
2. Bonn Hbf (for Koblenz Hbf) — Remagen (for Dernau/Ahrbrück) — Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler: trains 35 mins
From Dusseldorf Airport (Flughafen Düsseldorf ): approx 2 hours by train
Airport (for Koblenz Hbf) — Remagen — Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler
From Frankfurt Airport (Flughafen Frankfurt (M)): approx 2.5 – 3 hours by train
Airport — Bonn Hbf — Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler
Airport — Koblenz Hbf — Remagen — Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler
Just before the summer has gone, we had a potluck picnic.
A friend of mine was going to bring red wine with her, so I chose white summer wine. ‘Something good cold too’ needed to be prepared for Riesling. I had just learnt through my cooking that the wine goes well with heavy cream, so Zwiebelkuchen, quiche-like German onion tart immediately came to mind as it had stuck to me recently.
During my holiday in Germany last month, Federweißer (literally means ‘white feather’ in German), a fizzy alcoholic beverage fermented from freshly pressed grape juice, traditionally served with Zwiebelkuchen was on my ‘to-eat/drink’ list. One day at a wine tasting table, Rotwein the Foodie, who doesn’t understand any German except some words, never failed to catch the word when the locals chatting with the winemaker mentioned ‘Federweißer’. Unhesitatingly she asked the winemaker in expectation.
was his reply, sad to say. Actually, in some German wine regions, people enjoy the combination in autumn, normally in September and October – just before the fermented grape juice turns to be wine in wine making process, and mid-August was not the right time yet unfortunately. 😦
So Zwiebelkuchen was missed out of the list as well – one of the regrets I left undone in Germany. Anyway, the Riesling (fresh and slightly fizzy white wine) and the Zwiebelkuchen matched well and turned out to be more than the compensation, and besides, they were perfect for the picnic to farewell the summer and welcome the autumn.
Ingredients (for 20-22cm pie plate)
A: sour cream
180ml lukewarm heavy cream (30-40℃) 2 tbsp yogurt
(substitute: 200ml crème fraîche will work) B:Dough
200g flour 100ml milk 40g butter, room temperature
1 tbsp sugar ½ tsp salt 1 tsp dry yeast C: Filling
100g bacon, chopped
3.5 – 4 medium onions (650-700g), sliced thinly
1 – 2 tsp salt (adjust to taste; 2 tsp as appetizer for alcohol) D:Egg Filling
2 eggs 4 tbsp flour 1 tsp caraway seeds
Stir the yogurt into the lukewarm heavy cream, and leave it in a warm place overnight or for half a day. (If you use crème fraîche, this process not required)
Put Ingredient B (except milk) into a bowl, then make a well, pour in milk and bring together. Knead for 5 mins until smooth. Cover with a tea towel or clingfilm and set aside for at least 30 mins.
Saute the bacon over low heat (no need to be crispy) and set aside. Then saute the onion slowly in the bacon fat adding salt on low heat until translucent and beginning to brown. Set aside to cool.
Whisk the eggs and the flour together in a bowl, stir in the sour cream and caraway seeds, and put the onion and bacon in.
Preheat the oven 190℃
Roll dough out on a lined and lightly floured pie plate. Lightly prick the base of the tart with a fork, and pour the egg filling with onion and bacon mixture over the dough.
Put it on the lower rack of the oven and bake for 40-50 mins, or until golden brown on top.
Oma’s Reibekuchen served at 5.00 pm every Friday is another regret, hmmmmm