Wining and dining Alsace style

We are on our way back to Calais after a six night stay in Selestat. the villages we visited Riqhwihr, Kayersbourg, Bergheim, are where I imagine the artists at disney visited before working on Beauty and the Beast. I haven't ever come across such well kept medieval towns- not a lick of graffitti, yet still very much living towns, none of the saccharine perfection of the renditions of old Europe at Disney World.

We visited Freiburg on the other side of the Rhine on Wed, but it rained that day and I was grumpy, so we didn't stay long. It did have two yarn shops- but with really commercial yarns – nothing that jumped out and shrieked BUY ME I'M ROCK 'N ROLL! Incidentally, what's happening at the wollmeise? All her stuff is on clearance?

The food is rather better suited for winter (choucroute, cream, big hunks of meat) but delicious nonetheless. I will have to start a gym regime as a consequence of the week's indulgences.

We visited three vignerons, the amazing Marcel Deiss, Domaine Engel and of course Trimbach. Alsace is famous for its wines- mostly dry Rieslings and Gewurztraminer, but it also produces yummy Sylvaner, pinot gris and pinot noir (surprisingly good!). Before the prussian invasion, alsatian wines were more reknown and sought after than even some top name bordeaux!

Perhaps mistakenly we went to Marcel Deiss first. He has some basic single varietals, but his single vineyard wines, a blend of regional grapes- are beautifully complex and he is rightly reknown for these. The young chap working there was a little sullen to begin with, but he warmed up and recommended a cool bierstub in one of the nearby villages. A little bit goth but they had a fab selection of beer and were playing the chilli peppers. Good stuff. The wine was fabulous- interesting, with layers of flavour and a crazy long finish. These are created as expressions of terroir, and have can be kept for decades.

We went to domaine Engel next, and whilst the wines were good examples they tasted flat in comparison. We did get a few bottles of the sweet gewurz from engel and their pinot gris-easy every day drinking wine.

Finally we made it to Trimbach. The trimbach family started their winery in 1626, and achieved nationwide recognition when they brought home an award for wine excellence in 1689. Successive generations of Trimbachs have continued the tradition of super dry accurate rieslings. Bit too austere for me, but we did get some pinot gris which was softer and easier to drink, and some lovely dry gewurz. I love those kinds of wines- ones that smell unctuous, honeyed, and feel the same in your mouth, yet are dry. The lady at the winery was a little.. Well robotic. Not quite rude, but def not very friendly either. Didn't keep us from buying wine though. We had a frederic emile riesling 2000 (the better stuff) for dinner last night- and this was gorgeous. Dry. Puckeringly acidic, yet full of honeyed goodness. Really moreish.

We also got some wines from a local wine shop. I intended to get some Jacky Blot's domaine de la taille aux loup chenin blanc – he makes these gorgeous chenin blancs that smell and taste of linden flowers, quince, honey, and are totally dry, but they didn't have them. They did have some Huet vouvray- which got a 19.5 out of 20 by the recently published 2008 edition of Bettane and someone- the best tasters in france, according to the wine shop chap. We got two cases of it- good too since all the cases he had in the shop (about thirty) that morning were all sold, bar three bottles, by the time we returned that afternoon to pick up our wine!

Photo is of the inside of a winestub in Kayersbourg. Wouldn't it be great to have a local like this?

Pitbull update

Ahh it makes sense now. Front page news this morning- an 18 month girl died as a result of a pitbull attack in epernay. So the minister of the interior demands that legislation is brought in to ban them. So stupid. So many tragedies could be averted if, as Yoshimi points out, owners were licensed and they bore responsibility for the dogs actions instead of having the knee jerk reaction of destroying the dog. Symptoms eradicated- but cause? Idiot just gets him/herself another dog- mastiff, rottie, german shepherd… And the banned list grows ever longer.

Will the real Pitbull please stand up?

I did a bit of trawling about pit bulls after yesterday’s case of mistaken identity. It is really sad actually – the whole media frenzy about them has, not surprisingly, left alot of pitbulls in shelters. Pitbulls were banned in Ontario but lucky Neville has made a new home for himself as a POLICEDOG.

And here is a photo of a pit bull:

I think if you ignored the head and imagined a fairy sprinkled shrinking dust all over it then I can just about see Deuce being a pit bull. But the nose. I think one of a pugs most distinctive traits (besides their snorting snurfling sounds) is the lack of snout.

And i found some some great positive press about them – straight from wikipedia (with footnotes so not made up!)

-Often pit bulls have been reported to “adopt” other species of animals (such as kittens or squirrels), which some attribute to the breed nickname, “nanny dog”.[66] It is more widely accepted that the breed nickname, “nanny dog” comes from Pit Bull type dogs innate love and tolerance of children. Though, no dog should ever be trusted alone with children.

-A rescued pit bull called Popsicle is a United States Customs dog, and is famous for sniffing out one of the biggest cocaine busts in history. [67]

-In February 2007 a pit bull named “Chief” rescued his family of humans from a spitting cobra by dashing in front of the attacking snake and taking the deadly bite himself. Chief subdued the snake but died of the venom 30 minutes later. [69]

-In April 2007, columnist John Canzano of The Oregonian newspaper wrote a favorable piece on Hollywood, the pit bull that formerly belonged to NBA player Qyntel Woods. [70] Hollywood, renamed Stella, was adopted by a loving owner and reformed from a fighting dog to a lap dog.

Demon hound of Colmar

Alsace is just beautiful. Everywhere we turn are medieval and renaissance buildings lovingly kept. I keep expecting to turn a corner and see Hansel and Gretel skipping down the cobblestone road such is the old world atmosphere of these towns. Spent today in Colmar. The photo is of the Little Venice quarter- originally home to the fisherman of the town. Colmar is also home to the creator of the statue of liberty- auguste batholdi.

We spent the whole day wandering around. We have been getting strange reactions to Deuce- we get some who coo over him, but more often than not we would get wary stares and people hugging their children closer to them. Then finally some woman started to follow us and twitter on without regard to the fact we weren't stopping or actually engaging. I was curious though – she was telling us about the recent news and banning of the dogs (here she pointed at deuce). I was puzzled- was france banning pugs? Then she said the word 'pitbull' and the penny dropped. She thought deuce was a pitbull. So must have many others Sheesh. I said twice, clearly, in French, that he was a 'carlin' (pug) and NOT a pitbull. I think she was embarrassed and beated a swift retreat. But honestly, it really annoyed me. Firstly because she clearly had no idea what a pitbull looked like. Secondly, this is irresponsible media here- tell people all about dangers of some dog, without any clarity on what those dangerous dogs actually look like. Anyone who knows pugs knows they are about as dangerous as a sponge cake. And lastly, the whole 'they are demon dogs' attitude. Dogs do have inherent characteristics due to generations of selective breeding, eg chasing instinct, but training and socialisation play a huge part too in behaviour. I should have yelled "kill kill deuce!" And pointed at the lady. She would have seen how effective a killing machine he is. He would have looked at me all confused and then flopped on his back for a belly rub. All she might have been in danger of was some stinky wet deuce kisses.

Supplier Profile No.1

I had never touched a skein of her yarn before, yet having seen the beautiful colourings on Knitty I knew I had to have some. And I was not disappointed when I finally laid my greedy hands on a couple skeins! Gorgeous subtle colours and a firm and springy hand. Today’s Supplier Profile is about a talented Canadian husband and wife team. They started their farm business over 10 years ago as a small operation producing sheep and lambs as well as wool yarns and custom knitting kits. After their kids grew up and left home the sheep also went off to new pastures. The couple still have their farm after which the yarn is named. The Mrs. creates the colour combinations and has a real eye for colour which truly shines through in the scrumptious hand dyed yarns, both solid and variegated. A real joy to behold.

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Can you guess who these talented Canadians are? 🙂

David & I are off tomorrow to Alsace for a week – will try to post but if I don’t get a chance enjoy your week!

Houdini

We sat for Max last night as Kat had to go to Finland for business- spent the night at Kat’s by the river. Nice vibe down there, very chilled. Kat came back today and we had dinner at the pub by the river again – Deuce performed his Houdini trick and managed to unclip his harness. We were chatting and looked over to see a little black pug, naked (no harness or collar) trotting away. Thank goodness he isn’t a runner! No idea how he managed to free himself of his harness – no opposable thumbs and all!

Emms – the sock is Monkey (ahhh I so need to knit these) with a bullseye heel. I will ask pinkacrylique how she did it. It is beautiful, no?

Jenny – yes! You should learn to knit. Like B says – it’s the new Rock & Roll! And what better way to learn than for a good cause!

Since 2003, every year knitters up and down the country we have been making little woolly hats for Innocent smoothies to raise funds for Age Concern to support older people in the winter months. Almost 25,000 older people died of cold-related illnesses last winter, so, for a limited period only, these dinky little woolly hats will sit on the top of innocent smoothie bottles in Sainsbury’s and for each hat-wearing smoothie sold, innocent and Sainsbury’s will donate 50p to Age Concern. Year by year we have been receiving more and more hats and last year we were overwhelmed when 230,000 came flooding in. This equated to £115,000 to help keep older people warm when it’s cold outside. So my dears – shall we start to knit? Read more here.

Make over piccies, as promised. I only have a before for the living room and the kitchen counter – but have afters for the bedroom and bathroom. Can you spot the difference? Better yet – can you spot IKEA? 🙂

Living Room Before & After

Dining Before (see above) & After

Kitchen Before & After

Bathroom After

Bedroom After

Deuce – as always!!