Sunday, April 21, 2013

30th March 2013: Colmar, Eguisheim, then Dinner (Again) @ Restaurant Aux Ducs de Lorraine.

Saturday, the 30th March 2013, was our third day in Alsace. Having gone to bed earlier than usual after a long day at Orschwiller and Baden Baden the day before, we awoke earlier than usual and were the earliest at the hotel's breakfast buffet.

The sunlit breakfast lounge for families (there is another one for couples and lone wolves).

Typical French breakfast buffet (nothing like the lavish, sometimes overkill, American-style breakfast buffets we are used to): fresh croissants, pain de chocolat, baguettes, a few kinds of cheese, butter, assorted jams, honey, two kinds of juice (orange and some other), two kinds of ham, some pastries, coffee, hot chocolate, and bottled water (bubbly and still) - more than adequate.

~ oOo ~

After breakfast, we got ready and headed off to Colmar - a large, pretty town with canals running throughout the old part, museums, old buildings, lots of wine shops, and restaurants. It is the best-preserved towns of Alsace per Catha. As I understand it, it is a major Alsatian tourist spot, drawing the most tourists second only to Riquewihr. From the crowds I remember the last time I was here, I believe it.

Like Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé, it is best that tourists like us park in the longer-term pay parking lots within or at the outskirts of the old part of town (many within have time limits ranging from 15 minutes to 2 hours), then just stroll around.

We parked at one across Colmar's gothic l'Église St-Martin (constructed 1234 through 1365). Though, because of its imposing size, it is referred to as a cathedral, strictly speaking, it is not, since it had never been an episcopal see.

One of the two old confessionals I saw there.
Lighting candles for our intentions.
No flashes allowed, so I had to make do in night mode.
I love old churches...
...and their statues.
German Renaissance Maison Pfister, built in 1537, originally owned by Ludwig Scherer.

There was a week-end market going on near the church, where local producers (all claiming to be "artisanal") sell their various wares. Above, Joaqi checks out a pen of geese and ducks.

I saw Renzo and Joaqi hovering around one of the stands selling goose and duck food products, so I warned them to eat lightly so as not to spoil their appetites for lunch. They wound up splitting a good-sized goose foie gras sandwich and reported that it was very good.

Mauro in front of the statue of Lazare de Schwendi (1522-1583; commander of the German imperial army in Hungary) in the Schwendi Fountain.

Catha chose Chez Hansi for our lunch venue.
Kir Royales for apéritifs (Joaqi didn't want any).
My Alsatian/German style Onion Soup. Meh.
Joaqi's Beef with Mushrooms.
Catha & Renzo each went for the Magret de Canard.
Mauro's Rognons de Veau (veal kidneys).
Their sidings were typical Roasted Potatoes...
...and Spätzle.

My main course was the traditional Alsatian Choucroute Royale. It was huge; the above photo shows my plate with barely a third of the serving platter's contents. Supposedly good for two, it could have easily fed all of us. Good thing Mauro & Lorenzo helped me out a bit after they finished their own dishes.

With our main courses, I got a bottle of the only dry reisling they had on their list: 2011 Bestheim Riesling - virtually bone-dry, citrusy and white minerally, it was a pretty good entry-level match for my choucroute royale (I do not know any kind of wine other than dry riesling that goes well with choucroute - garnie, royale or otherwise). My dear friend, JC de Terry, distributes Bestheim's wine in the Philippines; so I let him know that I traveled thousands of miles just to drink a wine he sells in Manila.

Chocolate Cake for Joaqi's dessert.

Mauro chose a bowl of Assorted Ice Cream Scoops for his dessert. How anyone could eat ice cream in the freezing cold is totally beyond me. Catha, Joaqi & I were too full to have any dessert; so I just had a double espresso.

Catha & Mau then checked out an art exhibit here...
...while Joaqi checked out the goats in a pen outside...
...kept me company with Renzo as I smoked on a street corner...
...and clowned around outside making fun of other tourists.
When Catha and Mauro were done, we piled back in the car and headed for our next (nearby, just around 5 kms. away) destination...

~ oOo ~


Eguisheim is a beautiful, tiny town known for wine, gastronomy, and flowers. Indeed, it was Maison Léon Beyer's wines that I used to regularly purchase at Bacchus Int'l. that led me to Eguisheim to meet Marc and Léon Beyer back in early October 2007.

In addition, it is known as the birthplace of Bruno d'Eguisheim (21st June 1002) in his father's (Count Hughes IV of Nordgau & Heilwige of Dabo) Equisheim Castle. Bruno d'Eguisheim eventually became Pope Leo IX, and, was eventually canonized in 1087 by Pope Victor III. Pope Leo IX's statue (behind the kids in the immediately above photo) dominates the town plaza.

Joaqi finds another new furry friend.
After a brief tasting and purchasing of wine at Maison Léon Beyer's shop at the plaza (Bacchus Int'l. no longer brings in the top-of-the-line Comte d'Eguisheim bottling that Catha likes, so we got some to bring home), as well as a bit of strolling and shopping for souvenirs, we revisited...

~ oOo ~

...Riquewihr so Catha could complete her shopping of candies, souvenirs, pasalubongs, and whatever else she wanted to get. The boys and I just hung around to help carry things if needs be.

We were all done in under two hours, so headed back to St-Hippolyte where we were to have dinner again at our hotel's fine dining...

~ oOo ~

...Restaurant Aux Ducs de Lorraine.

Rolled Blin w/ Salmon Amuse Bouche
My entrée of Escargots à l'alsacienne.
Everyone else was still overly stuffed from lunch so nobody else had a first course. Instead...

...Catha had the Duck Terrine as her main course,...
...and Joaqi had the Duck Foie Gras Maison for his main course.
Mauro had the Filet de Sandre (a real main course) for his main course.

My and Lorenzo's main course was the Pappillote de Bar. For the fish main courses, I had ordered a bottle of 2011 Joseph Mellot Pouilly-Fumé Le Troncsec - a producer I "discovered" and liked a lot  during a tipsy late dinner at Au Pied de Cochon in Paris several years back. This was as easily and readily pleasing as the same producer's 2006 Sancerre "La Gravelière" that I remember so fondly* - pleasant florality, just enough ripeness to the gooseberry, guava, citrus fruit, bright and healthy acidity, and proper palate presence. Catha is not fond of sauvignon blanc wines in general, but she really liked this one - as did I.

* Sancerre and Pouilly-fumé are AOC neighbors just across the river from each other in the eastern Loire; both known for their sauvignon-based whites. I myself do not know how to tell them apart when tasting/drinking blind.

Desserts: a Mini Kugelhopf for Mauro...

...and, for Renzo, Joaqi, and I, an order each of the excellent Profiteroles we had there the night before last (Catha skipped dessert). Coffee and double espressos brought an end to a wonderful day.