Wine, Esslingen, some amazing views, oh and good friends to

Do you like wine?  Do you like seeing where the wine comes from?  Would you like to walk through hills that have wine carts setup, which let you try said wine, oh and see some amazing views?  If you answered yes to these very important questions, then the Esslingen Wine Walk is for you.

A few weeks ago it was that lovely time again when a bunch of my friends and I trek our way to Esslingen on a Sunday afternoon, and take part in the Weinwandertag Esslingen or in english the Esslingen Wine Walk.  Esslingen is a lovely city right outside of Stuttgart.  People love coming here because its just a nice place.  It has a great river, where you can find a cafe and sit outside and just enjoy yourself.  This is truly my favorite event in the early part of the year.  Why?  Mainly because it lets you walk through the wine vineyards in Esslingen, take some really awesome pictures, and just enjoy being outside.  Not to mention that its pretty much all the hiking I’m ever going to do in the year.  Only problem with this event is the fact its on a Sunday.  Now I understand a little bit why this is the day they do it.  On Sunday nothing is open and you probably want to give the people something to do.  They can’t go shopping, there aren’t any shops open to buy beer, wine, or liquor.  Except for the main train station in Stuttgart, but not everyone lives by there, nor does anyone want to go just for that reason.  The only thing that are open are restaurants, cafes, oh and gelato stands.  Lovely tasty gelato.

So how does this little thing work?  The walk has 6 stands setup, which takes up about 5km, which is about 3 miles.  You start at the first stand, where you buy your sample glass, along with your first glass of wine.  From there you start your hike and wine tasting.  You spend about €3 or so for your glass, then your first glass is about the same price if not a euro less.  Depending on your love of wine, you probably will have a few glasses at the first few stands, then if you are with a group, it becomes cheaper to just pick a wine and buy a bottle from the next stands.  Just make sure you know what you like or are in the mood for.  Though the bottles are from €10 to €15, pretty cheap compared to if you were buying them from a say a restaurant.

This year the weather was OK at points, until the standard German storm came by.  You know sideways rain, hail, and massive winds.  Best part is when you are standing through this, completely pissed with the world, then it stops, the sun comes out, and you continue with your day.  This was my third time doing this event.  The first time the weather was fine, rained or looked to rain at a few random times.  Last year, it was completely to hot.  Drinking wine and walking around had to be the worse idea you could have.  Still we made it through and I had a nice time.  Along with the people who found random spots to just hang out and chill.

Now what do you all think is going to happen after you’ve walked about 3 miles or more and had a good amount of wine, and find yourself at the end of all this fun?  Well, if you guessed more wine, grilled sausages, other pork products, and a band, you’d be right.  Also, not just any band, a concert band, with a German lead singer.  Doing traditional German fest songs.  I really think that its not a choice.  You are pretty much required to have these things.  If you don’t, I think Germans may think the event isn’t a real event.  Especially if it’s an outdoor gig.

DSC_0540All in all, the wine walk is a great time.  Every year I’ve gotten to hang out with different groups of people.  We have a great time.  We see some really cool stuff, and enjoy decent German wine.  I would say if you are ever around the area, then you need to do this event.

Many more excellent things are coming up, can’t wait to share them with you on the next go around.  Enjoy the week ahead!

The Wine Walk experience

Munich, they know how to give you some Christmas markets

Last week started the personal quest to see some of the best Christmas markets, oh and see if I can follow the schedule I made up to.  First on the list was München (Munich).  Like so many of my friends, we love going to Munich.  It is a truly an international city, which as I found out knows how to do some Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas Markets).

Going to check out this market was an idea by John, he mentioned it to me and our friend Anna.  He told us they have a lot scattered through the city, along with a gay one called Pink Christmas.  We were totally excited, I mean its Munich, who doesn’t love Munich, then you mention Christmas markets and a gay one, you know its going to be a good time.

The plan was to leave on Friday, maybe see a few things that night, do up the town Saturday, with a nice brunch Sunday, and finish by seeing some more, then come back in the early evening.  I was ready for this trip, we all talked it up, however I learned a very good lesson.  I need to stop being a slow ass.  I won’t go into the long story about how I missed my train to Munich with John, Mike, Anna, and Adam, but I learned that I need to always always run for a train.  In any case, I did make it to Munich, just not with group.   I had to buy a new ticket, on a slower train, that didn’t have plugs nearby.  By having to take that train, I did also run into the other people I invited on the trip.  Funny thing about running into them, that was the only time I saw them the entire trip.  I still need to find out what happened there.  I know it has to be a good story there.

With all of that done, the markets are the big story in it all.  It was a four man and a lady mission to see the sights and sounds.  Oh and probably eat, drink, and be merry.  Can you say Gluhwein?

The Marienplatz Market

The main market is in the Marienplatz.  This makes sense because this is the main street.  When you come to Munich, everyone has to go here, its almost a rule of thumb.  I’ve been to Munich three times in the last six months, been there every time.  One thing that is always interesting to me are the Christmas trees.  Every market in every city has a big tree.  I mean in our neighborhood, we have a big tree outside of our house.  Here in the Marienplatz you can buy ornaments, candles, clothing, various pottery (pictures below), along with some good food to buy as well.  They actually sell a fruit cake there that’s not your crappy American style.  You know the one, no one ever wants, but you get it for Christmas every year from someone.  We walked through it fairly quickly that day.  It was early in the day, but it was packed for sure.  Even though it wasn’t the best weather at all.  This doesn’t ever matter because Germans will be out for sure.

The Mittelaltermarkt (Medieval market)

Seeing a Medieval market is always a great time.  I love seeing the people in their period outfits.  Apparently Adam has multiple medieval outfits.  I think I’ve seen some pictures that confirm this.  What do you find here?  Well, you can get some pretty solid jewelry, real medieval clothing, do you want some weaponry to truly get medieval on that ass?  You can find it there.  Do you want some pork, then go find a nicely roasted pig on the spit?  Maybe fish is your thing, well, they are smoking various fish.  When I go to these things, I really just want to eat, like everything.  At these things, they sell Met (sounds like mead).  Its a honey wine, if you can stand some whiskey, then get a little of that, probably don’t really need it, the flavor is perfect on its own.  I am completely amazed to see the awesome food fire ovens, I am a bread lover, when I see these things, then see bread, I feel like I’m in heaven.

Pink Christmas

When John told us that Munich had a gay Christmas market, you have to go and see it for the pure intrigue of it.  It’s located in the Glockenbachviertel which is a trendy area in Munich, that is known to some as being the gay district.  It has a lot of shops, restaurants, and bars.  Pink when we first got there wasn’t impressive, but it did pickup for sure.  According to their site, yes they have a website, they do cabaret shows, and a lot of other events.  The night I got there, they just had a DJ.  Now Pink wasn’t the greatest thing in the world.  A friend of mine that went to it later the next week, said it was lame.  I thought it was a cool concept, pink Christmas trees, cool clothes, you can get some awesome items, John got some cool postcards, along with a few lanyards, rainbow colored of course.  Not to mention Anna got some pretty nice earmuffs.  I did meet two cool girls, who came out and hung out with us for the night, the one girl had a really cool boyfriend, who came out later.

I won’t go through all of the other markets.  Even though I only really had two or three more, but real quick we also went and saw the manger scene they have setup by Odeonsplatz, where they also have a Christmas market setup there.  You’ll hit the market first, then see the manger scene.  Now Germans do things really well, but they also odd things.  You’ll see in the video I’ll be putting up.  We also hit the English Gardens on Sunday after having brunch.  The English Gardens is also somewhere you have to go to.  Its nice during the summer, cold in the winter, but the crowd there on a Sunday isn’t surprising since the market was nice.  A lot of different items that I hadn’t seen at the other locations.  Nice little ornaments, interesting clothing for various things, and toys.

In doing the walk through the rest of the garden, I was introduced into just plain wildness.  As you can see below, that is a guy surfing in the rive stream thing they have there.  According to John this is normal.  They do in the winter.  I know I’m not a big swimmer, OK, I can’t swim well at all, but I would never do this.  Its the wintertime, the water is pretty much who knows how cold.

Munich was fun and it always is.  With this weekend down, if you are following my schedule from my last post, then you know what I have coming next.  Its not the warmest time of the year, but when you are living where I am, you know you can always find a good time.

Pictures from the trip

The most organized thing I’ve ever done, my Christmas market schedule

It’s December and do you know what that means? If you don’t, then you don’t live in Europe or Germany for that fact. It’s one of the most interesting times during the winter.  Christmas markets (in German its Weihnachtsmarkthave started.  What is a Christmas market you may ask? They are great reason for you to not go to the mall or any other random place.

The Christmas market allows you to do a lot different things.  First of all you can find gifts for your friends and family, get oraments for your tree, oh and try out some very food and drinks.  Now if you are looking for awesome electronics, then this isn’t your spot.  You will find simple things, like socks, shirts, kitchen stuff, and a lot of other random things.  Last year I bought my dad a pair of socks, along with finding some very cool necklaces, oh a cool ring.  The thing for me was the fact it wasn’t crazy expense.

I know some of you might be thinking, “Isn’t it cold outside?” Yes, in some cases it will be snowing, freezing like hell, and frankly there is no reason to be out.  However, you can find warm drinks and food pretty much everywhere. What’s the best drink to get? Can you say Glühwein (Mulled wine)?  What is this Glühwein I speak of?  Its warmed wine, normally red wine that has sugar, orange peel, and other spices mixed in.  Some people think its to sweet, like a few friends of mine, but when you are freezing outside, its a tasty thing.  You can also get some kinderpunch, hot chocolate, or other warm drinks to.

Now for this years markets I’ve decided to do something way different.  I have come up with the fact I want to see almost 10 markets, OK, probably going to be five to seven, but 10 is a nice round number.  I have two that are very accessible, those being the Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg markets.

This is what makes it the most organized thing I’ve ever done.  I have come up with a spreadsheet, listed the ones I want to see, put down dates and I’m pretty much not flexible, unless there is a very good reason to be.  I went to Munich last weekend, pictures and my tale are coming soon.  I seriously can’t wait to see some of the markets that I’m planning to see.  Check out my schedule below.  This is seriously going to be an awesome December!

My Christmas Market Schedule for December 2012

Esslingen Christmas Market – Friday, 7 December 2012

Ludwigsburg Christmas Market – Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Mannheim Christmas Market – Sunday, 16 December 2012

Munich Christmas Market – Friday, 30 November to Sunday 2 December 2012

Nuremberg Christmas Market – 21 or 22 December to either 22 or 23 December 2012

Strassbourg, France Christmas Market – No Date set yet

Stuttgart Christmas Market – Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tübingen Chocolate Festival – Saturday, 8 December 2012

For more information on Christmas Markets in Germany click here.

A cocktail to start the weekend with

Image

We all have those weeks in which you just want it to end ASAP.  For me that was this week.  Sometimes living in Germany can be the best thing in the world, while other times it can just be a little annoying.  In any case I wanted a cocktail to start my weekend off right.  That’s where I remember a wonderful cocktail I had in Frankfurt back in October at the Luna Bar.  It was a ginger julep.  A few of my friends know my love of ginger, so once I saw this, I was sold.

Now a traditional mint julep, which you would generally find during Kentucky Derby time, will have mint, sugar, and of course bourbon.  However for the one at Luna Bar, they used vodka, mint, ginger, lime juice, and soda.  Funny thing is I didn’t realize this until after I made my own, especially since every recipe I looked for to make mine said bourbon.

You have several different ways to make a ginger julep.  For this time around I made a ginger syrup, which has a great flavor.  Put this together with the mint (which we are growing ourselves) and the at this point crystallized ginger, you get something good for sure.

It turned out to be pretty solid.  It totally helped me through my Friday evening and into my weekend.  I’ll have to try it out with vodka soon though.  I’m sure the flavor profile will be very good.

Ginger Julep

  • 5 sprigs of mint
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 3 pieces of crystallized ginger
  • 1 ounce of ginger syrup, recipe to follow
  • 3 ounces of bourbon, in this case I used Jim Beam
  • Soda water
  • Ice
  • Mint, for garnish
  • Crystallized ginger, for garnish

Combine the mint, lime wedges, and ginger syrup in a tall glass.  With a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon, crush the three ingriedents together until you smell the aroma of the mint, along with it being well broken down.  Add a little ice, then the bourbon, stir together, then add a little more ice, followed by topping it off with the soda water, stir slightly.  Garnish with mint and ginger.

Ginger syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces of ginger, thinly sliced

In a heavy-duty saucepan, combine all the ingredients.  Bring the water to a slight boil, letting the sugar dissolve, then turndown the heat to medium-low.  Let the ginger syrup go for about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and less cool slightly.  Then strain the syrup to a jar putting a lid on it or a squeeze bottle that you can cover.  Keep the ginger since now it is crystallized, which means you can use it for your drinks, or to get as a snack.  Chill the syrup until you are ready to use it.  Syrup should be stored chill and will last you for 2 or 3 weeks.

Yield: 1 drink

The weekend that was

Trying this out

This is a little late, but welcome to a review of my weekends here in Deutschland.  This time there are around are only a few things that I saw either while I was out and about or hanging with friends.

It was a very delightful weekend as always here in Stuttgart.  I got to try out a new a restaurant Ambiente Africa, this was a very interesting place.  Since we didn’t make a reservations, getting a seat wasn’t easy, so we sat in the traditional seating.  This consisted of us sitting on the ground, Indian style or something like that.  This area along with a few other spots were covered by sand.  This was pretty cool.  The food was pretty solid, even though I probably should’ve gotten something else just because I wanted something with more sauce.  In any case though the food was very tasty.  The person I was out with had something that was pretty good as well.

Pictures from the weekend

Just like on any weekend I have around town, a few interesting pictures are taken.  This weekend is no different.

It started Friday night before I went to dinner.  The guy in front of me at the grocery store had on no shoes.  Yes boys and girls, no shoes.  He was buy some wine, along with a chocolate easter bunny.  It was funny that the bunny he bought he actually gave to the cashier.  That was pretty cool.

Saturday the shops in Stuttgart were open until midnight.  Now when places are open like this, you know they are looking for a big night.  This is a very nice market, where you can find some good food at a higher price range.

Finally for the pictures, my mom made a chocolate cake, with a cream cheese icing.  It was very tasty, which got some very good responses.  Gotta love a good cake.  Recipe will follow very soon.

Interesting Music from the day

In the Schoßplatz you are able to find various performers.  This time around was a small group doing Dave Brubeck’s Take Five.  Didn’t sound to bad I don’t think.

Well, another weekend is about to start very soon for me.  The weather is looking nice.  Watch out for some good stuff to happen.  If you see anything cool.  Drop it in the comments.