Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Old Gates and Tomatoes from the Garden


When we explored those charming villages and small towns in Alsace (here and here), I noticed the many beautiful old gates. Doors or gates and windows are objects I love to photograph and of course I couldn't resist that urge with all this beauty right in front of me. I chose the ones that I liked the best for this post.

Not a gate, but a door and shutter next to each other was decidedly my favorite. I don't know what it is that I like so much about it. Maybe it was just how everybody walked past it without noticing this beauty.

Some gates were rather small...

... and some were even smaller.

This is my art for this week's TADD over at Rain. Now let's turn to the culinary delights.

I had planted my tomatoes - and other veggies - rather late this year, after we had come back from Germany. Therefore, my harvest started late as well. But now there are fresh tomatoes on the menu.

I made Pasta al Pomodoro. I found the recipe in the NYT Cooking section. It asks for a lot of tomatoes. The dish was good, but when I make it again I will spice it up since it was a bit plain. I think herbs would be wonderful in the sauce as well as more garlic. I served the dish with freshly grated parmiggiano.

If you are a NYT Cooking subscriber, you can find the recipe here. Very often you can't access the recipes without a subscription (it's hit and miss), so I also took a photo of the printed recipe. As you can see, in my kitchen some of the food always lands on the recipe.

Monday, August 29, 2022

T is for Fairy Tale Town


Can you see the stork?

As I told you in my last T post, Alsace has many charming villages and small towns. One of the most popular without any doubt is Riquewihr. Tourists come here for its historical buildings; Riquewihr hasn't changed much since the 16th century. That, of course, is its charme and it is difficult not to be attracted by it.

Since I remembered it as a pretty crowded place, we planned our visit in the morning. We didn't have to look long for a parking spot and then made our way to the old town center.

This is Rue du Général de Gaulle where 90% of the crowds can be found. It leads to the upper town gate behind which are parts of the fortifications.

Since none of us liked the crowds, we explored the little alleys away from the main drag. As soon as we left this busy street we had the cobbled streets with the half-timbered houses almost to ourselves. And as you know, I really love those narrow alleys. They have so much character and don't need to be "proper" for the tourists.

We found another part of the old town wall in a forgotten corner.

Look at these beautiful shutters! It does make you think of gingerbread houses, right? Do you see the swallow nests? This reminds me so much of my childhood, when the swallows would build their nests under the eaves of our appartment building, right above our windows. I'm not sure which swallow I photographed in the second picture, I think it's a barn swallow, but I can be so wrong. David to the rescue, please! (Boy, was I wrong. David just let me know that this is a Common House Martin. Thank you, David!)

We discovered old wells that were merely decorative nowadays, old roof gables and gates that offered us a view into beautiful courtyards.

I loved the many shop- and restaurant signs. Announcing your business with these signs is an old tradition that you also find in Germany and many other European countries.

There were old doors and shutters, a simple and beautiful way to hang street lights and doors that were hiding behind an abundance of roses.

More courtyards...

You really feel like being in a fairy tale when you walk these little streets.

Look at this owl!

Eventually we ended up at the main street again for a last photo with my two favorite people. Without them, this would have been only half the fun.

We left Riquewihr to go on and visit Kaysersberg which has far less tourists than Riquewihr - and has always been my personal favorite. Pictures will follow in a later post, but since we are here gathering for Elizabeth's and Bleubeard's T Tuesday, I want to show you the glass of Riesling I had for a late lunch in Kaysersberg, accompanied by tarte flambée, of course. Cheers - or "Prost" as we say in German - to Elizabeth and Bleubeard!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Misty Morning at the Lake

For Rain's TADD I don't have any art to show - my art today are the photos I took yesterday morning when I walked around the lake. I finally had taken my big camera with me - the last few times I was here I saw so many birds, but couldn't really capture them with my cell phone. I have a good camera in my phone, but it certainly is not THAT good.

It was a misty morning like we have so often here, when the fog from the coast is hanging low. Since temperatures are much lower on those mornings and the moisture in the air is higher, I prefer them to a bright sunny morning (that's something I like in the winter). It is very typical weather for our area.

The sun was just peeking through the fog and the trees.

It is so beautiful when the mist hovers over the lake. I sat on my favorite bench for quite some time, journaling and just enjoying this delightful morning. The birds that I was hoping for, though, kept hiding - as if they knew that I brought my camera! Only the mallards were kind enough to make an appearance in a very safe distance.

Slowly, the fog started to rise. Isn't it beautiful how the water sparkles in the few rays of sunshine?

And then the fog just burned off - the entire process in the following three pictures took less than ten minutes (maybe this fits the "movement" prompt in today's TADD?)

Life on the lake became busier.

Eventually I left the bench and continued my walk. I had given up hope to see any herons this morning - usually there are Black-crowned Night Herons and Green Herons here, who are favorites of mine. But it seems today they weren't in the mood to show themselves.

Instead I first heard and then saw this lovely woodpecker. I always have difficulties identifying woodpeckers; I believe this is a Downy woodpecker, but I'm confident that David will correct me if I'm wrong.

Then I heard the distinctive call of the Red-shouldered Hawk, but I couldn't see it. It kept me company for a few minutes until I suddenly saw him (her?) flying towards and landing in the top of this tree (I'm even worse in identifying trees). But what was that? Right behind it was a second hawk, landing right beside No. 1. I felt like winning the lottery.

I took a million photos until they were tired playing model for me and took off. I felt quite elated when I walked on - what a wonderful sight these birds had been.

There were unmistakable signs of autumn - my favorite season is just around the corner!

There was some rustling in the underbrush - our state bird, the California Quail.

On a shady trail sunlight lit up the pale-yellow flower heads of fennel. I love this kind of light.

And then, when I least counted on it, there it was standing by the side of the lake, waiting for its morning snack - a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron! I love love love these birds.

This was such a wonderful morning. 

So today, I went to the farmers market in the morning. Wednesday and Saturday mornings are our famers market days, with the market on Wednesday being much smaller than the one on Saturday. Even though there are by far fewer vendors, I tend to prefer Wednesdays for the simple reason that there is much more time to talk. I learned so much about the different kinds of garlic, e.g. that you have to use much less of "Red German" than it states in a recipe because it's quite strong - and it is the one I always buy. It has such fantastic flavor.

This time of year is simply the best - the abundance of vegetable and fruit is incredible. Look what I brought home from the farmers market this morning:

Even Kibeau approves!

Unfortunately, the "mushroom guy" wasn't there today. He has the best selection of mushrooms - however, I still mostly buy cremini and shiitake and sometimes chanterelle. Recently I made (crooked) vol-au-vents with my creamy mushroom sauce - looks odd, tastes delicious. A glass of dry rosé from a local winery is a fine companion. Bon appétit.