Sunday, November 18, 2018

Berrnkastel and Cochem, Germany

Bernkastel, a town in the Mosel Valley founded by the Romans in 70AD. it became apart of the Holy Roman Empire starting in the 900's and then changed hands to France in the 1790's and 20 years later, Bernkastel became part of Germany during the unification in 1871.  
At each town we stop at a local guide or the tour director gives us a walking tour of the city to highlight major points of interest. What a charming medieval village Bernkastel is with brightly colored buildings, cafes and shops.
Since there are no lifts(elevators) in buildings they use a simple pulley system of putting goods in some type of basket and raising it up to their window to unload their goods. 
One of the major points of interest is the Kastel.

Not to be outdone by husband I trekked straight up a mile (more slowly than him) for these stunning views of the town below and the Mosel River.   

This region is Mosel wine area. The climate is perfect for wine making with 70% of the grapes used to produce Riesling. We made a stop to an underground wine cellar for wine tasting. I did think it was rather amusing when we were told some of their wine is shipped USA to Costco. Just didn't sound too romantic. . 
The talk was given by the wine queen. It's an honor to be elected the wine queen for 2018 and her picture is displayed in town square.  

FYI; The Moselle Wine Queen is a young woman who is elected for a period of a year to represent the Moselle wine region. The  first one was chosen in 1949. 
Of course a stop at a local cafe was a must for a cappuccino and a Viennese Sacher Torte. 
Cochem, Germany
A town in the Mosel region known for its vineyards and wines most notably Rieslings, The town was pretty quiet since it was Sunday and most places are closed. We were able to visit  the Reichsburg Cochem Imperial Palace built 100 years ago and stands 300 feet above the village. It was destroyed by the French in 1689 and rebuilt in 1860's. 

Cochem is known also for their mustard mill. Inside they have sample of many types of mustard. Who knew there could be so many kinds. 

Setting sail on a new ship River Rhapsody from Cochem to Bonn where the Mosel  meets up with the Rhine. We are told  the water levels are better from now on in this section.  But these past few months cargo ships  have been able to carry half their load or less on the rivers now which is having a huge impact on Germany economy. . 

It was a rather chilly day at 38 degree so not too many braved sitting outside on upper deck as we cruised by the scenic villages and steep vineyards on the hill. 
Bonn, Germany

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Trier, Germany

Trier is a southwestern German city in the Mosel wine region, near the Luxembourg border. Founded by the Romans, it contains several well-preserved Roman structures like the Porta Nigra gate,

the ruins of Roman baths, an amphitheater just outside the center and a stone bridge over the Moselle River. The Archaeological Museum displays Roman artifacts. Among Trier’s many Catholic churches is Trier Cathedral.

While all the sights of walking tour were interesting it was the buzz about the Roman dessert served with lunch that caught our attention. It was a custard like flan made with eggs, milk, pear puree  topped off a sprinkle of black pepper. I was surprised Romans had milk and eggs available to create this Pear Patina. 

FYI The Romans referred to their dessert course as mensa secunda, or "second meal." They satisfied their fondness for sweets with desserts such as fruitcakes, pudding, sweet egg-based dishes, and sweet cheeses—and in this case, a delicious pear patina.
But just in case looking for something more ordinary check out this recipe below from Pillsbury. 
A kid friendly and clever food presentation from Pillsbury for your Turkey Brunch

Sailing the Mosel River on a new ship Rhapsody picking it up in Bernkastel, Germany

Friday, November 16, 2018



  • Luxembourg is the second richest country in the world – ranked by its GDP (gross domestic product) per capita of USD 92,049 (2014)
  • Luxembourg has the highest minimum wage in the EU – paying workers a minimum of EUR 1,923 per month.
  • Luxembourg is one of the safest countries in the world. According to a UN survey, you have less chance of being shot in Luxembourg than in any other country in the world. .
  • Nearly half of Luxembourg’s workforce commutes to work in Luxembourg from another country. Most non-Luxembourg nationals travelling across the border are French (78,500 workers), Belgians (39,400 workers) and Germans (39,100 workers).
  • Luxembourg is the only Grand Duchy in the world. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the Congress of Vienna made Luxembourg into a Grand Duchy, a state or territory ruled by a grand duke or duchess. The country’s full name is the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The present Grand Duke is Crown Prince Henri who assumed the throne in October 2000.
  • Luxembourg is named after a Saxon fortress. Luxembourg was founded in 963AD as the County of Luxembourg by Sigefroid, Count of the Ardennes.
  • Just under half of the permanent residents in Luxembourg are foreign – with around 170 different nationalities living in the country. Portuguese make up the biggest group at 16.4 percent. Additionally, just over 60 percent of the population of Luxembourg have an immigrant background according to the Duchy of Luxembourg’s Statistics Portal.
  • Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world. It has an area of around 2,586 square kilometres (999 square miles), about the same size as the county of Dorset in the UK and slightly smaller than Rhode Island in the US.
  • Luxembourg is the least populated of all the EU countries. It has a population of just over half a million people (563,000 in 2015), and is the 20th smallest of the world’s 194 independent countries.
  • Luxembourgers are typically tri-lingual. The national language of Luxembourg is Lëtzebeurgesch or Luxembourgish (a Franconian dialect of High German). Children are taught in Luxembourgish in nursery schools; then also in French and German at primary school, plus English at secondary level. In the workplace, in the media and in everyday life, Luxembourgish, German, English, French and Portuguese are commonly spoken. 
  • Luxembourg has the highest rate of car ownership in the world – with 647 cars per 1,000 population. Volkswagon was the top selling brand in 2014.
  • Luxembourg is one of the world’s major financial and business centres, and a tax haven – it's home to the European Investment Bank and more than 150 others. 
  • Luxembourg is a secular country but about 87 percent of the population are Roman Catholic. The remainder are Protestant (mainly Lutherans), Jews and Muslims.
apology for length it's all so interesting
Since I had no prior knowledge of the country I found these facts fascinating. We had a city walking tour by a local person with another fantastic lunch at a local restaurant. 
Every town we have visited were busy setting up for their Christmas market. It's a huge deal everywhere.
City side street 
Decorative Doorway
Quiche Lorraine
The most interesting part of the day was a drive to Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. The American Battle Monuments Commission is an agency that operates and maintains 25 American cemeteries and 29 memorials, monuments, and markers in 16 countries, The commission established this site December 29, 1944. 

We arrived late in the day and the fog was quite dense so not the best day for photos.  General George Patton is buried here.
 The graves contain the remains of 5, 076 American military dead including one female army nurse, who lost their lives in the service of their country. It is interesting to note that all  graves are made of Italian marble. 

Front and back side of the Memorial Tablet which lists the names of 371 Missing in Action. The remains of these soldiers and airmen wee never recovered or rest in unknown graves. After touring the grounds a short memorial service was held to honor those vets in our tour group who had given their service to the military. It was a nice tribute and moving memorial service. 
My husband is one of the five men in the group-far right.   
Trier, Germany
the oldest city in Germany founded by the Romans. 

Black Forest Desserts

When in the Black Forest of Germany one must have some Black Forest Cake.  
Black Forest Trifle
Cook's notes: Black Forest gâteau and Black Forest cake are the English names for the German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte literally means "Black Forest cherry torte", where it originated.
Typically, Black Forest Cake consists of several layers of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. Then the cake is decorated with additional whipped cream, cherries and chocolate shavings. In some European traditions sour cherries are used both between the layers and for decorating the top. Traditionally, kirsch is added to the cherries. True Black Forest Cakes are decorated with black cherries.

Several Black Forest Dessert options are posted below.
  • 1 chocolate cake mix (18.25 oz box)
  • 2- cans Dark Bing Cherries, pitted in heavy juice
  • Fresh orange juice, as needed
  • 1 cup + 2 TB. sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons Chambord or Kirsch
  • 4 oz. Chocolate mousse mix (commercially prepared) found in baking aisle
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract, pure
  • 1 oz. shaved chocolate 
  • Bake cake according to package instructions. Cool. Cut 6 by 8 into 1 1/2" squares.
  • Drain cherries and reserve juice. Add enough orange juice to cherry juice to equal 1- 3/4 cups.
  • Heat juice and add 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a light boil. Reserve 2 TB. sugar for whipped cream.
  • Blend cornstarch with water. Add to boiling juice. Blend with a whisk to thicken.
  • Add cherries and cook for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature and add Chambord. Chill. 
  • Whip mousse mix with cold milk and refrigerate to thicken slightly. Mix well with a whisk.
  • Whip heavy cream on medium speed. Add remaining 2 TB. sugar and vanilla extract and whip until cream forms soft peaks.
  • Assemble torte in an 8" round, 5" deep glass trifle bowl or make individual servings .
  • Line the bottom of the bowl with 1 layer of chocolate cake cubes. Fit cake cubes tightly against sides of bowl. (This should take approx. half of the cake.)
  • Spread a layer of the cherries and sauce over the cake cubes, making sure they're visible against the side of the bowl. Then add a layer of mousse. Repeat the layers of cake, cherries, and mousse. Reserve 5 to 9 cherries for garnish.
  • Spread a layer of whipped cream over the top and garnish with the remaining cherries, Grate chocolate over the top.

Black Forest Ice Cream Pie 
Cook's Notes:This ice cream pie is quite versatile. Some options include: a graham cracker or cookie crust, vanilla or cherry chunk ice cream, using reduced fat, low fat or sugar free products and canned cherry pie filling or a homemade cherry sauce. The recipe comes from Midwest Living and I have included my adaptations.

  • 1 package of regular Oreo cookies ( you will need 2 rows 24 cookies, finely crushed crumbs ) and 3 TB melted butter or 2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs with 1/3 cup melted butter, 1 tsp. cinnamon and 2 TB. sugar
  • 1 pint vanilla or cherry chunk ice cream
  • 1 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 6 oz. Cool Whip thawed or 1-1/2 cups heavy cream whipped
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-21.oz. can cherry pie filing, chilled or make a homemade cherry sauce (recipe below)
  • Hot fudge ice cream topping or chocolate flavored syrup
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Use a food processor to make graham cracker or cookie crumb crust, add melted butter and mix well. Pat the crumb mixture in a glass pie pan. Bake 8 minutes. Cool and set aside. 
  • Soften ice cream and spoon over cooled crust. Freeze covered 3 hours or until firm.
  • In a mixing bowl beat confectioners sugar, cream cheese and Cool Whip or heavy cream whipped.
  • Spread evenly over ice cream and return to freezer. Freeze overnight covered with foil. 
  • To serve spoon cherry pie filling over pie slice and drizzle with fudge topping.
Homemade Cherry Sauce (better than canned) 

  • 1 can Dark Sweet Cherries, pitted
  • 2 TB. cornstarch
  • 2 TB. cherry preserves
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract 
  • 1 TB. cherry brandy
  • Reserved cherry juice
  • Drain cherries set aside. In a saucepan add reserved cherry juice, cornstarch, cherry preserves and extract. Whisk to blend well. 
  • Cook on low heat until mixture starts to thicken. Add drained cherries to the saucepan and cook 2 minutes more. Add a tablespoon cherry brandy, mix and cool. Refrigerate sauce in a covered container until serving.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Baden-Baden Germany

Bill Clinton on a recent visit to Baden-Baden said "It got its name because the town was so nice it had to be said twice." This may be the most opulent stop of the tour. Pricey shops, manicured lawns and fine dining could be found everywhere. 
Mineral Bath House for Women
Baden-Baden is a spa resort town that also boasts the most opulent casino imaginable. We had a morning tour since the casino does not open until 2:00 PM. Actress Marlene Dietrich once called it the world's most beautiful casino, and though its glory days are long gone the beauty still remains. Baden-Baden's ornate Kurhaus (casino), designed 190 years ago, still oozes style and grace. It's the oldest casino in Europe and the only casino during World War II that Hitler allowed to remain open. 

Hidden in a wooded valley on the edge of the Black Forest, Baden-Baden town was founded by the Romans as a health farm, somewhere for soldiers and citizens to unwind. They built a bathhouse here – you can still see the foundations – and although these fine buildings fell into ruins, the hot springs that fed them are still bubbling away. By the 19th century these mineral baths, rich in calcium and magnesium, had become a fashionable cure-all. And what better way to round off a treatment than with a game of chance. With the plush carpeting, and ornate furnishings with sparkling chandeliers 
it's like being in a palace rather than in a casino. The stakes must be high playing in  this swanky establishment.  

Outside was just as beautiful with a promenade called Lichtentaler Allee.  This alley starts in downtown Baden-Baden and goes along a path by small river. It leads to the Lichtental monastery a few miles away. The path runs through a picturesque park with old trees, famous hotels, old villas and palaces. 

We were treated to a delicious lunch capped off by this scrumptious dessert. 
All this wonderful food has forced me to rethink three meals a day by skipping one and  upping my exercise. 
The city of Luxembourg is in the country of Luxembourg.  Since 2 days here is an unscheduled trip being off the ship to catch another boat, arrangements have been made for all 124 of us to stay at a 5 star Sofitel Hotel. What a deal!!