Monday, October 26, 2009

"Winstub" Gruener Baum in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Picture: Restaurant Gruener Baum in Frankfurt am Main (Neu Isenburg)

This is not a wine bar, but an Alsatian Winstub in Frankfurt am Main, where you can have excellent Alsatian wines and food.

Alsatian wines play a special role in France. They tend to be different from those in the other parts of France. Higher in acidity, sometimes really sour, but always a pleasant experience to have them in the glass. And they go very well with the Alsatian food, which is also unique in France. The famous choucroute you find only there in France. But of course, you find it in Germany, for example in Frankfurt am Main.

As a young adult, when I used to live in Mainz/Germany with my wife and our dog Jo, we would regularly go to Alsace for the afternoon or the week end to shop in France, to indulge into the French food, to taste and buy the wonderful Alsatian wines directly from the winemaker or just to enjoy the small picturesque Alsatian villages and landscape and to speak French. We would follow the enchanting wine route in Alsace that takes you over rolling hills, through charming villages, down narrow cobblestone streets and past half-timbered houses.

We would check into a hotel in Obernai in the late Friday afternoon, for example. Take a walking tour of Obernai to see Mount Sainte-Odile in the distance and the meticulously restored Medieval features of this amazing old town.

In Strasbourg we would walk discover its charming old center, including the Gothic cathedral. Strasbourg's Gothic cathedral is a renowned architectural masterpiece - and one of France's most popular sites. This was the highest building in Christendom until the 19th-century, and today it remains France's second most-visited church - after Notre Dame in Paris. The cathedral's single tower is so famous that the building's asymmetry looks almost normal. It rises to 470 feet and over the centuries has been the target of wind, rain, lightning and enemy bombardment. Strasbourg is also the political capital of Europe as it is the seat of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

One of our favorite towns was Barr, with the Winstub Gilg. We also often enjoyed a visit to Trimbach in Ribeauvillé, one of the major wine producers in the region. The winery Hugel is located in Riquewihr, another wonderful town with fascinating Medieval and Renaissance buildings, including the splendid 14th-century church of Notre Dame.

Going to Colmar, further south, would take a bit longer. Colmar is known as the wine capital of Alsace and for its exceptional art treasures. The Museum of Unterlinden, located in a former convent founded by Dominican nuns in the 13th-century is renowned for the Issenheim Altarpiece, one of the masterpieces of Western art. Matthias Grünewald created this monumental work which has been exhibited in the chapel since the beginning of the 16th-century. Kaysersberg is another very attractive Medieval and Renaissance town offering more treasures of architecture and the distinction of being the birthplace of Nobel Prize winner Albert Schweitzer.

You cannot bring the landscape and the wonderful medieval towns to Frankfurt am Main. But as far as wine, Alsatian food and Alsatian Winstub atmosphere is concerned, Dominique and Guy Mosbach have succeeded in bringing this to Frankfurt. After having run the Bistro 77 in Frankfurt of Main for many years, they took over the Gruener Baum in Neu Isenburg in Frankfurt am Main about six years ago. The Gruener Baum used to be a famous cider brasserie, of which many exist in Frankfurt am Main, but has now become the home for down to earth, good Alsatian food and wine, just 15 minutes away be car for me when I am in Frankfurt.

I had a three-course menu for 26 Euros with escargot, coque au vin and Gewuerztraminer Sorbet. It was excellent. The French would say “correct”. Wonderful French food, nothing fancy, just good and at a good price.

We tried a Pinot Noir from the Mosbach estate, which is now increasingly grown in Alsace. It was was fine, but we thought we should have stayed with the famous Alsatian whites. Paul and Jean Marie run the family wine estate in Marlenheim/Alsace, which is west of Strasbourg.

There is no need to go to Alsace to have Alsatian food and wine and Winstub atmosphere. When the Mosbachs were running the and cooking at the Bistrot 77, they had one star Michelin. I think there kitchen has not changed and they continue to cook at the one star Michelin level.

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