Sunday 5th May
Sunday I was up early as „they“ had said it was going to be a warm day, I went downstairs carrying my fishing gear, binos and camera, my neighbour was just returning from his early morning bike ride(he is a tri-athlete) and held the door open for me saying “my your up early”, I replied” but not as early as some”, he laughed saying “there are no silly car drivers about at this time in the morning”, I grinned, saying “I am just about to change that”.
So it was straight to the trout lakes at Hövelhof, I paid for my ticket for half a day €15,50 (you can catch up to 25 for this, so it works out very reasonable if feeding a large family). I caught myself three nice rainbows at about 400-500g each, all in less than an hour. That was enough for me.
So I packed up my fishing tackle and drove to the Steinhorster Becken Nature reserve, this is an old clay workings that have been allowed to be flooded by the river Ems (this has been done to stop the flooding of some of the towns further down the river, during times of heavy rain the water level is controlled by closing the sluice gates and allowing the water level to rise on the flood plains.There was a lot of wetland and meadow flowers in bloom. The dyke grass is kept trimmed by the sheep, who in turn provide the fertiliser for the vegetation.
The willows, (termed Kopfweiden because of their heads) are a nice sight and will be harvested later in the year, at one time this would have been used for basket making and building material, but now-a-days mainly for fencing.
The wet lands have in the last 25 years become a resting place for migrating birds on their way up North or down South, but it is also a wonderful habitat to see rare (and not so rare) non-migratory birds from Northern and Central Europe. The nature reserve covers an area of 83 ha with a water area of 35 ha, this is made up of the river ems and various basins, brooks and streams.
The geese (Egyptian, Canadian and Grey-lagged) that had been grazing on the farmers pastures, decided that it was time to take to the air and head for the water
The sky was full of song; I heard a nightingale but was unable to catch sight of it. The songs of the whitethroat,
chaffinch, pipits , the raucous croak of the cock pheasant from the woods, this as well as the honking of geese as they returned to the water after grazing on the neighbouring grassland, which the shared with the cows and horses. I walked the 5 km around the nature reserve climbing into the two high viewing hides underway to get a very good look over the area. These give a fantastic view across the whole of the Biotope.
No one (with the exception of the wardens) is allowed into the area, all must be observed from the Dyke crown which also carries the ramble and cycle paths.
I completed the circuit and then decided to have a spot of breakfast, just past the weir is a very nice café, Brinkmeier, as it was such a fantastic morning I decided to have breakfast al fresco, it was a buffet style and was well worth the €11,50.
Coffee or tea with refills if you wished, orange and apple juice, hot sausages, black pudding, bacon, fried potatoes, scrambled and boiled eggs , cold cuts, Wurst of all sorts, salads, desserts, fruits. I didn’t need to eat again until evening.
Breakfast finished (it was by now 11:00) I decided to take a roundabout route home, visiting my local Asparagus Hof (I’m going to miss this) and got myself a kilo of the grade A and 1.5kg of Cypriot new potatoes. Then popped into my local for a water and a chat with some of the lads. Then headed home and filled a few more boxes with books.Trout En Papilotte
The trout were done quite simply for my evening meal, with herb butter and a bay leaf in the cavity, a bit of wild garlic pesto, some dried rosemary and oregano, a few slices of lemon a squeeze of juice of the lemon and a splash of olive oil and some of my last remaining Camargue Fleur de Sel (Holidays 2010).
Wrapped up in foil and cooked in the oven for 15 minutes at 180°C (they are ready when the dorsal fin comes out without any force).
In the meantime the potatoes and asparagus were ready, both quite simply eaten with melted butter and the fish with the sauce that had formed in the foil parcel. Delectable, what a fantastic day!
Another visit to the „Herrenhaus“ Stockelsdorf.
We had been working very hard over the past few weeks, what with packing , lugging cartons up and down stairs, painting and decorating, dismantling and rebuilding furniture, I thought we deserved a bit of a treat so before setting off from Rheda on Friday I booked us into the Herrenhaus, I was originally wanting to book for lunch, but as luck would have it, someone had booked the whole restaurant for the lunch time, but the Lady on the telephone suggested the evening, so that was it, booked.
I had said as luck would have it, this was because it then left us the whole weekend without breaking wind (should one say that?) to get the flat in some semblance of order.We decided that we would walk there (it is less than 1km) and the walk takes you through the smashing park, that once belonged to the owner of the residence, but now is open to all and is looked after by the local council. It was a very nice sunny warm evening , with the sun breaking through the trees lighting up the carpets of woodland flowers, the small lake had a few ducks gadding about, mating, looking for mates or being just plain raucous.
We had booked for 18:30 and being a bit before time decided to have a look down into the Vaulted Cellar bar, now this is the place to book for a party, it is full of Character and is tastefully decorated with subtle lighting. As I said the last time this could become my local.
We then went up to the entrance hall, this can be and is used for receptions, buffets and gatherings before concerts etc. it has glass cases full with pottery and busts on pedestals.
We were greeted by a very nice Herr (this turned out to be the restaurant owner), he asked if we had booked, affirmative and name given and then showed us to our tables. All nice and civil just as it should be.
I believe I explained a bit about the house in my last review, but just to recap; it was the country residence of a wealthy manufacturer of earthenware pottery. Each room is tastefully decorated and the history of the building shines through in the ambience, with what decorations showing the history of the building.
Now seated, the waiter (Herr Lakins the owner who was to be our waiter and host throughout the evening) asked if we would like an appetitive, while we browsed the menu, this we had, Linda a very nice prosecco and I an apperol with sparkling wine.
While perusing the menu Patrick (we were now on first name terms) appeared with a basket of fresh, still warm rolls and some herb cream cheese. It is these type of extras that make the difference between a good and a very good restaurant.
We had selected our meal, we had plumbed for the selection of starters for two and I the lamb and Pan fried Zander was Linda’s choice for the mains. The wine list was asked for and duely brought, this was very comprehensive and had a selection to suit every taste, occasion and dare I say it every pocket.
We selected a Grauburgunder; I would have normally had a red with my lamb, but thought that as Linda was having Fish and the “Vorspeiße platter” also had quite a bit of fish and salads, we would choose something light and white.Meal ordered, Patrick arrived with another amuse gaule on the house, a very nice gesture. This was a house cured salmon (gravedlax art) with a honey, mustard, glaze sitting on a potato rosti, very tasty.
Patrick came to our table and we had a good bit of a chin wag, he told us that he had a Grandmother that came from Reading and that he was often there in his childhood, his father was Canadian and he had travelled extensively in Canada. We chatted moving easily from German into English and I am sure at times speaking Ger-glish. We told him a little about us and our move and that as foodies were so happy that we had a very good restaurant on our doorstep.
The Starter variation for two (Vorspeißvariationen)This was a very wise selection; it showed the depth of food that was being served from the kitchen, it is a changing selection of the entrees being served, a tasting menu!
It consisted of:
A seasonal cream of asparagus soup served in expresso cups
Coqilles St Jacque’s (scallops) with a very subtle lemon sauce
Fresh young (as they are supposed to be) mild cured matjes
A tranche of Hot smoked salmon topped with the same honey, mustard, dill sauce from before.
Rose roast beef filet with a fruity sauce on a bed of shredded lettuce
To this was added some antipasti of grilled mushrooms and olives.
We started with the wonderful cream of asparagus soup, a fantastic deep creamy texture, earthy, thick and rich. I must say that it was all truly delicious
Next was the Matjes, Linda never being a Matjes fan, has become a convert, these Matjes were mild and soft, not a bone in sight (though I will have to tell her that not all Matjes are so subtle).
The Lamb ham was wonderful, very mild and the sweetness of the melon was a nice foil to the light smokiness of the “schinken”.
The Scallops, well what can one say about scallops, you can cook them correctly or murder them, these had been cooked to perfection, crisp and golden outer with the soft succulent flesh inner, ecstasy pure ecstasy.
The hot smoked salmona, this speciality of the Baltic coast, was smoked to perfection, with a golden crust but still translucent and moist inside, this shows the sign of a real smoke profi, a meister.The whole platter was not only tasty but was nicely presented and we both enjoyed it immensely.
Linda’s Zander filet on a bed of spinach with browned potatoes and herb butter
Linda had selected the above as she fancied something a little lighter, the zander (pike-perch) came beautifully browned on the skin side, sitting on a bed of fresh wilted spinach, and accompanied with some nicely browned potatoes, these are boiled potatoes, cut into wedges and then fried until they just take on a light brown colour (I had, had these with my meal the last time we visited) and are very tasty indeed.
Linda really enjoyed her fish crisp outside and just translucent flakes inside, perfectly cooked as the French would say “a la point”. She said the spinach was well rounded with onions running through it.
My Braised Leg of Lamb
My Lamb, well it was a very pleasant well-cooked lamb, now I am normally a pink, very pink man), but if lamb of Hogget is to be braised then it should be, as was in this case, meltingly soft, not falling apart, but still able to be carved into thick juicy slices, just as this was.
I certainly enjoyed this and all the more as it was accompanied by a very nice gratiniert potato cake, and green French beans sauteed with diced schallots, the beans still crisp and a la dent. The whole was served with very deep sauce, that tasted of Rosemary, I think if that a sauce is going to be served with lamb, then it is to be (to the horror of the rest of Europe) a nice mint sauce, a fruity red current jelly or as in this case a meaty sauce with a definite taste of Rosemary, perfect, just perfect.
The potato gratin cake was well browned, luxurious, creamy and well-seasoned.
We drank the crisp, fruity Grauburgunder, Patrick served the wine and the water from a separate table, this allowed the table to remain uncluttered (how often do mishaps happen because of that wine bottle or water carafe being accidently knocked). It also gave us a chance to have a chat with him as he came to replenish our glasses (he never lost sight of the wine level).Patrick was the perfect host, always attentive but not overbearing, willing to have a conversation when the time allowed, but always keeping an eye on the comings and goings at the kitchen. A very, very enjoyable evening indeed.
The Lamb is a seasonal special menu, this changes every few months, I believe that it is about to change soon, so any lamb lovers better hot foot it there. But even if it is not on the menu, there is bound to be something to suit your taste.
Before leaving we chatted about the coming events in and around the restaurant, there was to be a 1st of May event in the garden in front of the house (decking the May tree, speeches, beer etc.), the German Mother’s day Brunch, a Whitsunday Brunch and various open air concerts and music festivals throughout the summer. We immediately booked for the Whitsunday (Pfings) Brunch, so that is our next visit to the restaurant planned, though I can see us visiting the Gewölbekeller before then.
We had decided to visit the May Day celebrations, that take place on the lawned area to the rear of the Herrenhaus. We arrived at 11:00 after a nice stroll through the park (this is not large, but is very pleasant and I can see me sitting at the edge of the lake doing a bit of bird watching. The woodland flowers carpeting the floor under the trees just trying to burst into leaf.
The mallards had paired up and there was a couple of tufted ducks that had obviously plighted their troths. The trees full of finches, starlings, black birds and of course the billing and cooing of the collared doves.
When we arrived, the music and speeches were in full swing, a mobile stage housed a skiffle group from Timmendorf and arranged alongside was the Stockelsdorf Firebrigade band.
The grass was full with benches and tables, filled with the young, the middle-aged and the old, I do believe that the whole of the town had turned out to welcome in the May under the Maibaum
It was a wonderful warm spring morning and the Herrenhaus catering department was in full swing, bratwurst, pork collar steaks, turkey cutlets, salads.
Also cakes, waffles, ice-creams and coffee abounded, you could have any or all of them (together if you so wished).
For those that care to drink that early in the morning (alas I was driving to NRW later, so not I) was the heady Maibock beer, Maibowle a punch laced with strawberries, woodruff and sparkling wine.
For those that didn’t drink (children and motorists) were alc-free drinks, ah well, next year.
We got to know some of the locals (these events are great for making new acquaintanceships) enjoyed the music and the wonderful surroundings before going home picking up the camper and heading off into the South.