In Presentation on May 10, 2013 at 8:44 am
How exquisite to race along the country roads of Franconia in Spring, the sky finally clear after a dreadfully long winter, the curving, sinking fields around us dappled with wildflower. We have some sublime music on and it exhilarates – a perfect match for the serene scenery, this central European tableau of farmhouse, mill and die wälder, the abundant patches of old forest that characterise northern Bavaria. We ride the melodies through dorf and altstadt, through the rock formations of Fränkische Schweiz, the territory between Bamberg and Bayreuth they call their little Switzerland – pretty towns, dark-beamed buildings as only the Germans can build them and at almost every junction of the roads a little brewery and biergarten.
We stop in at a favourite, Kathi Bräu, for some quark and onion on heavy brown bread, then set off again along the winding rivers that snake their way from Schloss to Schloss, the imposing castles that number even more here than they do in Andalusia. Our eyes and ears are joined in pleasure as the ensemble, a quintet, race through their bright, 1979 recording of self-penned pieces. The title of the collection, “Highway To Hell”, belies the uplifting nature of the Australian musicians’ performance.
A few days later, we’re without any soundtrack at all, not even a breeze to rustle up the leaves as we walk through forest near the little town of Kulmbach. It’s the kind of country we don’t have in Ireland – there isn’t enough space between things there to fit in places like this, More
In Presentation, Production on October 3, 2012 at 9:23 am
This makes a change.
I’m sitting in front of a half litre of dark beer, brewed just a few feet away, bubbly and flavourful. Tucked into an alcove at a wooden bench, I’ve found a space for myself. It’s a beautiful room, actually – low ceilinged on the ground floor of an impressively proportioned brewery building. The wooden beams overhead are supported by heavy iron pillars in an industrial but elegant style – I’d call it Victorian but I can’t imagine they call it that here, in this elegant little town in a quiet corner of north east Bavaria, famous for its numerous beers, on this crisply cool, dark Autumn evening.
Yes, it certainly makes a change. On the other side of the room some kind of team gathering (an all-male line up along a long bench and all wearing the same blue polo shirt) provide a robust soundtrack, but their noisy hubbub – from yodeling (I shit you not) to beer songs – blends easily with the hum of the other patrons’ chat.
K has told me to get lost. Her oldest friend is getting married in the morning and they’re having a quiet little hen night, just three of them. She has decided I’m to be left to my own devices in her beautiful hometown with a pocketful of cash. More
In Practice, Production on December 8, 2011 at 9:50 am
Two bottles of St Georgen’s Bräu to start the season. A gift from friends who are visiting from Germany and who know my tastes. The beer was a discovery for me on a previous visit to Bavaria – Franconia to be more precise – and as well as evoking memories of Gasthof Schiller and juicy schäufele is probably, despite another brewery’s having nabbed the slogan, the best lager in the world.
Visitors, guests. We have them, we are them. The Schiller guesthouse in Wernsdorf where I first tasted St Georgen’s Bräu has been there in one form or another since 1348, but apparently only run as the guesthouse it is now since 1715. Still, they seem to be settling in. The biergarten there on a summer evening, a stein of beer on the wooden table, its surface dappled by spear tips of golden sunlight that pierce the leafed shade. A bone of slow roast pork next to it. The best hospitality makes you feel at home even when you know you aren’t, even when everything is new.
I don’t know how Georg Modscheidler did it, but sometime around 1624 he discovered how to brew my favourite beer. You always wonder, don’t you, about the sequence of events and decisions that lead to a great discovery. Read the rest of this entry »
In Practice, Production on December 27, 2010 at 2:34 pm
K and her mother busy themselves with it by the Christmas tree. A thousand pieces; not the largest you have heard of I’m sure but when the image is Gustav Klimt‘s “Mrs Adele Bloch-Bauer” the challenge is considerable.
It can be difficult fitting all the pieces of a picture together when it is so complex. We are not long in and are warming ourselves after an expedition to a nearby hill for some sledding. Standing at the top at dusk and watching three or four families race down the slope and drag their sleds back up – windows twinkling in the distance as lights and fires are lit – I am reminded of the simpler jigsaws I would receive at Christmas when I was a child. More