Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Germany: Sunday Picnic Along the Moselle - 3 Quick and Easy Salads

     The weather was perfect this past weekend; brilliant sunshine and warm temperatures.  We had spent most of Saturday indoors cheering on Dear Daughter at the second of this season's swim meets.  We knew that on Sunday, we wanted to spend the day outside.  While we wake up early each  weekday, the sun is no longer peering through our windows.  It is a sure sign that the days are getting shorter and soon it will be dark... and cold... and rainy or snowy.   So for now, we grab the sunshine and warmth while we can.

     Keeping our drive time to less than ninety minutes, we realized that we had yet to explore another one of Germany's wine regions, the Moselle.  The Mosel River runs through Germany, Luxembourg and France and its wines are some of the best in all of Germany.  We decided to explore Bernkastel-Kues, which is one of the more touristy towns along the river.  It is also one of the prettiest.  Nestled along the river, the small town's cobblestoned streets, pointed houses and historic squares jut up against hillsides filled with vineyards.  It is quite picturesque and therefore, packed with tourists who arrive by car, by bike or by one of the popular riverboats.

     The drive only takes an hour and we quickly find parking and begin exploring.  Frankly, we were unprepared for the amount of people who shared our idea of spending the day outside.  The town was teeming with tourists; the outdoor cafes packed with couples drinking local wine.  However, walking through town, we realized how quaint and pretty is was and it would be a nice place to visit - perhaps in the evening when the boat tours have departed.

     Wanting to try some wine, we cross the bridge to the other side of the river and a much quieter side of town.  Walking along the river, we stop at the garden of a large home.  It turns out to be the tasting area for a local winery.  In the small garden area, several tables and chairs have been placed and the wine card shows about 20 different wines for tasting or purchase.  The prices are all quite reasonable, about 3 Euros for a 1/4 liter krug of wine.  We settle on two different Rieslings, Dear Husband's favorite grape plus a mixture of grape juice and sparkling water for Dear Daughter.

     Wine sampled, we realized that our stomachs were growling.  Not wanting to head back into the heart of the town, we found a nice picnic spot on the banks of the river.  As you may know, I am a fanatic about picnics.  In fact, my birthday present this year was a new picnic backpack and it is totally cool!  That morning, in anticipation of the weather , I had thrown some fresh ingredients into the bag along with drinks.  It looked like my Girl Scout preparation was going to come in handy.

     I really love picnics.  I like the communal aspect of the meal; the pace seems so much slower and enjoyable.  For today's meal, I had planned three simple salads to put together on-the-spot; Tomato and Mozzarella; Prosciutto and Melon and Serrano with Arugula, Parmesan and Balsamic Glaze.  Very simple, very communal and just right.  Served with a local Riesling and it was another  perfect Sunday afternoon!
The view from our picnic spot
Three Picnic Salads

I think that everyone knows how to put together Tomato and Mozzarella Salad and Prosciutto with Melon, right?

I cut up the melon before leaving the house and put into a plastic container.  Just prior to leaving, I gathered two tomatoes, two packages of buffalo mozzarella, a couple of sprigs basil and a package of prosciutto.  For the picnic, I sliced the tomatoes and placed on plate alternating with slices of mozzarella.  Here in Germany, I can purchase Tomato Mozzarella Seasoning, which is salt mixed with various herbs.  It is delish...so that went on top as well as the basil.  On a second plater, I scattered torn pieces of prosciutto over the tops of the melon slices.

I love Serrano with Arugula, Parmesan and Balsamic Glaze.  I first had this combination as an appetizer; however, Speck (the German version) is normally used here instead of Serrano.  For this salad, I placed thin slices of Speck on a platter.  Then I covered them with Arugula leaves and shaved Parmesan.  Finally, I drizzled Balsamic Glaze over the top and Voila...it was fabulous.

By the way, if you have not had Balsamic Glaze, run to Whole Foods and find it.  It is fantastic and we use it all the time.  It is basically balsamic vinegar that has been reduced to a thick syrup or glaze.  We drizzle it on all three salads and commonly put in on pizza as well.

1 comment:

  1. Too bad, no yummy pictures.
    Hilde M.