German vintner's luncheon

A couple of years ago I had a chance to help with the grape harvest on the Kaiserstuhl, in southern Germany. We capped a morning of serious hustle along rows of vines with a vintner’s lunch, served on a portable trestle table in the midst of hilly vineyards. The sturdy fare, mostly cheeses that ranged from mild and nutty to veined and tangy, provided a welcome respite from snipping grape clusters and grape buckets.

Last week, in Alsace, on the other side of the Rhine, I was hungry for cheese after two months away from Europe’s dairy wonderland. This harvest season, I was after stinky cheese, the more pungent the better.

I found it just outside the medieval gate in Turckheim, in the form of a tarte flambé topped with ripe cheese from the nearby village of Munster.

The tarte came to the table as it should, on a wooden board. Brick-red circles of rind framed cheese, melted chocolate-like into sticky splendor. Atop a thin crust spread with cream, onions and bits of bacon, the Munster cheese provided heft, and wafted a gooey promise kept with every bite.

Later, at L’Epicerie in Equisheim, I bought a round of Petit Munster Gerome that perfumed my car all the way home. Double-bagged and Zip-locked, the cheese still managed to assert its presence in the refrigerator until it was time for my own vintner’s lunch a couple of days later. I consumed this one indoors, sheltered against a rainy day. Thankful to be inside, I could picture the harvest workers of Alsace doing double duty in the rain, pushing to get the grapes in as the weather turned.

In a country that celebrates its cheeses, Munster-Gerome (AOC) is the local standout for Alsace and neighboring Lorraine. A ripe Munster smells very strong; locally it is often eaten with cumin or potatoes boiled in their skins. At least two Alsation wines pair well with the stinky stuff: try a Gewürztraminer or Pino Gris d’Alsace.

*  *  *

This post is part of Wanderfood Wednesday, of Wanderlust and Lipstick.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

you MUST enable javascript to be able to comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.