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Calling from abroad:

+49-9381-9389

Calling from within Germany:

09381-9389

Address:

Schloss Zeilitzheim

Marktplatz 14

97509 Kolitzheim-Zeilitzheim

GERMANY

email:

barockschloss (at) gmail.com

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Sunday
May062012

Spring Work in Our Vineyards

My two colleagues and I used last week's perfect weather to get some work done in our vineyards. We placed so-called nursery cartons (protective sleeves) around the newly planted vines to protect them from wind and cold. It's almost like rearing children (minus the back talk! Just kidding…).

Removing high-growing grass from underneath the budding vines, which would negatively influence the chance of frost damages (there are usually a few days of early-morning frost here in early to mid March), was tough manual labor. But caring for each vine is certainly also a very rewarding enterprise.

Now we are experiencing two days of solid rain. A chance to recuperate from last week's work before we head back out this coming week.

Budding Vines above the Main River in Franconia - Photo Alexander von Halem

Monday
Apr092012

Asparagus: Franconia's "White Gold"

It's asparagus season again here in Franconia! And people get quite crazy about their asparagus (Spargel) in these parts. Other than customary in northern America, where asparagus is usually harvested green, asparagus is traditionally harvested in its white state here. This is achieved by cutting the asparagus root under the earth, which is why the countryside around Zeilitzheim is dotted with strange fields with long rows of mounds of sandy dirt under which this fine (and expensive) vegetable is grown.

Asparagus is such a valuable commodity, that farmers usually sell most of what they harvest directly from their farms or at roadside stands. Be prepared to invest some time and work if you are planning on cooking asparagus yourself, however. You will need at least a pound of asparagus per person.

Preparing and Serving Asparagus

Asparagus will usually already be washed when you buy it, sold by the kilogram (kg). You will usually have to pay between 7 and 9 Euros per kilogram (two metric pounds), depending on the quality (which is determined by thickness). I personally prefer the thinner cat. II asparagus. Other than with green asparagus, you will need to peel the woody, stringy outer part of the asparagus stalks and perhaps cut off a small piece on the end (not the head! That is the most valuable part of the asparagus root). You can tell whether asparagus is fresh by examining the cut end of the root: It should be moist.

You will then need a big pot that will hold the asparagus with ample amounts of water (add a little salt and sugar to the water when boiling). German households often have tall or longish asparagus pots but any pot large enough to hold the stalks without damaging them will do. Cook until the thicker end of the asparagus is done and serve with melted butter, cooked buttered potatoes sprinkled with parsley and your favorite German meat dish (traditionally a regional ham or bratwurst). If you want to get fancy, you can also whip up a hollandaise sauce.

Eating Out

Of course: If you are traveling you might not want to prepare the "white gold" yourself. Many restaurants ("Gasthaus") in the region serve a variety of asparagus dishes during the season. A good restaurant will make a recommendation of Franconian wine to got with the dish. In its simplest - and personally my favorite - form (cooked and served with melted butter, cooked potatoes and cooked or cured ham) you will often be served a glass of chilled Silvaner, Franconia's typical varietal, a dry white wine that grows in the vineyards of the Trias region.

You will also find green asparagus here nowadays. Be sure to try both kinds.

If you want to experience "Spargelzeit" this year you'll have to make your travel plans soon. The season ends on June 24th, on "Johanni" (holy day Saint John the Baptist). If you make in "on time" you will be able to see the region's "Asparagus Queen". Theresa Günther will be inthroned (on an armchair from the castle, that is often used for such purposes) on April 23rd in the next village over (Kolitzheim).

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Tuesday
Apr032012

Big News!

Castle Winery Founded

Visitors to the castle have often asked me: "Do you have your winery, too?". I'd always have to say, regretfully, no. That is about to change.

Together with two partners I founded the castle-own winery "Weingut Barockschloss". We are starting out small and are tending about 7,000 grape vines of different varietals in the first 1-2 years. Our first vintage is growing now in the nearby vineyards overlooking the Main River Valley. Pruning is over and we are currently busy repairing some of the older posts. After the wine harvest this Fall our winemaker Christian will tend to the wine we will present to the world in May 2013.

Stay tuned for news from the castle winery and be sure to visit us next year to taste our wines in situ. Of course you will also be able to taste good regional wines at the castle until then, too.

Bleeding Grape VineVineLast Year's Clingers

Sunday
Dec252011

Winter in Zeilitzheim

The hotel is closed until the end of February. It's just too cold this time of year and/or too expensive to heat. We are making good use of the time by renovating some of the rooms. And of course Christmas itself is the highlight of the season. My New Year's resolution for 2012? Feeding this blog more (not just the Blog in German). #alttext#
Friday
Jul292011

Day-trips to the Fichtelgebirge Region

I recently went on a short vacation to the Fichtelgebirge region with my family. It is mountain range that is close enough to Zeilitzheim for day trips (about 100 miles / 160 km), which is why I want to recommend it here.

For those interested in cultural events, the Luisenburgfestspiele near Wunsiedel are an attraction during the summer months. The Luisenburg Rock Labyrinth is also located here and is a must visit with kids. Our kids, who usually tend to start whining after a couple hundred yards on walks, climbed up the jagged rocks with a frenzy.

We visited the visitor mine near Fichtelberg on a rainy day; perfect, as you spend about an hour under ground. This is a great tour for kids, too. You get to wear a miners overcoat, helmet and lamp. Every visitor (who wants it) is christened with a smear of silver dust on the cheek. Group pictures can be ordered at 3 Euros including postage within Germany (so you could have the pictures mailed to your hotel if you travel Germany for a few weeks).

The mountains aren't exactly the Rockies but still fun to climb (more likely hike up). If traveling with kids you can always take one of the two chair lifts up the Ochsenkopf mountain and hike back down. We hiked down half way and then took the Sommerrodelbahn (dry toboggan run) down the rest of the way. A blast! Not just for the kids...

Of course there are numerous restaurants in the region. Feel free to ask me for recommendations when you visit!

On the way home we stopped off at Bayreuth which is a beautiful city with grand architecture. The Hermitage (with its sprawling gardens and - of course - beer garden) is a must visit in Bayreuth.

There is so much to see and do within a 100-200 km radius of Zeilitzheim. We will continue to go on short vacations within our own region so that I can post more travel tips here on the blog.

Photos: Luisenburg Rock Labyrinth, Hermitage (Bayreuth) - more at flickr.com

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