Lantern, Lantern, Sun, Moon and Stars …
The evening of November 11th, kids across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg and South Tyrol in Italy will gather with self-made lanterns to go around town, singing this wll known tune and collecting sweets along the way – yes, I hear you, a bit like Halloween indeed.
However, this tradition is linked to Saint Martin Day, celebrated each year on the 11th of November. Saint Martin of Tours was a Roman soldier who as an adult was baptised and became a monk and later on even a Bishop. Various miracles are attributed to Martin of Tours and he became the patron of the poor, soldiers, conscientious objectors, tailors, and winemakers.
Lantern, Lantern, Sun, Moon and Stars …
Though he is mostly portrait on horseback, the goose became a symbol of Saint Martin of Tours because a legend stats that he was trying to avoid being ordained bishop by hiding in a goose pen, however, the cackling of the goose gave him away.
Today, in Germany it is tradition to kick-off the goose eating season on November 11th, which then lasts until Christmas. During this time, you will be hard-pressed to find a German restaurant that won’t offer traditional or sometimes also not so traditional goose menus.
Not that I would have needed an excuse to book a weekend trip, but clearly traditions should be honoured and so I was looking for a nice place to enjoy a goose menu with nearby accommodation to stay over after an evening that would very likely (well very obviously) involve a nice wine pairing as well.
Looming high over the Rhine river, Burg Reichenstein was presumably built in the 11th century. It went through various periods of being destroyed and rebuild until in 1899 it was purchased by one of Europe’s than wealthiest noble families, the Kirsch-Puricelli to become their family home. The family carried out an intensive restoration establishing the castles neo-Gothic style and lived there until 1936. Today, Burg Reichenstein is still owned by a direct descendant of the Kirsch-Puricelli family.
Located in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Middle Rhine about eight kilometres from the well-known town of Bingen and just over an hour from Frankfurt, most visitors to Burg Reichenstein come to see the castle museum, home to a large collection of furnishings, armour, hunting trophies (including one of Germany’s largest collections of antlers) and cast-iron oven wedges.
If you fancy a more inclusive experience, however, consider to book into one of the castle’s 21 guest rooms which were added during the latest renovation in 2015.
Given you are in a castle and renovations can only go so far, rooms are a bit on the small side but all are individually designed and feature amenities including comfy box spring beds, a kettle and tea making set, flatscreen and free WiFi.
The on-site Puricelli restaurant offers a seasonal cuisine with a strong emphasis on preparing everything in-house. and being located in the middle of the Middle-Rhine wine region, there is also an excellent wine list featuring mostly wines from the surrounding areas.
One of Burg Reichenstein’s annual culinary events includes a traditional goose menu ‘The best of the goose in four courses’, that runs during the whole goose season and features the most traditional German interpretation of goose.
Set in the castles beautiful Hunting Room, which is open for dinner only, the menu kicked off with goose rillettes accompanied by and apple celery salad and a very tasty, freshly baked farmhouse bread.
Next came a rich goose broth prepared with old port and root vegetables.
The third course was THE German classic: Goose breast and leg served with stuffed marzipan apple, vinegary braised red cabbage and a pair of plump potato dumplings.
To finish the menu was a stuffed williams pear with dark chocolate mousse and vanilla cream, another classic of the German autumn cuisine.
The next morning, breakfast was saved at the table too including various freshly baked breads, sweet pastries, a tiered stand of cheese and charcuterie along with homemade yoghurt and a fruit salad, and eggs any style you like.
November is certainly not the most exiting month for a trip to the Rhine Valley as the rolling green vineyards and the many fairytale castles towering on top of the many hilltops surrounded by thick forests have given way to a rather brownish landscape with rows of bare vines, and many of the castles will become almost indistinguishable from the now dark, leavesless forests and naked soil.
However, if you don’t mind the rather moody weather you can expect during this time of the year, with lots of fog sometimes lingering the whole day, you can still have a fab time visiting the area’s many wineries without the typical crowds of the summer months, and many of the local hotels, including those within the areas historic castles, will offer a range of really nice food and wellness programmes that make for a great weekend away from home.
Burgweg 24, Trechtingshausen