À la ferme

Spending the weekend in the Wormsa valley was so cool – we were less than 80 km from home but it was so relaxed and remote and fascinating that it felt like a real holiday. Reading and napping in the sun on the grassy slope between our cabin and the river, hiking past waterfalls and rivers and chilling out by secret alpine lakes – it was all just perfect. But of course no holiday in France is complete without… food!

After a very mediocre and quite expensive dinner at one of the village’s hotels (crème brûlée tasted like an omelette) (the whole thing served with a sidedish of snobbish attitude), we were certainly not impressed. We wanted some proper, no-nonsense, no fuss, no attitude alsatian food – so on the next day we decided to steer clear of any pretentious haute cuisine establishments and, once again, head for the hills (that seems to be our answer to everything :-) ).

Luckily, the Munster valley is peppered with little fermes-auberges that offer simple home-cooked meals made with fresh local ingredients – we couldn’t think of anything better. Most of these “fermes” don’t open till may, since they’re lost in the mountains and the weather is still too unpredictable in April. But after some research we found one that was open: the Hinterberg Ranch! It lay hidden somewhere in the mountain above us. Good food and alsatian wine – that seemed like a perfectly good reason to hike a few km uphill!

So we hiked,

and hiked,

and hiked…  We went past the very cool Pfeifferberg farm,

that organises donkey rides for kids of all ages:

and has a tipi in the garden:

(the place seemed like tons of fun). We hiked on and on for about an hour, with no sign of the farm on the horizon…

We were getting hungry and starting to despair that we’d never reach all that farm food goodness…

By the time we arrived, we were starved, thirsty and tired – just in time for a hearty meal!

 The little farmhouse is simple but comfortable – it has a sunny terrace but it’s also warm and cozy inside – perfect for cold winter sundays.

Also, it’s a ranch!! It is home to about half a dozen icelandic horses:

They’re short and stubby like ponies, and very friendly and good-natured. We found out that these cute little dudes’ glorious ancestor was Trekkur de Snorrastadir (1966-2002), a pony brought to France straight from Iceland about forty years ago (sidenote: i’m obsessed with all things icelandic since i read this unbelievable book. Best.gift.ever.). The very kind and sweet owner of the place, Monsieur Gabriel, told us that they used to offer horse rides in the woods,  but now all of Trekkur’s descendants are sadly too old.

But enough about all that – let’s get to the interesting bit: the food! I don’t tend to write much about food on this blog, but this unpretentious, hearty, delicious meal, lovingly prepared and served by kind, friendly people is definitely worth an honourable mention. The farm is not a restaurant – you don’t get a lot of options. In fact, you don’t get any options at all (which might be a bit frustrating if you’re, say, a vegetarian) – there is only one three course meal, and you can take it or leave it (but i strongly suggest that you take it! it was delicious). When we were there, the menu du jour included a finger-licking “tourte alsacienne” (a sort of light minced meat pie), smoked pork neck with braegele (soft country fried potatoes), and for dessert, a blackberry tart (most of it ended up on my jeans, of course) or fresh munster cheese with cumin. I never say “nom nom nom”, but if i did, i’d be saying it now.

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The whole thing was of course accompanied by some tasty and refreshing alsatian Edelzwicker (and, for Chris, a bit of alsatian beer :-) ).  It was exactly what we’d been craving. (Chris said it was the best meal of 2013 so far – i think i agree!).

After lunch, and after the obligatory little nap in the afternoon sunshine,

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we had a nice chat with the owners of the place – like their icelandic horses, they said, they are also old and like to take things easy… so if you’re planning a visit, make sure you call ahead for a reservation, because they only cook for a limited number of guests -you can find all the information you need here. (Also, they rent nice, simple, no-frill rooms for all the hikers out there who really want to get away from it all).

We walked down the mountain on the circuit des jonquilles, a short easy trail named after the thousands of daffodils that bloom everywhere. We ran into mountain cabins (wouldn’t it be awesome to spend the summer in a little cabin like that?)

and ended the hike back down by the stream – we couldn’t resist splashing around for a bit in the crystal clear (and freezing cold) water.

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That delicious meal was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend – now that we’re back to grey skies again, it feels a bit like a dream. I can’t wait for spring to get here – or rather i can’t wait for us to go where spring is. Greece awaits! :-)

Comments

  1. Very cool you guys!!

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