Same time last year, we were on holiday in Switzerland, living a #Travelife.
We’d checked out of our hotel, the beautiful and world-famous Beau Rivage Palace Lausanne along Lake Geneva, where we’d spent four happy days exploring the Swiss Riviera. Then we drove four hours along Lake Neuchatel, through the art town of Basel and into Germany, to the lovely home of friends just outside Baden Baden.
Our common friends say the husband has the Midas touch for he is successful in whatever he does.
Right now, he owns a very well-regarded vineyard in Germany and his wines are served in some of Germany’s best restaurants and hotels.
He also restores the antiques of European royalty and aristocracy as a hobby that I suspect must also pay a handsome income — for this is work few can do, and he is the go-to person for the kind of furniture owners who have very large estates or castles in Europe.
One of the most notable pieces he’s worked on was a chest made in Prussia for Catherine the Great of Russia.
He told me that while working on this chest, he found an inscription of a Prussian soldier on a secret underside of the cabinet made for Catherine the Great that perhaps no one in the world had ever seen before.
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The Prussian soldier had written something like: “I am so honoured to be carrying this chest from Prussia to Russia for the Empress Catherine I.”
This was an amazing story for me, especially as I am a big fan of Catherine the Great. Imagine that.
So let’s just say that he’s certainly not your average woodwork enthusiast.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL AFTERNOON TEA & COCKTAILS
We arrived just in time for dinner; and for cocktails, we sat on furniture the husband had created himself as he served us excellent wine from his own vineyards mixed with an elderflower syrup that his wife had just made from flowers picked in the mountains just behind their home.
The wife also served us berries handpicked from the mountains with a pie she’d made herself.
Then we sat down to dinner at a table he carved and on which he served a meal he literally oversaw from the beginning.
He’d gone out to the forest the other day and shot a wild boar, cut and cleaned this, and then tonight made a delicious ravioli out of the meat of wild boar, flavored with herbs from their garden.
It’s not a simple matter at all to go hunting in Germany, by the way. The husband had to do some serious studying at a school in another city on every aspect of hunting, and then sit for an exam before getting certified.
Hunting in Germany is highly regulated for safety, animal welfare and environment protection.
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A BOUNTIFUL GARDEN
The next courses were fresh asparagus and tomatoes from the garden, breaded wild boar flavored with garlic, and a Bavarian-style pancake.
All these with more wines from their vineyards.
For dessert, the wife made a chocolate mousse and served tea with honey harvested from beehives right on their terrace. They have three beehives and each year they get between four to six kilos of honey.
THE NATURAL TRAVELIFE
“We never eat processed food or packaged food,” the wife said. “As much as possible, we grow and source our own food ingredients. We don’t even buy meat from the supermarket because we’re never sure of where these came from or what they were fed.”
How nice it must be to have a hand in creating so many things in one’s life instead of buying things already packaged or prepared at the store. And how much healthier as well.