A new week had begun and The King had left his kingdom. I wondered how things would change, if the mice would decide to play since the cat was away- these were a group of young people after all. But no- the same dedication and focus were there as ever, the same team spirit and sense of comradeship and of course the friendliness I had been treated to from day one. Only at this point, I really felt like part of the team and even though of course I needed guidance with new disciplines and recipes, a whole lot of routine had been established and that was a great feeling to start the week with.
Of course, my highlight of the day today was to be the excursion to Morsum and Johannes King's garden, tended by the delightful Maria, who has created a culinary "Garden of Eden" in the truest sense of the word. I had been delighted by a huge selection of wild, delicate herbs during my stay so far... some with English equivalent names, others indigenous to the island and the region that do not... but there were so many more to be discovered- and plenty more besides...
After breakfast with the team and a couple of hours of the now usual prep-work, I jumped into the van with Andreas and Marcel and we speeded off across the meadows on what was the sunniest day so far- simply beautiful! But the quaintness and perfection of country living that lay ahead still took me by surprise!
A Home in the Country
With it's thatched roof and rustic red-brick structure, this was a picture book country cottage. Set on a sprawling plain of meadows, with huge bales of hay littering the background and sheep grazing the pastures, it was quite a stark contrast to my home town of Frankfurt- or "Mainhattan" as we call it- with our tongues fixed firmly in our cheeks. But there are no tower blocks and definitely no skyscrapers on this island! This is "Smallville"- and that's a good thing!
The thing that strikes you about the garden is simply the vast variety- of greens, fruits, vegetables, herbs, even a great beehive which produces the exquisite honey for both the Söl'ring Hof and the Genuss Shop. Poppies flourish next to strawberries and chives, bronze fennel towers above arugula, mint, lemon balm, parsley, sage, rosemary, chervil, thyme, lovage... cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes... you name it! I simply lost track and am not ashamed to admit it! There were many, many herbs here that I never new existed... or that were edible- and it was an absolute joy to behold!
But were weren't just there to take-in the scenery... we were men with a mission and we had work to do! Andreas and Marcel were there to tend to the hive and I in the meantime was to pick herbs for the restaurant. With a list in hand, I set out to search for the numerous wild and wonderful herbs- not always an easy task as I had no idea what some of them looked like! Fortunately, Maria has labels and tags marking the vast majority of things... I guess Batman would have done it that way too, had he had a garden- haha!
Whilst the guys went to get suited up, I chatted with Maria and went about picking, rinsing and boxing herbs. An artist herself, she has created a work of art with her garden too, painted with a palate of lush green and vivid colors... I am sure she never lacks inspiration living in such a wonderful and idyllic location!
Johannes King's Queen Bee's
The hive is a slick, modern structure that Marcel and Andreas constructed themselves, though Marcel is the the mastermind behind this. He explained how he has 2 swarms of bees that he wants to bring together, but that as each has their own queen, it is not always a simple matter of buying a hive from somewhere else and just throwing 2 colonies together- it could lead to conflict! And because the state of things is so dire, with bees dying out around the globe, these things are monitored and restricted by the authorities- and rightly so! It is not everyone that does such a good job as Marcel! I heard say that he has produced and churned more than 40 liters of wonderful, sustainable, local and purest honey- good work!
As a little treat, Maria appeared from indoors with ice cream to cool us off- which I thought was a wonderful idea- except for the fact that there were so many excitable bees flying around and I was a little wary of not having protective clothing! The little break did us all good the bees behaved themselves- so a good time was had by all! We said our farewells, packed our boxes full of bounty into the van and waved bye-bye. This had been a lovely contrast to the elegance of the hotel and a wonderful reminder of how special the ingredients that it's guests enjoyed actually were. Pricey as Söl'ring Hof undoubtedly is- there is a reason for it and a good one at that. It is a luxury destination, no question, but in this modern day and age, one of the greatest luxuries of all is to have the most wonderful fresh produce grown especially for you- and then prepared and presented by a true culinary genius. Or his wonderful team. Speaking of which... they needed us back in the kitchen! So back we sped and on we went to continue with the afternoons preparations and the evenings service and cooking! Another day in the life... but what a life it was!
At around 11.30 I made my way home, happy but exhausted... but also a little melancholy already. I only had a couple of days more to enjoy and I had grown to love it here... but there was no time for sadness just yet- there was only just enough time for sleep! Looking over my shoulder and seeing this last scene I am sure will not find it hard to believe that this is what I also saw in my dreams- and how many of us can claim to have had a dream come true?