Wednesday 13 June 2012

Banqueting in Bavaria

Hotel Oberkirch Restaurant in FreiburgMost Brits headed to London last week to commemorate the Queen’s Jubilee, but instead my boyfriend and I escaped the capital to celebrate his 30th birthday in Germany. Despite his newfound status as a “mature and responsible adult”, he is still an enormous rollercoaster fanatic, so I treated him to a trip to his favourite theme park Europa-Park.

Unfortunately a lifetime suffering from motion sickness, combined with a highly cautious nature and a fear of heights (or rather, a fear of rapidly plummeting from these heights to my death), makes me a poor companion for such adventures. So my man’s thrill-seeking father and younger brother came along for the rides, allowing me to perfect the role of dutiful girlfriend and bag-carrier from a safe viewing distance at ground level.

Whilst I might not have been brave enough to subject my senses to the twists and turns readily available at Europa-Park, I was very willing for my tastebuds to experience the gastronomic delights that the rest of Bavaria had to offer. My last German holiday was around 15 years ago, and I have fond memories of tucking into delicious breakfasts, dinners and mid-afternoon “kaffee mit kuchen”. Since then my palate has improved, but equally I’ve also become more picky (my suppertime staple of pizza is now top of the banned list), so I was looking forward to seeing whether my recollections held true.

Thankfully the food lived up to my expectations just as much as the rollercoasters satisfied the boys’ need for speed. There were a few delicacies I missed out on due to the shortness of our stay, but I thought I’d share a few snapshots of my best “essen” with you…

Spicy cured salami for breakfast  Smoked pork shoulder and salad

Pork – Normally I avoid ordering pork in English restaurants because I find it less flavoursome than other meats, but in Germany the pig plays a starring role in most meals. Slivers of spicy cured salami are served up alongside freshly baked rolls and chunks of cheese at the start of the day, and this smoked pork shoulder would be equally appetising either cold and diced into a lunchtime salad, or warm and cut into thick slices with stick-thin chips for supper (which is how I enjoyed it at the Hotel Oberkirch in Freiburg).

One pork variation that I didn’t get to test on this trip was the bratwurst. I’m a real snob when it comes to sausages, and as the only opportunity I had to try a Bavarian banger was at one of Europa-Park’s food stalls, I decided it was better to wait until another time when I could be certain my wurst was the real deal…see what I mean about me being risk-averse?!

Pork schnitzel

Schnitzel – According to Wikipedia (the font of all knowledge!) Schnitzel is an Austrian dish, but from my experience it is also very popular in Germany. Traditionally it is made with a veal escalope, which is flattened with a hammer, coated in breadcrumbs and then fried, but a succulent pork version like this one is also very common.

Day #159 of #project366 - beautifully cooked rump steak skewer with bacon, onions and peppers

Steak –  If you’re ever invited to a Bavarian barbecue, I’d advise you to RSVP asap to make sure you don’t miss out on their excellent grilling skills! A variety of beef steaks usually feature on most German restaurant menus, and this rump skewer with bacon, onions and red pepper strips impressed me so much that it had to be my #project366 photo for day #159. The cubes of steak had been perfectly seasoned, with a satisfyingly smoky charred outside making way to a surprisingly pink and juicy core, once the meat was extracted from its metal spike. In hindsight, I should have also captured a shot of the rump’s bloodied centre as evidence of the chef’s talents.

Day #157 of #project366 - starter salad and traditional breads at beginning of our German holiday

Bread –  Carbohydrate lovers will be relieved to hear that a German holiday doesn't equate to a week on the Atkins Diet. Bread is also a key part of the daily routine in Bavaria, with independent bakeries opening up as the sun rises to provide the locals with their essential seed-topped baps and loaves. I guarantee you will feel content after a leisurely continental breakfast of crusty rolls spread thick with sweet homemade fruit jam, and dark rye bread (as shown above) with luxurious smoked salmon.

Salty pretzels are another speciality in this region, and can be easily torn into pieces to make an ideal snack whilst sightseeing. I always remember my dad (who worked for a German company) telling me that pretzels are known as “schnecke”, which hopefully is because of their snail-like shape rather than their textural combination of a crispy exterior and soft doughy middle!

Day #160 of #project366 - starting our final day in Germany with a slice of delicious raisin loaf  Close-up raisin loaf

I got into the habit of starting my day with a slice of this raisin loaf, which tasted just like a giant Chelsea bun, so it was only fair to add it to my #project366 Pinterest board collection!

Cherry and almond sponge cake  A gilded tray of cake at the breakfast buffet

Cake – The first German words I ever learnt were "Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte” (Black Forest cherry gateaux) - a telling sign of the gourmand that my seven-year old self would eventually become! I restrained myself from reacquainting myself with this rich chocolate sponge layered with fluffy cream and sour cherries, but I couldn't resist the temptations of this small square of light cherry and almond cake. Who cares that it was part of the hotel's breakfast buffet - with such an abundance of moist cheesecakes and sweet fruit flans available in Bavaria (on top of all the other great food around) was going to have to seize ever opportunity to tuck in!

Mango and Bounty ice cream

Ice cream – Germany might be renowned for “Bratwurst, Brot und Bier”, but hidden within almost every Stadt will be an unbelievable ice cream parlour offering a range of incredible flavours. During our stay I devoured numerous scoops of tongue-tingling Eis covering the full spectrum (from mango and coconut, right through to amaretto and cappuccino, via banana-chocolate), all of which melted blissfully in my mouth. The weather might not have been hot enough to warrant so many ice cream breaks, but when it tastes so lip-smackingly good what more excuse did I need?!


  1. I'd never ad any desire to go to Germany - until now! And I'm not referring to the rollercoasters! Icecream, steak, pretzels...when's the next flight?!

  2. Hmmm tasty! The perfect reading for my trip to Germany this year! I will be tucking in to those pretzels and cakes as soon as I arrive!