Travel for me is exciting. Exploring new regions, discovering food and drink flavours, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and learning to communicate in a language that is different from yours. All of this is a lot of fun to me.
The Black Forest Germany – Baden Baden
The Black Forest is an area that I have been to several times before when I was working in Luxembourg. It’s only a short drive away. Just over the peaks of the Black Forest is France.
There is a lot to discover here. We spent a few days enjoying some great German hospitality and seeing many different aspects of the Black Forest.
This area has had a lot of French influence over the years and that includes the food. In the local brasserie, I had the Flammkuchen which is very similar to the Alsatian Pizza, Tarte flambée, which is a flat bread topped with an assortment of ingredients. Here I had one with local game, onions and cheese. You will find these in lots of the local restaurants and is quite a popular fast food.
Of course being the in the Black Forest area, you have to have some Black Forest Gateau. My first taste of this was at a mountain top cafe at the Mummelsee Lake. It’s different from the ones I have had in London. There is less sponge, more cream and lots of very alcoholic cherries. Eating this cake in the beautiful setting was just perfect.
On a guided walk through the Lotharpfad in the Black Forest, we discovered so many edible plants with interesting flavours. This area was flattened by Hurricane Lothar and the locals have built this 800m path through the forest. As an experiment, they have left this area to regrow in an unmanaged fashion. The result is the discovery of a lot of new plants that have been suppressed by taller trees, return of wildlife and a whole new ecology that was unexpected.
Wild blueberry plants grow abundantly in the area. Visitors are not allowed to pick them as they are the only food for a rare bird, the Capercaillie, a type of grouse. Foragers are known to decimate the blueberry in the forest to sell to French chefs over the border.
Abundant Silver Fir trees line the paths and the leaves taste of oranges. Local chefs have been using this in their dishes to add a citrusy flavour and even to make chocolates. In the autumn, mushrooms grow abundantly here.
Nearby Baiersbronn town is meant to be a hidden culinary wonderland, with two 3 star Michelin restaurants (check out Schwarzwaldstube and Bareiss) within the small area. Unfortunately, our itinerary couldn’t accommodate a stop here. It is a well-known gastronomy destination for German and Central European visitors.
Earlier in the summer, these Michelin Starred chefs celebrated the produce of the Black Forest with a 5-course menu in the forest. This involved a hike, some foraging and a culinary experience as each chef served up a dish using one of the ingredients foraged here. Unfortunately, we found out about this unusual culinary experience too late but do check with the Baiersbronn tourist office for details of the next event or guided hike.
There are various other guided tours around this area, including a craft beer one which involves a hike through the Black Forest, various stops for drinks that have been strategically cooling in rivers along the way.
In Karlsruhe, we had an al fresco dinner at the Zum Kleinen Kletterer. They offer a European menu with a variety of local dishes like stuffed pig’s stomach, which turned out to be a big sausage. The names don’t translate very well into English. I stuck with a Wiener Schnitzel and glass of the local white wine.
Charcuterie and cured meats are found all over Germany. In this area, they make a variety of different sausages. They serve it up as cold meat platters or in sandwiches like this.
Pretzels abound in many different shapes and sizes. These are smaller than those that are found in Beer Gardens in Munich, not much bigger than your palm.
The Baden Wine Route
The Baden Wine route passes through the Black Forest area. Take a stop in the very flowery and picturesque town of Sasbachwalden. Here you can find wine shops that offer tastings of the local wine. The local bakery sells a fab blueberry meringue pie for €1.50. Don’t miss it.
The big new discovery for me is Europa-Park, the second largest theme park in Europe. We spent a day going on all the hair raising roller coasters. Scattered around the park, in each of the themed areas are numerous eateries. Our hot and tired feet took us to the nearest place, in Italy. We had a very passable pizza and salad while watching the live show on the stage across a Venetian like canal.
Europa-Park has so many facets, that it is all things to everyone. Different hotels and restaurants to suit every taste.
In their New England themed hotel, The Bell Rock, Chef Holger presides over their main food outlets. His fine dining restaurant is the Captain’s Finest. The indoor seating is luxurious and grand but outdoors, by the water, it’s like a beach house, all blue and white. Around the water, there are separate alcoves with romantic tables laid for two.
Our table on the waterside, with a great view of the dancing fountains, was a lovely setting for dinner. The atmosphere is a relaxed elegance with haunting jazz melodies playing the background. It is a sharp contrast to the colour and sounds of the theme park just metres away.
Surprisingly, we discovered that there is a 2 star restaurant in this hotel too. The Ammolite is a run by a different team and is a big draw for diners in the area. Unfortunately, it was not open the day that we were there.
Chef Holger serves a modern American menu with some New England specials like Lobster Bisque. He draws from his years of experience working in the US and you can see the influences in this menu. This was superb and can rival any I’ve tasted in Boston.
Surf and Turf here is done in style, with a lobster tail and a fabulous piece of steak. To end, we had a couple of the beautifully plated desserts, a vanilla creme brulee and a selection of sorbets.
I’d highly recommend an after dinner cocktail at either the Aviation themed “Spirit of St Louis”, the rooftop bar in the Spanish hotel or even Bar Colosseo on the 5th floor with a view of the shows in the Piazza. The attention to detail at each of the hotels and restaurants at Europa-Park is amazing. Someone had a lot of fun doing the interiors of these hotels.
You can find more details and itineraries at their respective website.
EatCookExplore was a guest of Fly-Baden.