COUNTRY GUIDES: Germany

COUNTRY GUIDES: Germany

Want to fall in love with Germany? From traditional dishes to the more unexpected, here's how to do it according to four experts.

December 16, 2019
COUNTRY GUIDES: Germany

COUNTRY GUIDES: Germany

Want to fall in love with Germany? From traditional dishes to the more unexpected, here's how to do it according to four experts.

December 16, 2019
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COUNTRY GUIDES: Germany

 

By Kristen Hawley | Image © GNTB / Francesco Carovillano

Germany is a vast country, and you definitely don’t want to go in without an eating plan. There are things you’ve heard about–Riesling, bratwurst—and then there’s the rest. And the rest offers a stunning amount of amazing options with idyllic scenery to boot. Vibrant cities, towns full of culture and history, and stunning natural vistas from the Alps to the coast are calling. There’s so much to do, in fact, that you might need a little expert advice. Lucky for you, we got four of ‘em, each with their own unique ties to Germany. Read on to find their thoughts on where to try the best wine, traditional dishes, and sample some of the finer, yet accessible luxe dining spots.

MEET YOUR EXPERTS

Emily Harman lives in Berlin and runs Vina Lupa, a wine consultancy. She has over 13 years of experience in the restaurant industry, including stints at London’s legendary River Cafe and Attica, in Melbourne. Recently, she set up an independent wine fair at The Michelberger Hotel in Berlin called ‘Sommer Weinfest,’ which included 43 producers from across Europe and over 250 wines to taste.

Brittanny Anderson is a James Beard-nominated chef and owner of Brenner Pass, Chairlift, and Metzger Bar and Butchery. Brittanny grew up in Richmond, Virginia but trained in New York at the French Culinary Institute and worked in some of the best kitchens there before returning to her hometown to become one of the city’s most progressive restaurateurs, creating contemporary German-inspired cuisine. She was fresh off a research trip to Germany when we caught her.

Michael Gulotta was born and raised in New Orleans but has strong ties to Germany. After graduating from culinary school, he trained in the Italian Riviera and Germany’s Black Forest. He currently has two locations of his popular restaurant Mopho as well as Maypop in New Orleans.

Ethan Speizer literally just got off the plane from a weeks-long eating tour of Germany to connect with his German roots when we caught up with him for this guide. He is the president & co-founder of Napa Kombucha Company and estate chef at Ashes & Diamonds Winery.

WINE-D UP

 

German wine country is more than just Riesling, and any one of the country’s 13 wine regions provides a great insight into local flavors in the glass and on the plate. 

Luxe in the Mosel Region


© DWI - German Wine Institute

Emily Harman calls the Mosel, a region of steep riverside vineyards just two hours from Frankfurt, one of her favorites. Her top recommendation: producer Sybille Kuntz, one of the first in the area to work biodynamically. The winery has a cellar door — that means you can visit for a tasting — and rooms to book overnight in an idyllic setting. “The riverside drives are stunning, and in the summer months there are parts of the river you can swim in,” Harman says. 

The region also has its share of Michelin stars (Fun fact: there are 309 Michelin-starred restaurants in the country.) Harman recommends the two-starred Restaurant Schanz in Piesport and the three-starred Victor’s Fine Dining by Christian Bau in Perl-Nennig and Restaurant Sonnora in Dries. (Sybille and her husband’s favorite local restaurant is an Italian restaurant in Bernkastel-Kues called Restaurant Spinelli.)

While you’re there, she also suggests seeking out other wine producers: Heymann Lowenstein, Egon Muller, Joh Jos Prum, and Trossen.


New Discoveries in the South 

It’s a lesser-known region in the global world of wine, but Harman calls Württemberg “an exciting region with some very interesting growers popping up.” Book appointments in advance to visit. Her favorite is Weingut Roterfaden, started by a young couple, Hannse Hoffmann and Olympia Samara. They focus on Lemberger, also known as Blaufrankisch, which is native to the region.

© DWI - German Wine Institute

Andi Knauss is another promising grower from the region, Harman says, in his early 30s and making wine from 15 hectares (that’s about 37 acres) of organically farmed grapes. 

For a sophisticated meal, try Restaurant Lamm Rosswag, with an all-German wine list. Krone Alt Hoheneck in Ludwigsburg serves friendly and relaxed local cuisine. Ochsenpost in Tiefenbronn is super-traditional, and is “really a delight,” she says. And for something “traditional, rustic, simpler food but super-cute atmosphere” (this sounds perfect), Zum Nachtwächter in Lienzingen. 

Push Boundaries Near Berlin

An hour from Leipzig and around 2 ½ from the center of Berlin, Harman recommends Weingut Buddrus, “possibly the only winery that is really trying to push boundaries in the Saale-Unstrut wine region.” Konrad Buddrus and Evi Wehner biodynamically farm a small vineyard, an uncommon practice in East Germany. Harman says that wine has been produced in the area since the Middle Ages, but under Soviet control vineyards grew from around 50 acres of land to nearly 2,000 in 1990. 

 

Ochsenpost
Hot Spot
Tiefenbronn
$$, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Full Bar, German
Krone Alt-Hoheneck
Hot Spot
Ludwigsburg
$$, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, German, Entertainment

GERMAN FARE FROM CLASSY TO CLASSIC


Beer and sausage and beer and sausage and...

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it — and the traditional beer-brats pairing in Bavaria is definitely not broken. You should probably just make a day of it in Munich. Start at Schneider Weisses Brauerei for “the best weisswurst breakfast — best washed down with a wheat beer before noon!” says Brittanny Anderson. Then: bratwurst at Augustiner am Dom, “It’s the best of the style,” she says. At snack time hit Tegernsee Tal for German beer from the Alps and a beautiful light-filled dining hall with an awesome brotzeit board — think pretzels and spreads. For dinner: Weinhaus Neuner serves upscale and classic Bavarian, featuring what Anderson calls “a gorgeous wine list in a 15th century building.” Historic setting aside, it’s a modern restaurant. “It’s hidden away and feels like no one really knows about it.” Perfect.  

© GNTB / Florian Trykowski

To taste — and smell — like a true local, head to nearby Bamberg, the home of smoked beer. “The whole town smells like smoked malt as you drive in, windows down,” Anderson says.  Schlenkerla serves “amazing” smoked beer in a beautiful 14th century building, and serves great sausages and schweinhaxe, roasted pork knuckle. 

Roaaad Trip! 

The Black Forest, in the southwest part of the country near the Alsace region of France, is synonymous with a famous chocolate cake. But as chef Michael Gulotta knows from his time at Spielweg Hotel, there’s much more worth traveling for. He spent two years working in the hotel’s restaurant, leaving to return to New Orleans immediately post-Katrina.  

For an adventure that Gulotta could not be more excited to share, start in Freiburg Im Breisgau, a vibrant university town. A river runs through it, and everywhere you walk there’s water running through little canals down every street and gorgeous old buildings converted to bars and coffee shops.

If you keep driving, you’ll pass through the town of Staufen. Stop, because it’s time for “really amazing schnapps” at Schladerer. Gulotta recommends the Himbeergeist — that’s raspberry. Once the sampling’s done, visit Käsestube for cheese fondue and raclette.

Continue to Münstertal, and you’ll arrive at Spielweg, the hotel and restaurant where Gulotta studied under then-chef Chef Karl Joseph Fuchs. His daughters Viktoria and Kristin have since taken over, the sixth generation to run the business. An in-house cheese cellar, that Fuchs literally dug out from the mountain beneath the property years ago, means tons of house-made cheese, especially enjoyable during vesper, the snacking period between lunch and dinner. And do. not. leave. without asking for the Black Forest ham. True Black Forest ham, Gulotta explains, is like “the best Italian prosciutto you can think of but then hard smoked for days.” It’s cured in its own blood, giving it a rich and unmistakable purple color. 

© Getty Images / Westend61

Other regional favorites include blutwurst brägele, thick slices of pan-roasted blood sausage served over a hash of potatoes, onions, and apples topped with a sunny side up egg and veal jus. “It’s awesome.” Sounds awesome. 

Then there’s Flammkuchen, which Gulotta calls the drunk food served at every bar in the Black Forest: heavily smoked Black Forest bacon, creme fraiche, and thinly shaved onions and chives all on a flatbread. Seasonal variations include one topped with ramps in the spring, and another, Zwiebelkuchen, topped with lots of thinly sliced onions in the fall. It’s served almost like a rectangular pizza cut into squares on a wooden board, “and you just crush them,” he says. Go with a group and order a ton. 

 

More, More, More

Chef Ethan Speizer enjoyed plenty of tradition during a whirlwind lap of the country on an eating tour to find out more about his family’s history, starting with Max und Moritz in Berlin. “I trust any restaurant that’s been open 100-plus years,” he says, “and Max und Moritz has been feeding Berliners since 1902. Go for the schnitzel and smoked pork but stay for the restaurant’s character and old charm,” he says. 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano

In the medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, hit Reichsküchenmeister, where the service and classic, white-tablecloth fare seem to compete for top billing. “Try the perfectly executed sauerbraten – vinegar marinated and braised beef with potato dumplings.” 

And in Nuremberg, he recommends Zum Gulden Stern. “In a city renowned for its small “Nuremberg” sausages, Zum Gulden Stern is the O.G. Order eight to 10 Nurembergs grilled over beech wood accompanied by potato salad and mustard. Wash it down with a beer and a pretzel and take in the old-school atmosphere. Did famous painter Albrecht Durer eat here many times? Almost assuredly. Talk about atmosphere.

Max und Moritz
Hot Spot
Berliner Innenstadt, Berlin
$$, Reservations, Full Bar, German
Schlenkerla
Hot Spot
Bamberg
$$, Brewery, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Full Bar, Bavarian, Beer Garden
Augustiner am Dom
Hot Spot
München
$$, Happy Hour, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Full Bar, Bavarian
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