Posted on 12/04/2017
Southwest Germany, officially the state of Baden-Württemberg,
is Germany’s third largest state that stretches from the palaces of
Mannheim and Heidelberg in the north to garden island of Mainau in Lake
Constance in the south.
It is home to the Black Forest, the car city of Stuttgart where Porsche and Mercedes are based, the hills and countryside of Swabia speckled with Rococo churches and splendid palaces and the asparagus route near Hohenlohe. Extraordinary kitchens proliferate as does the production of local products and ingredients that go into the meals.
The year of “Genuss,” or culinary enjoyment, in 2018 is spread throughout the state. Towns and chefs from all corners will be celebrating their local and traditional dishes and products. The wine and beer industries comprised of many excellent, small wineries and microbreweries support the delicious meals.
Meeting the locals and having fun at a brewery or one of the family-owned wineries or festivals is a natural way to experience Southwest Germany. Handcrafted gin and Schnapps are also found in many of the local restaurants. Monkey 47, a popular dry gin, is made in the Black Forest of 47 different ingredients. Rustic schnapps and refined brandies are also local favorites from the Black Forest.
Still today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of approved distilleries in the Black Forest producing small and sometimes the tiniest amounts of schnapps, ranging from the simple fruit schnapps made from apples or pears to the distillates of local plums, Zwetschgen, right up to Kirsch, the queen of all fruit brandies.
Michelin starred restaurants dot the landscapes of the country and the cities offering all sorts of sophisticated plates.
Always popular however are also the traditional dishes that comprise part of many meals, including pretzels (of course), Spätzle (egg noodles), Kässpätzle (noodles with cheese); Fellchen (a white lake fish from Lake Constance), Flammkuchen (a quiche-like onion and bacon tart), Maultaschen (Swabian ravioli, filled with minced meat, onions, spinach); Ofenschlupfer (bread pudding); Rostbraten (steak and onions, with a red wine sauce); Schwarzwälder Schinken (cured, smoked ham) and, of course, the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest cake comprising chocolate cake, jam, cherries, Kirsch and lots of whipped cream).
These delicious dishes you can find in almost every restaurant but they are only the starters for many chefs who take these basics to the next level with creativity and ingenuity comprising local ingredients and great training.
The best place to start and end your trip is in the capital city of Stuttgart. Surrounded by the Württemberg wine hills, Stuttgart also is a perfect spot for a day trip to the half-timbered village of Esslingen that is renowned also for its centuries old sparkling wine cellar, Kessler. In 2018, Stuttgart will be celebrating 200 years of the annual Cannstatter Volksfest and 100 years of the annual agricultural festival.
Beer made in Baden-Württemberg is an unforgettable experience for all your senses and is part of the year of Genuss in 2018. The small town of Ehingen (Donau) was named “Beer Culture City,” as it is home to four breweries that, together, brew more than 40 beer varieties.
Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes between the rolling hills of the Swabian Alb and the shores of Lake Constance, this charming little town has the most breweries per capita in all of Baden-Württemberg.
Another tiny town with a big reputation and outstanding food production is the culinary town of Baiersbronn. Surrounded by lush green forests, Baiersbronn is a culinary pilgrimage worth taking. With just 14,500 residents and eight Michelin stars, it has the highest density of Michelin stars in all of Europe.
Baiersbronn is an impeccable combination of startlingly beautiful nature and delicious gourmet food everywhere from restaurants and inns and even to picnic baskets filled with “Baiersbronn Treasures.”
Southwest Germany also has two major wine-making regions that have their own scenic tours where visitors can drive, walk or take a car and explore the individual vintners and their vineyards—they are great places for good wine, good food and good company in Southwest Germany.
PHOTO: Picnickers enjoy a pleasant day in the town of Baiersbronn. (photo courtesy of Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH)