Germany is not famous for its food. You can find great beer and sausages in every German village, town and city, but haute cuisine is rarely on the menu.
We have travelled through Germany four times on this tour and still have another trip to make, to Berlin; but the purpose of that visit is a homage to David Bowie, not to search for fine dining.
To be honest, our budget doesn’t extend to Michelin stars – which is why when we were in Copenhagen, home of the world’s best restaurant, we ate in a noodle bar, not Noma.
We were lucky enough to enjoy some proper German home cooking when we stayed with our friends Berndt and Anni in their home in Wittmund, on the East Frisia coast.
Nothing beats Anni’s potato salad.
It is the heart of a meal deserving of at least one Michelin star when paired with a fillet or two of cold trout, some green salad and washed down with a glass (or several) of ice-cold German lager.
Other German delights are white asparagus, or spargel, which, when in season, are sold in fat bunches everywhere from roadside stalls to high-end organic foodstores.
And every restaurant has to offer at least three ways of serving the bleached out vegetable.
Our supermarket of choice Lidl, is of course German, and we love their pre-cooked trout fillets – when we can find them.
Thanks to a recommendation from Bernd, I am also now a firm fan of currywurst – sausages with curry sauce, preferably accompanied by chips, and yes, more chilled beer. Don’t knock it until you have tried it.
And he introduced us to the Berliner. Remember John F Kennedy’s famous 1963 speech, “Ich bin ein Berliner’.
What President Kennedy and his speechwriters wanted to convey was that the leader of the free world empathised with the divided city.
“All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words Ich bin ein Berliner.”
What they didn’t realise was that a Berliner is also the name of a very popular German cake – a jammy doughnut to be precise.
Bernd’s Berliners were still warm from the bakery, and were absolutey delicious. To paraphrase Jack Kennedy, “Ich liebe ein Berliner”.
When we were in the Black Forest we had to try some of the region’s eponymous gateau.
Now I love cherries and dark chocolate, I mean really love cherries and dark chocolate, but an authentic Black Forest gateau has w-a-a-ay too much cream for my taste.
Any cream is too much for me to be honest.
So I invested in a bottle of sauer kirschen likor (sour cherry liquer) which I pour on chocolate cake or ice-cream for my own twist on a 1970’s classic.
Talking of which, while living in Berlin with that well-known gourmet Iggy Pop, David Bowie is reputed to have existed on monumental amounts of booze and coffee, with the occasional steak.
As a rehab diet it leaves a lot to be desired, but Berlin is where he wrote Low and kicked his cocaine habit, so there may be something to be said for beer and sausages after all.
German potato salad
Ingredients, with oil
There are two types of potato salad – one with mayonnaise and one with oil and vinegar. There are also many variations on the theme. I love them all.
1 kg of new potatoes
1 onion, quartered
250g bacon, diced (skip if you’re cooking for veggies)
1 large white onion
1 large red onion, diced
¾ cup of cider vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
6 spring onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Boil the potatoes with the white onion until the potatoes are tender.
Drain, discard the onion and place the potatoes in a large bowl and cover to keep warm.
Cook the diced back in a saute pan until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchn paper.
Add the red onion to the rendered bacon fat and cook until soft, around 3 or 4 minutes.
If you’re skipping the bacon, cook the red onion is some olive oil
Carefull add the vinegar and mustard and cook for 2 more minutes.
Whisk in the oil and season to taste.
Add the hot dressing to the potatoes and toss gently to coat.
Fold in the spring onions and parsley.
Season again with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve with cold cooked trout fillets or hot grilled sausages, a tossed green salad and a glass of cold German lager.
Beat that Noma, or 108, the new Noma apparently.
- It is said it is easier to win the Nobel Peace Prize than secure a table at Noma, Copenhagen’s world beating restaurant, so we didn’t even try. That and it is closed until December 2017.
- Currywurst is the ultimate fast food. Beats doner kebabs any day as far as I am concerned.
- Germans eat 125,000 tones of white asparagus during its short spring season. They love it. Read why here.
- A day in the life of David Bowie during his Berlin period.