Let me take you to Germany’s Black Forest region in the state of Baden Württemberg, as we explore the culinary paradise that you can find here and look at some of the best tradition German Food you can find here.
Yes, there will be cake. Lots of cake.
TRADITION GERMAN FOOD IN THE BLACK FOREST
A Short Introduction to Southwest Germany’s Traditional Food
As the German region of Baden Württemberg is so close to the French and Swiss border, it’s no surprise that their kitchen has been influenced by these neighbours. Combining that with the region’s fertile soil and warm climate, you get an abundance of products and an even bigger variety of delicious meals.
Don’t forget to pair your meals with traditional Baden wines. Most famous are the Gutedel, Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Silvaner, Grau- and Weißburgunder, Bacchus, Chardonnay, Nobling, Muskateller, Kerner, Traminer and Blau Spätburgunder.
There are many cellars open for a visit and local wine festivals are being celebrated throughout the summer and autumn.
Of course beer and many alcoholic fruit schnapps are also made in this region for generations. In fact, The Black Forest has the highest density of distilleries in the world (over 14,000!). They call it Kirch-Wasser (Cherry Water) – but I don’t recommend brushing your teeth with this (unless you’re Ke$ha maybe…)
The German answer to pasta is Spätzle and they are a specialty of this region. Knöpfle are the short & round version found in the Baden region. They are made from flour, eggs, water, and salt and have a much more moist and soft dough than pasta that cannot be rolled out.
You have to sort of Play-Doh-squeeze it through holes, much like a garlic press. They are then boiled much like you would gnocchi.
WHERE TO EAT: The Spätzle below, together with a delicious meat skewer with a cherry-sauce was at Hotel Gasthof Kreuz in Wolfach. The other one below that was at Hausbrauerei Feierling in Freiburg (hidden under the MASSIVE Schnitzel).
With a boyfriend from Venlo in The Netherlands (Almost the asparagus capital of Europe), I’ve been introduced to this ‘white gold‘ for a couple of years now, but I must say that the Germans also really do them amazingly well (I think, actually that Nick’s family always buys them just across the border, but don’t tell anyone).
The asparagus season is short: it begins in April and runs through June. During this time, you will find asparagus on pretty much any restaurant menu in Germany.
Asparagus consist of 95% water and are very low in calories (hurrah for your diet – boo for drowning them in cheese sauce) and are generally quite healthy for you.
Random Facts: Until the 18th century, asparagus were considered a luxury food and only eaten by the wealthy. White asparagus are those that haven’t yet been touched by sunlight. They are particularly mild in taste. Green asparagus are a different variety, their stem is thinner and they are more flavorful.
WHERE TO EAT: I enjoyed my meal with asparagus, kartoffeln (potatoes) and Schnitzel (breaded veal cutlet) at the restaurant of Hofgut Sternen in Hinterzarten.
Spectacular Schwarzwälder Schinken
Ahh… now this is a famous export product from the Black Forest. Their Ham. The secret of the real authentic Black Forest ham is a long maturation, which generally takes about three months. But don’t worry, there is plenty to go around. Every restaurant is stocked with them!
Black Forest ham is the best-selling smoked ham in Europe. After curing the meat in salt for about two weeks (followed by 2 weeks curing without salt), it is cold-smoked for several weeks, during which time the original Black Forest ham becomes almost black on the outside.
In the EU, the name is protected, but in the USA and Canada you will find various commercially produced hams of varying degrees of quality to be sold unrightfully under this name. So if you want to be sure, head over to Germany friends!
Then I finally tasted it at the restaurant of Hofgut Sternen in Hinterzarten, who didn’t really understand that I just wanted to try a bit of it as a starter, so they gave me my massive plate of asparagus together with two sandwiches of ham and other stuff… whoops.
Yummy Yogurteis & Blissful Berries
When driving around the Black Forest, you’ll probably come across some massive trucks transporting milk. The Germans, just like the Dutch, love their dairy products! Of course it’s not just milk, but also yoghurt that they make with it here. Or even better: yoghurt ice cream *ahh!*
Combine your ice cream it with fresh berries from the area, or delicious pancakes, and you’re ready to start the day well for sure!
WHERE TO EAT: I spoiled myself at Hofgut Sternen in Hinterzarten before heading off to hike the local gorge. As you should.
While I always knew them as Pretzels, the real word for these tasty, salty bread twisty-things is a Brezel, but whatever the name, I LOVE them and always try to get one when in Germany.
While you can pretty much get brezels all around Germany, they are really most well-known in the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Lucky me!
They are really baked for consumption on the same day and you can also find them sliced and buttered (Butterbrezel) or even served with slices of cold meats or cheese.
WHERE TO EAT: I got one at the airport in Basel, but ate it too fast to take a picture *gulp*, but this one below is at Hausbrauerei Feierling in Freiburg, where you can eat it like you’re supposed to: with a good glass beer.
If you’re in Freiburg, you have to try out this local specialty called the ‘Lange Rote‘ (the ‘Long Red One’). It’s a grilled 35-centimeter long spicy sausage, made from finely ground pork and bacon, folded in two (if you don’t want to look like a tourist, eat it unfolded, I’ve been told) and placed in a bun with onions (although there are some who believe this shouldn’t be added), ketchup and mustard on top.
They call it the ‘King of the Sausages‘ in Freiburg and it’s definitely a great snack. Without that skin that you would normally find on a sausage, it’s just very easy to eat and gives it a special, gold-yellow colour.
WHERE TO EAT: For 2,50 Euro at the Münsterplatz, Freiburg, Just say ‘ein Lange Rote, bitte!’ – there will be a queue though!
Perfect Pellkartoffeln mit Quark
This dish might not be the best looking one of them all, but once you’ve tasted it, you’ll love it! The Pellkartoffeln are like Jacket Potatoes, and the Quark is a fresh cheese made from warmed soured milk. It’s very light in calories and taste.
They often served quark to accompany breads or vegetables as a starter or even a light breakfast. You can also use it as a kind of yogurt and top it with fruit or granola.
WHERE TO EAT: I had a very traditional version of this meal at the open air museum Vogtsbauerhof in Gutach. Some days of the week, a lady is cooking here in the old-fashioned way and she uses herbs from her own garden to add some secret ingredients to the quark. Yum!
Another great South-German dish is the Flammkuchen and these also come in different shapes and sizes. It basically is nothing more than bread dough rolled out very thin in the shape of a rectangle (traditionally) or circle, then covered with white cheese or crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons… but it’s sooooo good as an afternoon snack or lunch!
According to history, the dish comes from farmers who used to bake bread once a week or every other week and baked a flammkuchen to test the heat of their wood-fired ovens. The heat would bake it in 1-2 minutes, leaving a nearly burned crust around the edges.
WHERE TO EAT: I had to wait for it quite a bit, but when they finally served me at the Schwarzbrennerei in Titisee, I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Together with a Johannisbeersaft (Currant juice), I had a great little lunch! (And just check their cute interior below as well!)
Ok, this cake is originally from Austria (named after the city of Linz), but served in Germany regularly, especially around Christmas time. The cake is made from short, crumbly pastry filled with with almonds, raspberry jam and -of course- some raspberry liquor. Topped with powdered sugar.
Cool fact: The Linzer Torte is said to be the oldest cake in the world!
WHERE TO EAT: I had my slice at the little kiosk next to the kids playground at the open air museum Vogtsbauerhof in Gutach. But I’m sure they serve it in plenty of places around the Black Forest!
Of course I’ve kept the best cake of them all for last:
If one thing is a symbol of the kitchen in the Black Forest, it’s definitely the Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, or the Black Forest Gateau. layers of chocolate cake, spread with with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. The cake is then decorated with more whipped cream (because you can never have enough, really), maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings.
What I didn’t know about was the secret ingredient: Kirch. Or better known as “a-clear-liquor-that -makes-you-unfit-to-drive-after-eating-just-one-slice-of-this-cake”. Because yes, the people of the Black Forest love the cake drowned in this!
WHERE TO EAT: I had a very, very good slice of the cake (read: very, very full of liquor) at the Dorotheenhütte in Wolfach. But then again, I made it myself.
Black Forest Hotel Suggestions
I had a lovely stay at the following hotels during my stay in Germany:
Park Hotel Post – Eisenbahnstraße 35/37, 79098 Freiburg
Hotel Hofgut Sternen – Höllsteig 76, 79874 Breitnau/Hinterzarten
Gasthof Hotel zum Hecht – Hauptstraße 51, 77709 Wolfach
Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with the Dutch office of the German Tourism Authority.
More Travel in Germany
Looking for other cool places to visit in Germany? We can recommend:
- One Day in Gengenbach
- One Day in Freiburg
- One Day in Berlin
- One Day in Bremen
- One Day in Hamburg
- One Day in Magdeburg
- Transromanica Road Trip