Explore the Cuisine of Germany

Germany is a destination with exciting culture, varied scenery and a long history. It’s time to add German cuisine to the list of attractions that the country can offer. Here are some of the highlights you can expect as you make your journey of culinary discovery.

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Culinary Excellence in Germany

Germany makes an attractive destination for discerning diners thanks to its fast-growing reputation for high-end cuisine. The world’s most recognised restaurant accolade, the Michelin star, currently adorns 300 restaurants in Germany. Eleven of these have been honoured with the guide’s top award of three stars – only France, the birthplace of haute cuisine, has more culinary temples to its name.

In 2018, the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) will be using its ‘Culinary Germany’ campaign to present the country’s extensive fine-dining segment to an international audience.

Cooking of the highest calibre – in big cities and small towns

The Gerolsteiner list, which is based on various prestigious restaurant guides, provides a comprehensive ranking of Germany’s gourmet restaurants and other foodie hotspots. It shows that Germany’s top restaurants not only cover a wide range of cooking styles, they also cover the length and breadth of the country. Award-winning chefs dazzle diners in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Leipzig as well as in smaller towns and rural areas.

Gourmet festivals: drawing crowds and attention to the regions

The impressive breadth of high-end cuisine in Germany is further enhanced by a number of food-themed events that attract connoisseurs from all over the world. A prime example is the Schleswig-Holstein Gourmet Festival, which has been running for over 30 years and brings international Michelin-starred chefs to northern Germany between September and March each year. Besides creating a festival atmosphere, the event also provides inspiration for the regional restaurant scene in Schleswig-Holstein.

Another world-class event is the Rheingau Gourmet & Wine Festival. For over 20 years, award-winning chefs from around the world have gathered here each spring. Nestled in

the heart of wine country, the festival also puts wine centre stage, showcasing the very best from different countries.

In search of inspiration and all the latest trends, budding chefs and bakers flock to consumer fairs such as the Eat & Style Food Festival, which is staged in Düsseldorf, Munich, Hamburg and Stuttgart. Here they can learn tips and tricks from top chefs in a series of workshops and themed cooking activities.

Fine dining and sustainability can go hand in hand

Like many businesses, Germany’s gourmet restaurants are embracing the sustainability trend. This is evidenced by certification schemes and initiatives such as Greentable, BIOSpitzenköche, Slow Food, Euro-Toques and the German Hotel and Restaurant Association’s environmental check. The aim is to support traditional production methods, culinary traditions and a responsible approach to food – with a preference for seasonal and locally sourced products.

A sustainable focus certainly doesn’t stop chefs from getting creative, as shown at restaurants such as Landhaus Scherrer in Hamburg and Nobelhart & Schmutzig in Berlin, which have both been awarded Michelin stars and Greentable certification. Pfaffenkeller in Kandern in the Markgräflerland region and FLUX organic restaurant in the Werra valley are just as proud of their various sustainability initiatives as they are of their Bib Gourmand recommendation in the Michelin Guide.

German Wine & asparagus – A delicious harmony

When over 2000 years ago the Romans brought wine to Germany, they also brought asparagus. In many wine regions, such as Rheinhessen, Baden, the Pfalz and Sachsen, vines and asparagus grow side by side.

Germany´s elegant white wines harmonize perfectly with the delicate aroma of white asparagus. “When choosing wine, care should be taken not to let the aromas of the wine overwhelm the delicately spicy asparagus”, Wines of Germany advises. “Ideal partners are varieties with a mild acidity like Silvaner, Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) or Müller-Thurgau.” They also blend with the slightly bitter nuances which white asparagus brings to the dish.

A Silvaner with its spicy-herbal aromas is a great recommendation, especially when the white spears are prepared in the traditional German way: Al dente, in a generous serving together with hollandaise sauce or melted butter and ham. In this combination not only the asparagus but also the saltiness of the ham create a refreshing interplay with the fine aromas of the wine.

Fish is another favourite with white asparagus, poached or lightly sautéed in butter. For a truly delicious pairing, try an elegant Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), its slightly nutty notes providing a very fine complement to the dish. As it happens, Germany has the greatest plantings of Pinot Blanc worldwide. This popular variety also pairs beautifully with prawns or scampi in the company of white asparagus.

When this noble vegetable is served with a good piece of meat, ideally veal or pork, creating a more strongly-flavoured dish, the accompanying wine may also be more powerful. Full-bodied Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) from the German wine regions are an excellent choice here.

In Germany, white asparagus is a seasonal speciality, available only until St. John´s Day on 24 June. It goes hand in hand with a light, health-conscious cuisine. It is low in calories (only ca. 20 calories/100 grams) but at the same time rich in minerals, trace elements and vitamins.

German Wine Making Traditions

For centuries, people have been producing wine and celebrating it as part of their way of life. Germany has no fewer than 13 different winegrowing regions where visitors can experience this culture: the Ahr, Middle Rhine, Moselle, Nahe, Palatinate and Rheinhessen regions (in Rhineland-Palatinate), the Rheingau and Hessische Bergstrasse (Hessen), Franconia (northern Bavaria), Baden and Württemberg (Baden-Württemberg), Saale-Unstrut (Saxony-Anhalt/Thuringia), and Saxony (the smallest and most easterly wine region, in the Elbe valley near Dresden).

As part of its 2018 ‘Culinary Germany’ campaign, the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is teaming up with the German Wine Institute to publicise Germany’s wine regions to connoisseurs the world over. In particular, it will highlight the many opportunities for active holidays in the regions. For example, themed itineraries for walkers and cyclists combine modern wine shops, quaint little wine rooms and cultural highlights with stunning views from trails that lead through steep vineyards, picturesque valleys and gently rolling hills.

Wine walks – short excursions or multi-day tours

There’s something for every kind of walker in the wine regions – from mini excursions and short loop trails to day-long routes and tours that take several days. Opened in late April 2007, the 7km ‘Wein und Stein’ discovery trail in Heppenheim, in the Hessische Bergstrasse wine region, incorporates 70 checkpoints with illustrated information boards that explain everything there is to know about wine.

Seasoned walkers will relish the challenge of the Römersteig on the Moselle, a beautiful 15km trail that climbs 600 metres. Walkers are rewarded for their efforts with insight into the region’s 2,000-year history of winegrowing and spectacular views of the meandering Moselle river.

Saale-Unstrut, Germany’s northernmost wine region, boasts an impressive network of walking trails covering almost 700 kilometres. The region is ideal for bike rides too. In fact, all the valleys in Germany’s winegrowing regions, such as the Rhine, Main, Moselle and Neckar valley, are great for a memorable cycle tour. The wine routes that connect the charming villages and towns in many of these regions make it easy to get around.

When it comes to tours that last several days, wine-loving walkers are spoilt for choice – there’s the Red Wine Trails in the Ahr valley and in Franconia, the Rhine-Nahe Wine Trail or the Saxon Wine Trail in the Elbe valley. The Rheinsteig trail, which runs from Wiesbaden to Bonn via the Rheingau and Middle Rhine winegrowing regions, measures 320 kilometres in total, making it quite an accomplishment to complete. These wine walks can be made all the more enjoyable by booking guided tours, accommodation on vineyards and packages that transfer your luggage from one place to the next.

Every year on the last weekend in April, Germany’s 13 winegrowing regions, together with the German Wine Institute, host a nationwide wine and walking weekend (WeinWanderWochenende) incorporating around 160 separate events – including small wine tastings combined with informative guided walks and wine presentations at the vineyards and inside the wineries.