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Joe H
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A Rail Bridge In Germany
Dining For One Can Leave A Memory

For all who travel on business dinner is a special meal: a reward for surviving another day. A month ago I found myself once again in Cologne, Germany at a table for one at the Hyatt. I’ve stayed there before: it’s a modern, glass, high courtyard hotel sited on the side of the Rhein river directly across from the magnificent 13th Century cathedral, one of the few structures in the city which survived the leveling devastation of World War II. From the side of the cathedral, spanning the half mile wide river runs a rail bridge. Every two minutes a coach carrying commuters to the suburbs or travelers elsewhere along with the odd freight train passes over the Rhein. Behind this, on the far side of the river from the hotel, the sun slowly sets at ten at night.

This night, after dinner in the terrace restaurant feasting on a number of courses of spargel, the sweet white German asparagus that I have built business trips around to gorge myself on in season, I stolled outside onto the brick patio which ended at a far stone wall fronting the river. I had a glass of Argentinian Malbec, my third glass which I had saved from dinner, remembering the coming moment from last year which didn’t seem that long ago.

A dirt trail paralled the Rhein; every moment or two a lone person jogged by, occasionally a couple would stoll by, even a dog and its owner or parent from time to time would pass by. Across the river I could almost hear, almost see the distant throng in the city square that I had been a part of two hours earlier. There was an orator, a television crew, even demonstrators. But it was all in German and I hadn’t recognized any of the photos that I saw on the various signs that were pumped up and down punctuating several spirited speeches that I failed to understand. Later, in the hotel bar, I was told that workers were protesting the loss of jobs to the former Eastern bloc countries; this was a weekly event, a major topic in Cologne and elsewhere in Germany which dominated much of daily conversation.

A woman walked out onto the terrace carrying a glass of red wine. She stopped against the stone wall fronting the riverwalk several yards down from me. I watched as she set her glass on the top of the waist high wall and reached into her purse and pulled out a pack of Marlboro Lights. With her thumb and forefinger she pried a cigarette loose and put it to her lips. With her other hand she clicked a lighter and the flame touched the end of the cigarette, igniting it.

I was fascinated by this. For me there was something “more” to this, something almost reminiscent of a time seventeen years ago when I had literally stood in the middle of the Golden Gate bridge and had one of what would later be many, “last cigarettes ever.” All were Marlboro Lights.

Occasionally she sipped the glass of wine, occasionally she inhaled the cigarette. I found myself no longer watching the rail bridge or the cathedral, somehow transfixed by what I had become convinced was a seminal moment in her life. I moved over to her and asked her if she spoke English and she said “a little.” I wanted to know if there was something indeed special about this particular cigarette that she was taking her time, slowly inhaling with each pass to her lips. I even noted that each time she would look at it as she raised it to her mouth.
“Forgive me but for some reason this looks like a very special moment for you.”

Before I had even begun to attempt to explain she told me it was. “I am going to quit smoking tonight.” Tomorrow I am moving to Bremen and my boy friend does not smoke. I must quit.”

I told her that I had once done the same thing myself in America. In fact, to be honest, I had done it a number of times in America. And Italy, and also several places in Germany, too! She laughed and said that this was her first time and she was going to do it. We talked for a bit and then she placed her glass of wine on the top of the wall. She told me that she wasn’t going to drink anymore and offered me the rest of it. It was a Malbec that was really good, she said. I thanked her, appreciative of her offer and smiled because I had just finished my own glass of Malbec.

At some point I looked back towards the rail bridge and the Rhein and the magnificent towering cathedral on the far side. The sun had set and I could hear the distant rumble of a train passing slowly over the river. The demonstration was over, the plaza must have been emptying. I had been transfixed, even lost in the quiet beauty of this moment. I looked over at my German “friend” and discovered that she was gone. Behind me a couple was walking onto the terrace, laughing and holding hands. Her half filled glass was still there. As was her half empty pack of American cigarettes. The same brand that I once smoked. The same brand that I had once left behind on a bridge in San Francisco.

It was time for me to leave, I was one night closer to coming home. But this time I had not just the memory of the river and the trains and the church. I remember the German girl who I was with when she had her last cigarette ever.

I wonder if she ever had another. I know I didn't.



Joe Heflin

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A Rail Bridge In Germany

Dining For One Can Leave A Memory

Wonderful post Joe, not only on dining alone, but on the pleasures of that part of Germany. I lived for four years in Bonn and could picture your scene perfectly.

My last truly great experience dining alone was also in Germany, at Tantris in Munich. Unfortunately, it did not involve an intriguing woman on a terrace, but it did include three hours of perfect food, perfect service, and a 1986 Mission Haut Brion.

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My husband and I are thinking about where to go on our next vacation. One idea is to go to Berlin and Prague, and possibly going through Munich on the way home. Does anyone have any food advice? My knowledge of German food is somewhat limited, but I hear that there is good food to be had. I have been to Prague, so I know that the food there can be limited. Either way, I know we would drink well in all three cities.

cheers (Prost) in advance.

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Berlin; Schwarzwald (Black Forest); Munich

Both Berlin and Prague are beautiful cities, well worth exploring. There is also an area of Germany known as the Schwarzwald ("Black Forest") that includes several of the country's and one of the world's best restaurants, Schwarzwaldstube at Traube Tonbach. This is their website: http://www.traube-tonbach.de/traube_1024/t...l/home/home.htm Schwarzwaldstube has three Michelin stars and is considered the best restaurant in Germany. It IS on par with anything in Paris (yes, I've eaten at Paris' best) and has almost a one year wait to get in. It is worth the wait. This is a post of mine from another board about dinner there:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/intl/messages/32412.html

Nearby is another extraordinary restaurant, the two Michelin star, Bareiss: http://www.bareiss.com/engl/philo/index.htm

I would add that most Americans have absolutely no idea what really good German food tastes like; or for that matter, is. While Bareiss and Schwarzwaldstube are more "French" than German in many ways, the better German restaurants are far superior to any imitation of them on this side of the Atlantic. For instance the spargel season starts in a month or so. German white asparagus is one of the great vegetables/dishes of the world. Sweeter than the white asparagus available in America; just a delicious and traditional dish that lends itself to festivals and celebrations, most of which include multiple ways in which it is prepared. As for the Schwarzwald, it is easily among the most beautiful countryside on earth, comparable to anything in Austria or nearby Switzerland. I cannot rave enough about this part of Germany; perhaps for natural beauty the equal of anywhere on earth. It is truly beautiful, perhaps storybook like and almost undiscovered by Americans-a fantasyland worth building the trip of a lifetime around. Go to Munich: for dinner go to Tantris and reserve at least a month or more in advance. This is their website:

http://www.tantris.de/englisch/aufbau.htm

Go to Berlin, perhaps also Lubeck, Nurenberg, Meissen, Heibelberg and Baden. But the most beautiful part of Germany or any European country is the Schwarzwald. Go to it and stay at Bareiss or Traube Tonbach. Just know that this is heaven for most Germans and the lifetime ambition to visit for many of them.

Prague, Vienna, Salzburg-there are so many extraordinary places to visit in this part of Europe. For me, perhaps jaded from so many years of travel in so many countries, the Schwarzwald is equal or superior to all of them.

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Berlin; Munich; Dresden

My husband and I are thinking about where to go on our next vacation. One idea is to go to Berlin and Prague, and possibly going through Munich on the way home. Does anyone have any food advice? My knowledge of German food is somewhat limited, but I hear that there is good food to be had. I have been to Prague, so I know that the food there can be limited. Either way, I know we would drink well in all three cities.

cheers (Prost) in advance.

I second Joe's response, especially regarding Tantris. When in Munich you must go there, or you will not have experienced just how great "German" cooking can be.

Berlin has countless places to explore, from the hip and bohemian to the grand and traditional. Ask people in your neighborhood for a good Kneipe; Berlin truly is a city of neighborhoods.

If you've already been to Prague, why not skip it this time around and go to Dresden, which is only a short and pleasant train trip from Berlin? They've just finished rebuilding the Frauenkirche, one of Europe's great architectural wonders. (Of course, Dresden and Prague are so close you might want to visit both of them anyway.)

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Solingen

I am going there next week with business nearby. Has anyone been to Solingen before? This is where virtually all of the knives are made in Germany with a number of manufacturers having been in the business for generations. Arguably the finest knives in the world (with respect to Laguiole and Japan) come from some of these craftsmen, such as Hugo Pott and Carl Mertens both of which are almost impossible to find outside of Germany. Flugel ONLY makes knife sharpeners, some which are virtual works of art.

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I'm in Germany for a few weeks in May, spending some time in Berlin, Freiberg, Cologne, Dresden, Bonn, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt. Any suggestions in addition to those already in this thread on german cuisine, mid-priced restaurants not to be missed, or just good neighborhoods for bar-hopping would be appreciated. I would love to find a unique restaurant in Berlin that has bar dining and is open late, for instance. It's my first time to Germany so I'm pretty clueless as to where to go.

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Koln; Heidelberg; the Schwarzwald; Freiburg; Dusseldorf; Frankfurt

I just returned (literally this afternoon) from Koln, Heidelberg, the Schwarzwald and Freiburg. Freiburg is a really interesting city, especially for students. I think you'll find it friendly and a real adventure to explore. If you are serious about the dinner of a lifetime and have a rental car try to get a reservation at Schwarzwaldstube in Baiersbronn. This has three Michelin stars and, arguably, is the best restaurant in Germany. It is in the middle of the Black Forest (aka the Schawarzwald). Regardless, you really should rent a car or a bike and get lost in the Schwarzwald: it IS one of the most beautiful places on earth virtually unknown by Americans by the summer fantasy of many Germans for a vacation.

Koln. Again, I stayed at the Hyatt on the far side of the railroad bridge. I also walked both shores of the Rhein each day for several days. Both days were 75 degrees or so and unbelievably crowded with people. So many that you couldn't jog-only walk. If you have a chance go to the Hyatt and have dinner in the restaurant on the second floor. It's casual-you could go with jeans. BUT ORDER THE RISOTTO WITH SPARGEL. It is a GREAT dish, one of the absolute best risottos I have ever had. Euro nine for a half portion, sixteen for a full but worth every bit.

Dusseldorf has the best cutlery/knife shop in Germany: Boergermann. It is in the Alstadt and owned by the six generation of a family. This generation is all female and they are incredibly knowledgeable with at least two of them speaking unaccented, perfect English. Well worth a visit-you won't find anything like this in America. Or elsewhere in Germany for that matter.

There is also a great Italian restaurant in Dusseldorf. It is famous and across the river from the Alstadt. At least five or six hundred years old with beamed ceilings, stone walls and food equal to the best of Verona or Siena. I can find its name if you are serious about going there. You will also have to reserve seveal days or more in advance-it is very popular. Entrees in the range of Euro 15-20, fairly priced wine.

Frankfurt is a wasteland but Heidelberg is one of Germany's most beautiful medium size cities and well worth exploring. There is an excellent "student" restaurant called Hemingway's adjacent to the Rhein with outdoors tables and seriously good prices. Homemade pasta, homemade everything for that matter and good, cheap wine and beer. If you go there my credibility will be intact. I had dinner there 48 hours ago and already miss it.

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When I have time I am going to post a lengthy report on this trip: I went to the Zwilling Henkel factory and they have an enormous factory store there that carries their complete line along with the complete line of Rosle and Carl Mertens. In addition they have an extensive stock of their inventory at about 40% off-I believe this is their only "outlet" in the world. Well worth a detour from Dusseldorf or Cologne.

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I travel in Germany 25 or more days each year throughout the entire country; I've done this for over 20 years and am just as obsessed in eating when I am there as I am here. The better "traditional" German restaurants there are far superior to even the "best" German restaurants here. For that matter most Americans have no idea just how good "traditional" German food can be. Especially spargel. Beyond traditional Germany has several restaurants which rival the best three stars in Paris (Schwarzwaldstube in Baiersbronn-a fantastically beautiful village in the mountains of the Black Forest which also has the excellent Bareiss, Dieter Muller outside of Cologne. I compare these two to Pierre Gagnaire, Ducasse and Le Cinq and believe they are equal). But I've never seen even an article in print here about either of these ethereal German restaurants. I've had Black Forest cake (heavy whipped cream that is richer, "fuller", cherries soaked in alcohol, more moist and densely rich cake) in the Schwarzwald at a roadside stand that made the Heidelberg Bakery or Randolph's taste like Li'l Debbie, wiener schnitzel at Beck's in Bremen (a better "traditional" restaurant) more tender, more flavorful, far superior to the Bavarian Chef, Bavarian Inn or Old Europe. Bratwurst on rye buns with mittlescharf (medium hot) deli mustard at walk up stands on the Monckeburgstrasse in Hamburg or either of the historic (500 + years old) restaurants in Nurnberg only underscore why Germany is known for this.

Austria? I was in Walter Bauer in Vienna only a couple of months ago. Seven or eight tables and outstanding. I posted on here about the seeded bread and buns at a large gourmet market in the center of their town. I've looked for this here and can't find anything close anywhere.

I just wish more Americans could experience some of what I have. It just won't be found on this side of the Atlantic. (Although several places in Cincinnati and Milwaukee have brats that are pretty close...) As much as we like Wegman's or the Central Markets in Texas the larger department stores in Germany have incredible, expansive markets which Wegman's is modelled after along with similar "food halls" in England, France and Spain. Karstadt does a particularly good job in Germany along with several others. Galeries Lafayette and Harrod's have international reputations for their "food halls" in Paris and London. The largest Berlin, Munich and Hamburg stores are their equals.

We do a good, a great job with Italian, French and many other cuisines. Germany and Austria are two that we have never given justice or recognition to.

Sorry for my rant...

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Joe H - thanks for the Hyatt recommendation in Koln. Any other places in Koln that you can recommend? My friend and I will be going there for one night and would love to have some good "home" cooking.

Also - does anyone have recommendations for Muenster?

Thanks!

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Koln

I typically hate hotel restaurants spending far too many nights in hotels and wanting to get away from them-even if it is only for dinner. Still, I really like this particular Hyatt, in large part because of its location at the foot of the rail bridge across the Rhein with the magnificent Koln cathedral on the far side. I stay there twice a year-one night each time-and it has become something of a tradition for me to have dinner and walk outside with a glass of wine and watch trains cross the river. There are two restaurants in the hotel, one more formal than the other. The one I prefer is the restaurant directly at the top of the stairs. Although they have an excellent pianist, it is more casual. But quite civilized, if you will. Dieter Muller is one of Germany's best restaurants, a Michelin three star outside of Koln. Although I have walked all over the city and tried quite a few places over the years it is only the Hyatt restaurant which I recommend. If you do go, the little essay I wrote at the top of this thread happened there. It is truly a special place.

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Berlin

Berlin report:

Wonderful - I mean amazingly wonderful - schnitzel at Markthalle in Kreuzberg. The jaegerschnitzel is the best option. Also, breakfast until 5pm.

http://www.weltrestaurant-markthalle.de/de/index.php?s=1

Semi Lasso - relaxed and decent Italian across the street from Markthalle. Reasonable prices, fresher and more variety of vegetables than most Berlin restaurants.

http://www.semi-lasso.de/menue.php

Cafe Einstein - one of the few decent and not expensive places in the sea of central government office buildings. Politicians, artists, writers, and the host knows everyone.

http://www.cafeeinstein.com/home.php

Meliá Tapas - I thought Moto would be the worst contemporary Spanish gastronomy-inspired meal I'd ever have. Wrong!

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Koln (Cologne)

The one I prefer is the restaurant directly at the top of the stairs. Although they have an excellent pianist, it is more casual. But quite civilized, if you will.

We're flying in and out of Cologne in May. Our last night will be our travelling companions' anniversary and this sounds like a nice spot to celebrate it. I checked the hotel website - is this the place you mean? "Schälsick Bar and Terrace"
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Koln (Cologne)

We're flying in and out of Cologne in May. Our last night will be our travelling companions' anniversary and this sounds like a nice spot to celebrate it. I checked the hotel website - is this the place you mean? "Schälsick Bar and Terrace"

No, that is the pub which is just off the lobby. "Glashaus" is the name of the restaurant at the top of the steps. When you make a reservation ask for a table by the window. Alternatively, "La Vision" has a Michelin star and is located in this hotel:
www.hotel-im-wasserturm.de which is nearby. When you click on this website look at the photo at the top which shows the bridge in the foreground and the Cathedral on the far side. THIS is the view from the Hyatt AND this hotel and restaurant, too. Both are outstanding. Additionally, Cologne has a bistro that I swear is the equal of any in Paris: Le Moissonnier. Gault Millau gives it 18 (out of 20) and is their highest rated restaurant in Cologne. http://www.gaultmillau.de/suche/detail.cfm?rid=7059 is in German but you can use Babelfish for a rough translation. ( http://babelfish.altavista.com/ ) These are the first five words of the Babelfish translation: "Customs in Germany's best Bistro..." It IS excellent and they speak excellent English both in the restaurant and on the phone.

Cologne is also one of the three cities in Germany that has one of the most unique and adventurous restaurants anywhere: http://www.unsicht-bar.com/ This is a restaurant where you dine totally in the dark and are served by, I believe, blind staff. I have never been but I have heard that it is an extraordinary experience. These are some excellent photos that help give perspective for the experience: http://www.unsicht-bar.com/presse/html/pressefotos.html Note the waitstaff dressed entirely in black, diners being led-with hands on the shoulder of the person in front of each-into the room, the arrangement of food on the plate with the numerical clock like arrangement (feeling the number leads you to the corresponding food). This is a good review in English: http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_direc...cfm?blog_id=138
The Unsicht Bar was so successful when it opened in 2001 that it led to two more in Germany and spawned imitations in other European cities including London which is mentioned in this article.

My wife and I are actually going to be in Cologne for Valentine's Day in three weeks and we're staying at the Hyatt. Our Valentine's Day dinner is at Le Moissonnier ( www.lemoissonnier.de ) with late drinks in the pub you mentioned where, more than likely, we'll walk outside and watch a few trains cross the bridge after dark. The next night we'll have dinner in Glashaus. Only reason for Le Moissonnier is that the food is superb. Glaushaus is good, too, but overall a step below. Still, if you are going in May try to have the spargel (asparagus) risotto at Glaushaus. It is outstanding, one of the best I have had anywhere.

You'll love the setting of this hotel. One of the most picturesque views of anywhere on earth, looking out over the Rhein at the Cathedral on the far side with the railbridge in the foreground.
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Swartzwald (Black Forest); Koln (Cologne); Stuttgart

A number of dinners last week in Germany confirmed:

1. Schwarzwaldstube is, indeed, one of the best restaurants in the world. Bareiss has nicer rooms in Baiersbronn than Traube Tonbach, however.
2. The 40 seat Le Moissonnier in Cologne (reserve one MONTH in advance for Friday and Saturday (( http://www.lemoissonnier.de/ ) really is the equal to any bistro I have been to in Paris, with as much character as any.
3. Stuttgart has an excellent Italian restaurant, Olivo, near the city center.
4. One of the most enchanting wineries I have ever been to is in a medevil castle about 30 miles southeast of Heidelberg, www.burg-hornberg.de . Well worth the detour.
5. "Karnival" in Cologne is easily as large, spectacular and slovenly, garishly drunken as the French Quarter before Katrina. 200,000+ people on Thursday night and over one million for Monday's parade rival Rio-remarkably, virtually unheard of in America.
6. Various wursts (brat, curry, etc.) cooked on a grill directly over a six foot wide open wood fire blow away anything I have ever had on this side of the Atlantic and I don't care what restauant/joint you can tell me about in Milwaukee or Chicago.
7. Sicily really does have very good wine: 2002 Spadafora which retails there for E 25 and here, if you can find it, for about $40.

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A number of dinners last week in Germany confirmed:

1. Schwarzwaldstube is, indeed, one of the best restaurants in the world. Bareiss has nicer rooms in Baiersbronn than Traube Tonbach, however.

2. The 40 seat Le Moissonnier in Cologne (reserve one MONTH in advance for Friday and Saturday (( http://www.lemoissonnier.de/ ) really is the equal to any bistro I have been to in Paris, with as much character as any.

3. Stuttgart has an excellent Italian restaurant, Olivo, near the city center.

4. One of the most enchanting wineries I have ever been to is in a medevil castle about 30 miles southeast of Heidelberg, www.burg-hornberg.de . Well worth the detour.

5. "Karnival" in Cologne is easily as large, spectacular and slovenly, garishly drunken as the French Quarter before Katrina. 200,000+ people on Thursday night and over one million for Monday's parade rival Rio-remarkably, virtually unheard of in America.

6. Various wursts (brat, curry, etc.) cooked on a grill directly over a six foot wide open wood fire blow away anything I have ever had on this side of the Atlantic and I don't care what restauant/joint you can tell me about in Milwaukee or Chicago.

7. Sicily really does have very good wine: 2002 Spadafora which retails there for E 25 and here, if you can find it, for about $40.

Stop. You're making me (second)homesick. :o

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Munich

Seeking restaurant advice, from beer gardens to haute cuisine. Any recommendations appreciated-- thanks!

I haven't been to Salzburg in decades, but when in Munich go to "Tantris" for your "haute cuisine" experience: magnificent, creative cooking in an eccentric but elegant setting, with immaculate service. www.tantris.de
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Munich

The best restaurant in Munich is Tantris http://www.tantris.de/cms/ Two Michelin stars, expensive and outstanding. At a minimum on par with Citronelle and CityZen, perhaps reminiscent of both for style. Their website has photos: it's somewhat over the top but well worth going out of your way to visit. Reserve at least two weeks in advance. It is enormously popular.

I've eaten my way through Vienna if you need any recs there (Walter Bauer is a real favorite and Julius Meihl is one of the great grocery stores in the world). I believe Don has eaten his way through Salzburg.

Whatever you do eat bread in Germany and Austria. Especially seeded and nutty bread. I believe that the best bread in the world is not in France or Italy but (horrors!) in Germany and Austria. In Salzburg go out of your way to find Alois Kracher dessert wines (the higher the number the sweeter they are). They will range up to E 95 in price but are among the best in the world.

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Munich

Are there any signature dishes in either city? Besides the bread as Joe H has recommended and I'm assuming sausage.

What time of year are you going? Addressing Munich only:

Of the sausage styles particular to Munich, probably the most famous is weisswurst, a veal sausage which is brought to the table in a tureen of warm water, and normally eaten for breakfast. The proper beverage accompaniment, naturally, is beer - a hefe-Weissbier, a light, citrusy, cloudy and yeasty wheat beer. Unlike wheat beers from northern Germany, Bavarian weissbier is never served with a piece of lemon.

My favorite roast pork dish ever is schweinshaxen, a pork hock roasted for hours on a rotisserie. They're normally stacked in the roaster so the fat cooking out of the upper skewers is allowed to baste the lower ones, resulting in a completely crispy exterior over tender meat on-the-bone. It's so insanely rich that the locals only eat it infrequently, but it's worth seeking out while you're there. My efforts to find even a half-credible version in the US have been complete failures so far - none have been even remotely close in texture, although I'm holding out some hope for trying the Schmankerl Stube in Hagerstown since they only offer it if ordered a day in advance.

As Joe says, Bavarian bread is excellent. The crusty little rolls known as semmln are ubiquitous, and great to nosh on any time of day. The pretzels make even good Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels pale in comparison, and are eaten with Senf, a sweet mustard style peculiar to the region (also used on weisswurst). I'm also crazy about Bavarian butter, which in my book is almost-but-not-quite as good as Irish.

Prosit!
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Koln (Cologne)

Just returned from a 2-week European odyssey (Cologne, Prague, Italy, Lisbon) last evening and celebrated our travelling companions' anniversary at the Glashaus restaurant in the Cologne Hyatt on Monday night. We really lucked out on our trip timing because asparagus was in season everywhere. The day we arrived in Cologne on the outbound portion, they were celebrating "White Asparagus Week," so we duly ate it in many delicious guises. On our way home, Monday night, I had an asparagus cream soup with morels which was simply sublime, followed by asparagus risotto with brook trout. The risotto was excellent but no equal to the variation I'd eaten 5 days earlier in Milan (not surprising). My husband had white asparagus as a main course that came with dishes of both clarified butter and Hollandaise on the side and a selection of sliced hams. Quite wonderful! Both the food and the setting of the Glashaus were delightful. Thanks Joe H for the recommendation!

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Anyone heard of the Kommoedchen Restaurant in Karlsruhe? I'm encouraged when I Google it and see a long string of 5-star ratings, but the reviews are all in German, and while I can usually figure out menus in German, I'm not really close to fluency.

The hotel concierge recommends it very highly, so I asked her to make reservations for when I arrive, but it would be nice to get a better idea of what to expect.

Wayne Rash

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Karlsruhe; Weingarten


Anyone heard of the Kommoedchen Restaurant in Karlsruhe? I'm encouraged when I Google it and see a long string of 5-star ratings, but the reviews are all in German, and while I can usually figure out menus in German, I'm not really close to fluency.

The hotel concierge recommends it very highly, so I asked her to make reservations for when I arrive, but it would be nice to get a better idea of what to expect.

Wayne Rash

Their website says it's a family run restaurant that accommodates about 30 people. The menu strikes me as typical for a mid-level restaurant in Germany, with slightly varied takes on old standards (Venison goulash; Zander filet with horseradish-apple sauce, etc). It will probably be a pleasant but unremarkable meal.

Instead, if you have a car, I suggest you drive about 30 minutes outside of Karlsruhe to my wife's hometown of Weingarten, which happens to be the locale for one of the best restaurants in the area: Walk'sches Haus
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Their website says it's a family run restaurant that accommodates about 30 people. The menu strikes me as typical for a mid-level restaurant in Germany, with slightly varied takes on old standards (Venison goulash; Zander filet with horseradish-apple sauce, etc). It will probably be a pleasant but unremarkable meal.

Instead, if you have a car, I suggest you drive about 30 minutes outside of Karlsruhe to my wife's hometown of Weingarten, which happens to be the locale for one of the best restaurants in the area: Walk'sches Haus

Unfortunately, I'm depending on public transportation for this trip. The restaurant has the advantage of being a 3-minute walk from the hotel. My guess is that 30 minutes is too far for a cab ride.

This particular visit will be train-only, including breakfast in the DB BordRestaurant on the way to Munich. I'm told that this will be better than breakfast on Amtrak.

Wayne Rash

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Unfortunately, I'm depending on public transportation for this trip. The restaurant has the advantage of being a 3-minute walk from the hotel. My guess is that 30 minutes is too far for a cab ride.

This particular visit will be train-only, including breakfast in the DB BordRestaurant on the way to Munich. I'm told that this will be better than breakfast on Amtrak.

Wayne Rash

Not that Amtrak is much of a standard, but yes, it will definitely be better. Having a meal in the Bord-Restaurant while watching the scenery fly by is one of my favorite things to do in Germany.

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Karlsruhe; ICE train; Durlach


Not that Amtrak is much of a standard, but yes, it will definitely be better. Having a meal in the Bord-Restaurant while watching the scenery fly by is one of my favorite things to do in Germany.


So we went to Kommoedchen Restaurant in Karlsruhe. It was a short walk from the Renaissance hotel, which was a good thing, given the weather. The hotel staff had alerted the restaurant that we were celebrating our anniversary, and they went to a lot of extra effort to make the visit nice. The table was scattered with rose petals, they brought us a few things before dinner as gifts from the chef in addition to the usual amuse. My wife had the venison goulash with spaetzel. I had a seared duck breast with red cabbage and potato dumplings. The duck was done perfectly with crisp skin and pink in the middle. The dumplings were somehow very light and also al dente. The restaurant provided a nice Spanish red (which I've forgotten - jet lag strikes).

The service was attentive, I think we had three waiters. It wasn't a Michelin 3-star, but it was very good. I'd recommend it, and I'd go back there again in a heartbeat.

We also had breakfast on the BordRestaurant on the ICE between Stuttgart and Munich. As meals on trains go, this was very good, and much better than on Amtrak. The attendant said that she made it a point to cook the breakfast on top of the stove instead of microwaving it because she thought the results were better. It was indeed a new favorite thing - watching Germany go by at 200 MPH while dining in white-tablecloth comfort. I'd do that again in a heartbeat.

One other culinary adventure was the Christmas market in Durlach. This is a medieval town, and they play that fact up. You can find people making armor, selling swords, etc. Think of the Renaissance Festival, but in a really old town. As is traditional in German Christmas markets, we had a choice of things to eat, with most of the stands serving that historic German favorite, "Pizza." We looked instead for sausages while also drinking a few cups of Glühwein here and there. What we found was a stand with a very large, coal-burning grill serving a variety of sausages. The bratwurst there is about a foot long, and served as seems to be the case everywhere in Germany, in a french dinner roll so you have about four inches of sausage sticking out on each side. They put mustard on that.

We also discovered a form of fried bread called lango, which can be had as a meal vaguely like a pizza, or as a dessert with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. It's about the size of a French Bread Pizza, and deliciously bad for you.

Oh. And they serve draft beer on the ICE trains.

Wayne Rash
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So we went to Kommoedchen Restaurant in Karlsruhe...

It sounds like you had a wonderful time, and you make me look all the more forward to being there for Christmas. We'll be in the same area you were: Karlsruhe, Weingarten (my wife's hometown), Durlach.

They started serving draft beer on the trains in the early 1990s, if I recall. It's so gratifying to spend time in a country with good infrastructure.

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Anyone have any recent experience in Frankfurt?  Hubby spends tons of time there for work, and I am going to visit in a couple of weeks.  He basically doesn't leave the office when he's there, so he's no help in terms of restaurants/bars or fun things to do.  We'll be together for basically 3 full days.

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1 hour ago, bettyjoan said:

Anyone have any recent experience in Frankfurt?  Hubby spends tons of time there for work, and I am going to visit in a couple of weeks.  He basically doesn't leave the office when he's there, so he's no help in terms of restaurants/bars or fun things to do.  We'll be together for basically 3 full days.

When I flew into Frankfurt, the first thing I did was drive to Heidelberg (I know that's not much help), but oh, the beer (and it's only an hour).

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Freising, Bavaria

On the way home from India we had a 10 hour layover at the Munich Airport and decided to take a little day trip in Bavaria.  The hillside town of Freising is a short 10-15 minute drive from the airport.  The main street is super quaint with bakeries, chocolate stores, several butchers, and what seemed like an unusual number of pharmacies and opticians.

Our flight arrived at 5:30 am local time and left at 3:30 pm.  Our grand plan was to have breakfast at a bakery, tour the Freising Cathedral, visit the adjoining museum, have lunch and head back to the airport.  Turned out the cathedral didn't open until 12:30pm that day and the museum was closed for renovation.  So like lost tourists we wandered the streets.  Fortunately there was enough window shopping and bakeries to kill a couple of hours.  

Two places that are must visits:  the beautiful Andreas Muschler Chocolaterie & Patisserie and the delicious Weissbrau Huber, which serves excellent Weisswurste and killer rosti marzling (potato hashbrowns with spinach and fried egg).  Seriously this place was putting out some amazing looking plates of food in a Bavarian pub-like atmosphere.  I kinda didn't want to leave.

We went back to the Cathedral at 12:30 sharp and were told that in fact the Cathedral was closed for cleaning and wouldn't open until 2:30.  This was of course told to us by the same person who earlier had told us to come back at 12:30.  We put on our best indignant you-told-us-to-come-back-at-12:30 faces and the cleaning woman took pity.  She ended up giving us a private tour.  Definitely worth the hassle, the cathedral, while quite plain on the outside, is known for its wonderful rococo interior.  

Freising is also home to the 500 year old Weihenstephan Brewery.   

Travel tips:  the cab ride from the Airport was about 25 euros, the bus back to the airport was 5 euros.  The bus stop at Terminal 2 was next to the cab line, so if you're going to Freising take the bus (service every 15 minutes).   

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