An astonishing one quarter of all Germany’s Michelin-starred restaurants are in SouthWest Germany, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. Other guide books, such as Gault Millau, also give high ratings to our chefs. The most famous gourmet destination of all is a pretty resort town in the Black Forest called Baiersbronn. Here, three restaurants share 8 Michelin stars between them! And nearby, at the Restaurant Hirschen in Sulzburg, Douce Steiner was Germany’s first woman chef to receive a second Michelin star!
But it is not just top-of-the-range restaurants that delight the food critics. SouthWest Germany also has dozens of family-run, traditional restaurants recognised with the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand. Providing good value for money, high-quality produce and great service, the Bib Gourmand is a great honor among restaurateurs. Yet again, SouthWest Germany has more of these than any other region.
With its sunny climate, eating “fresh and local” is a longstanding tradition in SouthWest Germany, where markets are full of seasonal and often organic produce. From mid-April to June, for example, the spotlight is on the Baden Asparagus Route (Badische Spargelstrasse). Watch asparagus being picked; join in the fun of asparagus festivals; eat fresh asparagus in wayside inns. Add in home-grown pork and beef, trout and lake fish and this region really is Germany’s gourmet market!
But there’s more. Do you like Pretzels? They were invented in Bad Urach, southeast of Stuttgart! What about Black Forest Cake? The real thing, tasted in the Black Forest, is a revelation! Ingredients include seriously dark chocolate and Kirsch, or cherry schnapps, made from locally picked Morello cherries. The Black Forest is also the home of Schwarzwälder Schinken, delicately-smoked Black Forest ham. Other local favorites include Zwiebelrostbraten (rib-eye steak with crispy onions), Kässpätzle (cheesy pasta), Maultaschen (Swabian-style ravioli) and Spätzle (delicate egg noodles). The freshly-baked breads, such as Kürbiskernbrot, pumpkin seed bread, are also delicious and healthy.
Good food demands good wine. Germany’s sunniest region is criss-crossed with vineyards producing light, lively and fruity wines that collect international awards. In 2013, Joachim Heger was voted Germany’s winemaker of the year. Based near Freiburg, he produces award-winning Riesling, Grauburgunder (pinot gris), Weissburgunder (pinot blanc), Silvaner and Spätburgunder (pinot noir).
Not forgetting beer. Small, local breweries are everywhere. Try an Altbier (dark beer) or a refreshing Weissbier (wheat beer). In late September/mid-October, where better to eat, drink and be merry than the 200-year-old Stuttgart Beer Festival, the second largest in Germany?