Category Archives: German food

Part II of my North German adventure…eating in, out and on the street

Here I am. Back to writing after a brief hiatus (well, crew catering in a field at Kaya Festival to be precise).  Now I’m back and here is part two of my trip to Northern Germany. This time it’s all about the food.

My North German guide was in her element feeding and cooking me local dishes and getting me to taste all kinds of strange and wonderful things. When friends heard I was visiting North Germany their standard response was ‘have a beer and currywurst for me’. Clearly that’s what our perception of German food is, but I soon discovered there is much than this. OK its true, they do like sausages and beer, and yes I did have both, although I stayed as far away from currywurst as I could! (Once experienced forever avoided). I did eat a fair bit of ham and salami, and lots of bread and cheese, but since Kiel is on the coast seafood makes up a big part of the local diet plus it was the peak of the white asparagus season so there was lots of that too.

On the first night of my stay my host excitedly cooked up the traditional white asparagus dish which consists of a rich hollandaise sauce, steamed white asparagus, new potatoes and smoked ham, which looked to me like uncooked bacon but she assured me it was the traditional way to eat it. The ham, which tasted like the Bavarian stuff back home in the UK was thickly sliced on to the plate and everything else layered on top. Plenty of heavy, buttery, artery hardening sauce coated the asparagus and potatoes and it was just heaven on a plate. We finished our meal with a tiny glass of ice-cold Kummel Schnapps, a traditional caraway flavoured schnapps to clean the palate, which was refreshing after all the richness.

Determined to recreate this at home I packed the ingredients in my suitcase and they survived the flight…

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My first meal out was at elMovenschiss a lovely little terrace restaurant overlooking the sea at Schilksee and a mere 5 kilometres from where I was staying. The food joined traditional Northern German cooking with dishes of Mediterranean influence with a heavy emphasis on seafood.

Loosely translated the name means el seagull shit and with that bit of German wit won us over. It was actually recommended to me by Shropshire supper club host Kerstin Losch (Kerstins kitchen). I trusted her. She is German and knows about food and her recommendation proved a good one.

It was a sunny evening and as the restaurant was busy and full we sat outside overlooking the marina. Folded blankets lined our seat and kept us warm as the evening drew on. I felt like an old woman with my blanket over my knees, but even the kids wrapped themselves up after they’d finished running around the beach in-between courses.

We loved the greeting page of the menu…lost in translation?

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Apart from the kids in our party (who of course chose the ubiquitous sausage or currywurst) we all ordered fish dishes and hefty portions of well cooked food arrived promptly (as one might expect in Germany!). My guide ordered a traditional Northern German dish of  herring, cream sauce potatoes and salad, while my other companion chose Zander and salmon fillet, pan-fried and served with roasted potatoes, spinach and mustard sauce. I opted for a tomateoey Mediterranean fish soup, with prawns, scallops and white fish. All were delicious and very filling.

I managed to save a little room for dessert as i’d already spotted that they had a favourite of mine on the menu, Crema Catalana. It didn’t disappoint with its perfect crispy sugar topping and beautiful orangey cream underneath. We left as the sun set over the harbour, watching the boats all lined up for the sailing event at the weekend and feeling full, but pleased with our choice.

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busy open plan kitchen…checking out portion sizes before we ordered!

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currywurst

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traditional German Fare…herring, cream sauce and potatoes

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Mediterranean fish soup

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Lights twinkling in the harbour as we prepare to leave

Saturday arrived and we headed off early to the market. The market in Kiel like the rest of Germany isn’t like the pokey little farmers markets we have in the UK. This one is huge and runs twice weekly. People come and do all their shopping, meet friends, drink coffee and generally make a day of it. Its a great place to browse, do a bit of tasting and some people watching. Here you can everything from beautiful ceramics, household goods, plants and general bric a brac to vegetables, fruit, cheese, bread, meat, cake, sweets and anything else you could want to eat. We tasted, drank coffee and cake bought a bit of everything.

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smoked fish counter at the market

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Kieler sprotten….a local speciality. Whole smoked sprats eaten head ‘an all.

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Horse butcher….sausages, salami the works…I brought some home

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White Asparagus

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all the fruit and veg stalls were busy…lots of local produce

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cheese!

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market coffee

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drinking coffee and watching the world go by…it was very busy

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salami stall

Next we wandered off past the Rathaus and Opera house to a small artisan brewery  in Kiel for lunch (yes I know, we just had coffee and cake..but I was on holiday!). The Kieler brewery only makes one beer. Kiel Beer. Nothing flash, but very nice. We indulged in a small glass and ordered a plate of cold meat (or cold cuts they call it) to share.

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cold cuts….the circle of meat on the left turned out to be raw pork…or spreading meat as my host called it. Traditionally eaten on dark rye bread with raw onion and pepper. she didn’t tell me it was raw until I’d eaten it. She said “you British are funny about that sort of thing”

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fermentation in one of the large vats

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the brewing room in the basement

Our day of food wasn’t done. Next we headed back to Danischenhagen where my hosts kids were playing in a German/Scandinavian football tournament. The first thing that caught my eye was the German ‘street food’. I thought of the greasy burger and chip vans that line British streets when football matches are on. The doughnuts, candy floss…but not here. Ok, there was a barbecue van, manned by parent voulunteers…but look what else I spotted

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fish in a bun

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lots of different types of fish in a bun…street food stall

…it might be traditional but a few kids were heard giggling and saying “eeuukk fish in a bun” …once again the German sausage ruled

ElMovenschiss can be found at….

Soling 36

24159 Schilksee

T 0431 / 888 05 14

info@elmoevenschiss.de

The Kieler Brewery can be found or contacted here……

Kieler Brauerei am Alten Markt GmbH & Co. KG
Alter Markt 9
24103 Kiel

Telephone: +49 431 – 906290
Faximile: +49 431 – 906290
E-Mail: info@kieler-brauerei.de

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Filed under Food travel, German food, photography, Travelling with kids

A brief introduction to Kiel

This is my third visit to Kiel, one the smaller German cities that sits on the coast of the Baltic sea. It’s the capital city of Schleswig-Holstein, the most northern of Germany’s sixteen states and although it’s not the most popular destination for UK tourists it is a real hub for visitors heading up from Southern Germany and those travelling over on ferries from the Scandinavian countries.

Many tourists from elsewhere in Europe miss Kiel possibly in the mistaken belief that it is either a/generally cold and not the place for a beach holiday or b/ that it is simply the gateway to Scandinavia (it has the main ferry terminal offering overnight trips to Oslo, Gottenburg and Klaipeda in Lithuania) and is very close to the Danish border. Plus its a stop off point for cruise ships travelling the Baltic countries. To think that this is all it has to offer is a long way from the truth.

Kiel may not have the most historic or beautiful buildings (it had the shit bombed out of it during the war) but it does have a rich and interesting history and an air of culture and heritage. It has always been one of the major maritime centres of Germany, home to the German Navy’s Baltic Fleet and a centre for high-tech shipbuilding (hence it becoming a target for allied bombers). It’s sailing culture remains strong as Kiel plays host to many international sailing events, these include the Kieler Woche (Kiel Week) the biggest sailing event in the World which usually takes place during the last week of June. But there are lots of smaller events popping up at one time or another throughout May and June (which is often when the weather is at its best)..in fact the weekend I visited saw a childrens festival on the harbour, a sailing festival and a kids football championship (out where I was staying)

Kiel makes a great base for exploring Northern Germany and the Baltic sea beaches, which have much to offer. There are plenty to choose from as they flank both sides of the Kieler Forde, the inlet from the Baltic that runs down to the city. All are very clean and sandy, have extremely safe waters (shallow, calm and no with big choppy waves) and are very popular with families (especially those with small kids). Of course they tend to be busy around the sailing weeks, so double-check before visiting if you don’t fancy tangling with the sailing set.

I actually stayed about 15 kilometres outside Kiel with hosts living on the West side of the Forde. The village of Danischenhagen is very convenient  for the beaches of Strande and Schilksee (only 5 kilometres), while on the East side the beaches of Monkeberg, Schoenberg and Laboe (where you can visit the Laboe Naval Memorial and the U-995; the world’s only remaining Type VII U-boat) a must-see for kids and adults alike

As the Kieler Forde opens out to the open sea more beaches line with flanked by numerous little campsites that run up and down the coastal area.

This part of Germany was once owned by Denmark (hence some of the village names) and is so close to the border that there are some similarities in the food, but whether this is due to Scandinavian influences or simply because it is so close to the sea is unclear. Whatever the influences this is a great place for seafood lovers. With regular fish markets, stalls and great restaurants there is plenty of choice.

Here are a few impressions from in and around Kiel …

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Tall ships in the harbour for a sailing festival

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Bunker 19: Left over from the war…spot the shrapnel and shell holes in this air raid bunker, turned cinema/theatre/art venue on Kiel University campus

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Sails and rigging

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13th century St. Nicholas’ church

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U-995 at Leboe

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Rathaus and the Opera House

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Sandy beach at Schilksee…you see the wicker chairs everywhere in the summer

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street food German style

Travel:

There are various cheap flights to be found if you search around. I flew Easyjet from Manchester airport.  They also fly from Gatwick and various other UK airports.

From Hamburg I travelled to Kiel by Kielius bus. It conveniently pulls up right outside Terminal 1 arrivals, and the journey ends at the main bus terminal in Kiel. It costs 19 euro one way and stops close to plenty of budget and mid priced hotels.  Basic Hotel on Muhliusstrasse has three stars and is a popular choice, but there is a greater selection of accommodation to be found here. If you prefer to book an apartment there are several in and around Kiel including two overlooking the sea at Laboe (see HouseTrip)

For those travelling onwards and into Scandinavia, ferries can be booked online or directly at the ferry terminus which is impossible to miss as its on the harbour, close to the railway station and many of the hotels.

Look out for next post which is all about FOOD!

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The perfect tea time treat-chocolate, almond and cherry cake

I’ve badgered my friend in Germany for this recipe since we returned from our holiday, she claimed it was a secret, passed on from another friend, but I knew I’d prize it from her eventually!! It is a simple cake to make but such a delight; gorgeously rich, but moist and fruity at the same time made all the better for the optional addition of a couple of tablespoons of rum.

You will need;

200g butter, 180g sugar, 4 eggs, 50g flaked almonds, 10og chocolate flakes (I guess grated chocolate would do as well, but you can get these to sprinkle on coffee and I’ve also found them online at Verde’s sold in 1kg bags), 125g plain flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 and a half teaspoons cinnamon, 1 jar of morello cherries (or in the summer you could try it with fresh pitted cherries)

Butter a 9 inch cake tin and preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

Mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix in well. Sift baking powder, flour and cinnamon together and stir into the mixture, then fold in the chocolate and almonds. Put two-thirds of the mixture into the tin then mix the cherries into the remaining third. Put that mixture on top. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes but keep an eye on it, you might need to cover the top to prevent it burning.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before sprinkling with icing sugar. Serve with cream or just as it comes with afternoon tea!

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Seasonal eating in Germany

I have to say Germany and Kiel were quite unexpected. I’ve been there before, but last time I didn’t really go looking for culinary uniqueness, it was a flying visit but this time was different. I was staying for nine days so consequently I had plenty of time to soak up the traditions, hunt for the unusual and generally eat the way the Germans do.

I’m not saying I ate out much, with five kids between us, four of them under nine and both families fairly skint, plans for expensive and elaborate dining were shelved, so we did what we always do best, cook at home, sharing ideas and preparation until we came up with a variety of hearty, wholesome home cooked dinners, using lots and  lots of local produce. I suppose it was a busman’s holiday really, lots of cooking for lots of people, interspersed during the week with three days English language teaching at Kiel University, but the experience, even the work bit, was totally enjoyable all the same. Some of my students had even googled me before I arrived and discovered my alternative foodie occupation so we spent a great time discussing that as well.

Following our trip to the market on Saturday we were well stocked for the weekend. Easter Sunday began with the obligatory Easter egg hunt followed by a late and lazy breakfast which consisted of lots of different German cheeses, meats and salami, fruit, fresh bread and coffee. This was our friends usual continental routine. During the week muesli, fruit and yogurt started the day, but of course while we were staying there were much more lazy breakfasts like this. While the sun blazed we simply sat, relaxed, ate and even managed a glass of Easter Sunday champagne. Lunch was unnecessary since breakfast ran on forever, in fact it probably only finished a couple of hours before we began to think about the barbecue we were having that evening.

In between this we drank what became known as ‘girly beer’ (basically beer, such as Becks, ready mixed with lemon or lime, or grapefruit) and the occasional cup of tea accompanied by a traditional German afternoon tea cake (cherry and chocolate).

Annette’s secret recipe chocolate and cherry cake…delicious and I’m determined to get that recipe!!

Later more friends arrived; we barbecued trout with herbs, wild garlic and lemon, some extremely phallic looking white asparagus marinated with olive oil and basil, chicken sate, ribs with a honey dressing and German sausages. For pudding the kids made Eton mess, a household favourite, with strawberries, cream and meringues.

traditional Easter bonfire...they seem to have them everywhere!

I feel almost guilty to admit that every day was much the same; fresh rolls, fruit, cheese and salami, followed by cake and a large late dinner. We tried various specialities. At the coast we had Fischbrochen basically freshly caught fish either marinated, with herbs or smoked and served in a bun with mayonnaise or a sauce and salad. I had smoked mackerel with horseradish, particularly yummy. Another night we took the kids bowling. I’ve never seen as classy a restaurant attached to a bowling alley anywhere else, ever. After a couple of games we sat down to eat. Sean decided to try another speciality currywurst. Our local friends did warn him not to choose this but he opted to ignore advice. Currywurst is basically German sausage in a tomato ketchup kind of curry sauce. It’s very popular there although Sean did proclaim that he chose unwisely, I had a taste and it was absolutely foul. Probably the kind of thing you would pick up after the pub when drunk! The kids chose a hearty portion of sausage or fish and chips, whilst the sensible adults that chose wisely went for steak, local white asparagus and a sauce of some kind. Mine came with a generous helping of light, buttery Hollandaise sauce, while one of my companions went for an unusual sounding strawberry chilli chutney. It was certainly different but unexpectedly lovely. A little hint of a chilli kick, but not too much, and still with the distinctive strawberry taste and sweetness. It accompanied the asparagus beautifully. The decent sized steak came with a generous portion of garlicky herb butter and was fantastic, succulent, full of flavour and cooked perfectly medium rare. The asparagus was tender and cooked to perfection. I couldn’t have asked for more.

the bowling alley which adjoined the restaurantThe specials board…this was definitely the list to choose from

Currywurst…the most disgusting thing eversteak with roasted vegetables and chips

white asparagus with strawberry chilli chutney

my steak and asparagus with hollandaise

We ate so much yummy stuff it’s hard to pick a favourite …spiced pork roasts with apple sauce; lasagne made with smoked speck as well as mince; a variety of cheeses and salami and of course a mountain of apple cake, lemon cake, local marzipan and beer. Of course all of that means that my souvenir from Kiel is an extra half a stone, but hey it was worth it.

All of those tastes are still running through my head, but I keep coming back to that white asparagus and hollandaise. My lasting impression that there is more to German food than meets the eye, it’s not overtly elaborate but with so many unexpected high points, discoveries of tastes and flavours, I now know that there is definitely more to German food than just beer and Bratwurst.

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