Nature & hospitality
Germany's Gastro Trail
Aficionados have nicknamed the Romantic Road “Germany’s Gastro Trail”. Their reasons are many and varied, based on the fact that the 460 kilometres from Würzburg to Füssen pass through Franconia, Baden, Württemberg, Swabia and Upper Bavaria, each region with its own distinct culinary traditions. Regional specialities, seasonal snacks and culinary festivals abound along the way, with local restaurants, gourmet temples and, in summer, secluded beer gardens adding to the pleasures on offer.
At the start of the journey, in Franconia, the sausages, fried or cooked in pickling juice (called ‘Blaue Zipfel’ - ‘Blue Tails’) are a national dish not to be missed. And then there are the vintners’ own seasonal wine bars, where you will meet the locals and which serve only home-made food and the vineyard’s own wine. Also not to be missed is the classic Franconian dish called ‘Schäufele’ - pork shoulder – in one of the many cosy little authentic restaurants. Along with other regional specialities such as ‘Maultaschen’ (giant ravioli), ‘Spätzle’ (German pasta) and ‘Zwiebelkuchen Grünkern’ (onion tart with green spelt). ‘Grünkern’ or ‘green spelt’ is small spelt grains, harvested before they are fully ripened and immediately artificially dried. They provide a tasty alternative to meat. This region of the Romantic Road is also famous for carp, which is farmed in the many ponds and lakes and can be seen and tasted at numerous locations along the long-distance cycle trail. ‘Kalbshaxe’ (veal shank) is pretty much the Bavarian national dish and is eaten with the equally traditional ‘Semmelknoedel’ (bread dumplings). And for a hearty ‘Vesper’ (snack supper) one evening, don’t forget to try the ‘Obatzda’ - a soft cheese, seasoned with paprika, caraway seeds and raw onion. Once you arrive in the Allgäu, then milk becomes the major product in the culinary offer: Bergkäse’ (alpine cheese), Emmental and ‘Backsteinkäse’ (a softer cheese in the shape of a brick – from which it gets its name) give the regional ‘Kässpätzle’ (cheese-flavoured pasta) its tangy taste.