This is part of our 2017 TalesOnRail Artist in Residence series, where we took two writers — one American and one Australian — through Germany and Switzerland by train. Follow along with our web series on Facebook or YouTube — new episodes air every week.
By now, we consider ourselves experts on train travel. It would be a bit worrying if we didn’t, right? But we also consider ourselves experts on a few other things…. food being one of them.
More specifically, we have pretty much perfected the art of the train picnic. What is the train picnic? It’s what happens when you realize that you are going to be on a train 1) during lunchtime and/or dinnertime, and 2) for longer than 2 hours or so, which is about how long it takes us to get hungry. So what do you do?
Well, the beautiful thing about trains is that, unlike airplanes, you’re allowed to bring onboard pretty much any type of food and, even better, beverages. So you can pack up a whole bag full of local delicacies and treat yourself to a train picnic worthy of any king or queen.
Train picnic in the Black Forest region of Germany:
- Spätzle (basically a version of pasta, one of the staple food items at any traditional Black Forest restaurant)
- Black Forest ham (the ham is smoked in a unique fashion in this part of Germany, and in fact it is so distinct and delicious that there is an entire Black Forest Ham museum located in Feldburg)
- Bretzels (Pretzels, just with a “b”) Make sure to get one of the giant, soft pretzels, not the crunchy little ones.
- Flammkuchen (thinly rolled bread dough covered with white cheese or crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and bacon or ham. Sorry to anyone on a diet.)
- Kirsch (a cherry-flavoured liquor for after dinner, before dinner, or inside a slice of Black Forest cake)
Beyond the train picnics, here are a few of the other restaurants and foods we enjoyed during our TalesOnRail trip through Germany.
Beer and Apple Wine
In Frankfurt, we were told that we absolutely had to try apple wine (apfelwien). We headed over to Apfelwien Wagner for some hearty sausage and potatoes and a big pitcher of the famous wine. Traditionally, you can water it down a bit before drinking it, and we definitely chose to do that because it was STRONG. Or maybe we are just lightweights. Either way, we enjoyed the “beer garden” vibe of this restaurant, with its long communal tables and wood-paneled walls.
And of course, when you’re in Germany, you’ve got to try the beer. One of our favorite stops was the family-owned Feierling Brewery in Freiburg, which has been in the same family for over 140 years.
St Wilhelmer Hutte Restaurant
When we were exploring Freiburg and Feldburg in the Black Forest, we got a bit hungry. Our lovely guide took us to a family-owned restaurant called St Wilhelmer Hutte that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere in the forest… in the best possible way. Such a stunning location, with trees as far as your eye can see, and we even saw some friendly cows on the drive in! The indoor seating is cozy and warm, with big tables and family photos everywhere. There is also a massive outdoor patio for sunny, warm days. (We also go to meet the family dog, who kept stopping by our table to see if we had dropped any delicious treats on the ground….)
Black Forest Cake
Ah, the cake. We were so excited about the cake and we were not let down one bit! After a very long day of travel, we were treated to a lovely boat ride on one of the most scenic lakes in the Black Forest region, Lake Titisee. And then we were treated to an even lovelier hour of relaxing lake-side with some cake and tea (and a little bit of kirsch, because Germany). Traditional Black Forest cake has several layers alternating with chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries, and then topped with more cherries and chocolate shavings. It is the BEST.
Do you have any recommendations for can’t-miss food in Germany?
(PS: check out Episode 1 of our TalesOnRail Artist in Residence series, where we travel in Germany and Switzerland by train for a week. You can find new episodes of the series published weekly on our YouTube and Facebook channels.)