Austria Europe Food Germany International Travel Toddler Travel Trip Reports

Bavarian Summer: Food in Germany and Austria

Home cooked meals provided a nice break
Home cooked meals provided a nice break

It has now come time for me to write the “food post.” I was considering not writing one, but some loyal readers (read: 2) requested it and who am I to turn them down!? Here are some of the types of foods we ate – and I’ve made note to highlight some of our most memorable culinary experiences as well.

Pretzels, Beer, and Wine

Let’s start out with some of the lighter stuff. Germany is home to many, many pretzels. You can find them on every street corner, every pub, even in some restaurants. I would not say that the pretzels are amazing – but they are solid and I averaged one per day during our time in Germany (they weren’t as readily available in Austria).

Next level fly prevention techniques
Next level fly prevention techniques

Obviously Germany is pretty famous for their beer. While we weren’t visiting during Oktoberfest or anything like that, beer was everywhere and was a staple of almost every meal. Unfortunately, I don’t know too much about beer, my buddy over at A Pint Half Full would be able to do a much better analysis of what I drank. I stuck mostly to the hefeweizens or “weissbiers” – wheat based stuff.

I also bought a few bottles of monk beer – I guess back in the day there was a lot of monastery brewing. I wasn’t too impressed with those.

Besides pretzels there are lots of other baked goods to be had
Besides pretzels there are lots of other baked goods to be had

In Austria we had a lot more wine than beer. Austria is a major produce of Gruner Veltliner, a type of white grape – we drank that almost exclusively. It’s nothing super complicated or refined, but a great wine to drink with a meal. I wish I could describe it but I’m not wired like that – but from Wikipedia: “Master of Wine Jancis Robinson notes that Grüner Veltliner is usually produced dry with spicy, peppery notes. It is often full-bodied and with age can take on aromas and flavors similar to white Burgundies.” So there you have it!

I love me some Gruner
I love me some Gruner

Main Courses

There were some pretty staple dishes that we had over and over again, so I just thought I’d talk about them here.

I, um, ate a significant number of these
I, um, ate a significant number of these

Sausages and Wursts

These are ubiquitous. M loved them after we peeled off the skin so we ate some type of sausage almost every single day. There are small wursts, thick wursts, wursts filled with cheese, spicy ones – if you can think of it – it probably exists. In Germany the bratwursts were often served with a dollop of mustard on the side and french fries, so you know I liked it. My recommendation – if you eat meat just try them all until you get sick of them – and just don’t think too much about how the sausage is made.

Kasekrainer, Vienna's version of a cheese dog
Kasekrainer, Vienna’s version of a cheese dog

A special shout out to the Kasekrainer, a special type of sausage cooked with cubes of cheese inside of it. So it’s like a cheese dog, except the cheese is INSIDE. Crazy.

Hearty Food

Ribs work in any country
Ribs work in any country

A lot of Bavarian food consisted of hearty meats – stewed beef, roasted duck, etc. It was like people just hunted wild animals and cooked them for dinner. Well, it felt like that it least. A lot of the dishes came with thick brown gravies and large potato balls. I thought I’d like the potato balls more but they were a bit too sticky and chewy for my liking.

Roast duck with the standard potato dumplings
Roast duck with the standard potato dumplings

Another big thing in Bavaria is the Schweinshaxe, or pork knuckle. This thing looks crazy and generally comes with a gigantic knife stabbed into it. I’m not sure if we ordered it at the wrong places, but I found that it generally looked better than it tastes (often too salty and I am an American when it comes to how salty I like my food). The fried skin was also too tough for my liking (I’m more used to fried duck or pork skin). Still, I think if you’re in Bavaria you have to try this.

The pork knuckle is not for the faint of heart
The pork knuckle is not for the faint of heart

Vegetables, as always in Europe, seemed a bit hard to come by – though the salads in Germany and Austria seemed more like “American” salads. It feels like whenever we order salad in Italy we get like pasta salad with only a tiny bit of vegetables or something. We finally started ordering roasted vegetables with like every meal because we were getting sick of potato based starches.

Consomme with a large dumpling in it
Consomme with a large dumpling in it

Bavaria also featured a lot of great soups – mainly beef broths and consommes with large dumplings inside of them. In Austria, a lot of these times these soups would come with “pancakes”, strips of egg that are kind of like thick crepes. Apparently back in the day they’d take leftover dessert crepes and throw them in the soup the next day. Here’s a recipe if you’re interested – that stuff was GOOD.

Schnitzel

Schnitzels deserve their own category – as I understand it, schnitzel basically means any meat that you pound thin and deep fry. Again, if you’re not vegetarian – how could you go wrong with this? There were tons of versions of this.

Wienerschnitzel, the classic, is veal that has been pounded thin and deep fried. I find that it tastes tougher than veal normally does, which makes me question why they even need to use veal in the first place (I generally don’t eat veal).

Deep fried meat and potatoes - Bavaria in a picture
Deep fried meat and potatoes – Bavaria in a picture

Schweineschnitzel is pork – think chicken fried chicken but with pork instead. I generally preferred that.

The best wienerschnitzel we had was in Vienna in a place called Plachutta’s. In fact, that was one of the best meals we had period along with Gastof zum Neuhaus in Berchtesgaden.

You can get this stuff anywhere and everywhere
You can get this stuff anywhere and everywhere

Tafelspitz

The most unique thing we had to eat was Tafelspitz which is considered to be the national dish of Austria which we also had Plachutta’s. It was a pretty cool production and worth going into detail.

The Tafelspitz starts with the beef still in a bowl and a soup (the third thing is fried potatoes)
The Tafelspitz starts with the beef still in a bowl and a soup (the third thing is fried potatoes)

Tafelspitz is essentially boiled beef – but it’s boiled for a long time along with the bone marrow. The soup absorbs a lot of the flavors. You start your meal by drinking the soup. You can ask for a bowl with nothing in it, with pancake, or with Austrian dumplings.

The beef is presented on your plate after you finish the soup
The beef is presented on your plate after you finish the soup

After you finish drinking the soup, you put the bowl aside indicating to your server that you are ready for the next course. They then come and take the meat and bone marrow out of the bowl and plate it for you so that you can eat it. There are plenty of vegetables in the broth as well.

An up close look at the potatoes, my favorite part (are you surprised?)
An up close look at the potatoes, my favorite part (are you surprised?)

Overall, Tafelspitz is a huge meal and we all pitched in to help Jess finish it. It looked amazing though and I wish we had gotten to order it more than once on our trip. I only seem to recall seeing it on the menu in Vienna, though.

IMG_3999

Dessert

Vienna is pretty serious about their coffee
Vienna is pretty serious about their coffee

Obviously, we ate a lot of gelato. I was surprised out how good the gelato was out there, there are a lot of stalls run by Italian immigrants and their stuff is legit. I’ve already shown tons of gelato pictures throughout the rest of this trip report so I’ll hold off on too many here.

Jess - "Best strudel ever"
Jess – “Best strudel ever”

Jess is the dessert expert, and she was constantly saying that she hadn’t realized how seriously Germans and Austrians take their desserts. We had a ton of cake and apple strudel in Bavaria – though we did not once have a Black Forest cake. Guess we’ll have to hit up western Germany for that someday. Vienna took desserts to the next level – it almost felt like Paris with the number of cafes lining the streets serving dessert.

Iced Chocolate at Cafe Tomaselli (where Mozart supposedly bought chocolate)
Iced Chocolate at Cafe Tomaselli (where Mozart supposedly bought chocolate)

Of particular note was Cafe Tomaselli in Salzburg and Demel in Vienna. We had some great ice cream at the former and an amazing chocolate torte at the latter.

Ritter Sport
59 cents for each Ritter. Still can’t get over it!

Finally, you can’t leave Germany without having some chocolate. From the Lufthansa first class cabin to the supermarket, chocolate is everywhere. We bought 12+ Ritter Sports. That’s probably all I should say about that.

This was no joke
This was no joke

Vienna Film Festival

My favorite eating experience was at Vienna’s Film Festival. Apparently they just set up a giant screen in front of the Rathaus (city hall) where people can watch movies at night for like a month in the summer. Around it is what I would describe as a giant outdoor food court. It’s like you’re at the mall, but outside. Restaurants from all over Vienna set up booths – there’s a ton of variety and even a Magnum Ice Cream store! What!?

The atmosphere around the film festival is live
The atmosphere around the film festival is live

There were a ton of people there every night – tourists, locals, everybody basically. The food was great, the atmosphere was great, it just was pretty difficult to find a seat. You can however move to the benches in the nearby park. There are people coming around to grab your plates when you are done and things like that so you don’t even need to bus your own trays. If you are good at babysitting tables and don’t mind people hovering around you, I highly recommend checking out the Film Festival if you’re in Vienna in the summer. Even if you don’t like that – go anyway – there’s always takeout.

No idea what kind of fish these were but they were great
No idea what kind of fish these were but they were great

Final Thoughts

To be honest, I wasn’t really all that excited about the food options in Germany. I much prefer Italian pasta and pizza, or so I thought (that stuff is readily available all over Bavaria if you’re interested). I was actually impressed with what Germany had to offer food wise – there were some unique dishes that I really enjoyed eating. I wouldn’t say it’s a culinary wonderland or anything, but if you like hearty, wholesome food – Germany and Austria have your number.

Yum.
Yum.

Other Posts in this Series

Introduction

Final Preparations for the Little One

Lufthansa First Class with a Toddler

Slow Days with a Sick Toddler

Sightseeing in and around Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Observations After a Week in Germany

Climbing to AlpspiX and Neuschwanstein Castle

Zugspitze and Mittenwald

Sound of Music Bike Tour in Salzburg

Lazy Sunday in Salzburg – not

Rainy Days in Berchtesgaden

Visiting Museums and Biking in Vienna

Food in Germany and Austria

Rating the Toddler Friendliness of Our Hotels

Lufthansa First Class Terminal – Good for Toddlers?

 

Joe
Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less
http://www.asthejoeflies@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “Bavarian Summer: Food in Germany and Austria

  1. Tafelspitz is the best. Plachutta’s is the only restaurant I ever went to twice on a vacation. I’ve had tafelspitz elsewhere but they didn’t serve it with the broth.

  2. Those fish look like smelts. Probably a little different than the ones we get in New England, but I made that exact meal at home within the past couple of months.

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