Thursday, June 18, 2009

When in Germany, eat.

It has been awhile. I have been spending most of my free time working on my website. But now that I am on vacation in Germany I have taken a bit of a temporary break from that work. What I have seen yesterday and today in Germany has inspired me to write a bit here. The green and golden rolling hills bathed by the warm sunshine against the backdrop of a sparkling blue lake and snow-capped jagged mountains is enough to set one aday-dreaming.

I am staying on a farm. The building we are in was once a chicken coop but it was converted to a rental house. There are two farmhouses, one other building that was a mill (also converted to a rental house) and a horse stable on the property. The owners come from a long line of land-owners and their property goes on for acres, earning the master the title of "The Baron" in these parts. Don`t let the image of a "chicken coop converted to a rental house" fool you. It is a charming building with all the modern conveniences of a typical German home, large windows, solid doors, spacious bathrooms, high-speed internet, and the best light-blocking blinds I have ever seen. Coming from the city it is so calming to sit on the balcony and watch the endless gentle commotion of the lush countryside. Twice a day we see a stampede of horses running across the plateau on the hill we look out over and on clear moments we can see the Alps sparkling in the distance. In the nearby town colorful houses serve as the palette for the annual neighborly fight over who can produce the most prolific and healthy roses. Our landlords here may just win. They are both in their eighties and they are outdoors working on their land from early morning to late evening. They grow or raise almost all of the food they eat. Needless to say, they are extemely healthy.

I am not sure if it is the scenery or if it really is so, but the food here is just spectacular. Today we shopped at the local biodynamic store. No, that was not a typo, there is actually a store that sells only biodynamic food here. Until I really started focusing on eating local foods I was eating lots of swiss cheese, in particular I am a huge fan of emmenthaler. I bought some today, since it certainly can be considered local here (we are about 30 minutes from the Swiss border). And now I can say with confidence that there is something to be said for buying food near its source. I have never had Emmenthaler this good, despite my buying the fancy stuff at Whole Foods. The salami, the olives, the cheese, the raw milk and yogurt have been beyond words. And the cloudberries, currants, strawberries and cherries we have picked in the back yard have all been delightfully luscious and tasty.

For dinner last night we ate roasted peppers and sausage, potato salad, a lettuce that we cannot figure out the name of with ripe red tomatoes, sourdough bread with gobs of raw butter, raw sauerkraut, feta cheese with basil and olive oil and lots of cold raw milk. All of this stuff comes from our neighbors (except the olive oil but even that is not that far away) and all of it was delicious. Who needs desert when dinner knocks you off your feet (not to say I turned down the rich dark Swiss chocolate).

Another strange and wonderful thing we saw today was a German biodynamic dairy. It is part of the Waldorf school here in the nearby town. Of course we went there to get our supply of raw milk but our children were mesmerized by the brown cows munching on huge piles of fresh grass. I had never seen anything like it. The cows were fed fresh grass in the barn (I would have put an exclamation point at the end of this sentence but I can´t find it on this German keyboard). As far as I know cows are fed hay in the barn, not fresh grass. It made the barn so beautiful to see the floor covered in mounds of freshly cut green grass. The milk has a complex sweet and rich taste. It is out of this world and we are drinking a bit more than a gallon a day between the four of us.

OK, I suppose I have induced a little mouthwatering. I will stop here and maybe write more another day.


  1. That sounds amazing! I want to visit that place. Are you renting?

  2. So, how did you pick this vacation spot? Did you know there would be such glorious fresh food and raw milk nearby? Or is this just so common in Germany that we should all die of envy?

    Thanks for joining in the Fight Back Friday fun today!

    (AKA FoodRenegade)

  3. I am staying at my sister's place. She lives near a town where there is a large Waldorf School, hence all of the biodynamic food. But the general consciousness that fresh food direct from the farmer is the best kind is common in Europe I think. They have much higher standards for food quality as far as I can tell.
    Not to say they do not have McDonalds and the like here, but it is certainly not as widespread.
    And we are so close to Switzerland so there is a ton of fresh, delicious cheeses here. It is not that pricey either.
    And I am convinced that the climate here adds to the bountiful fresh and delicious foods. You cannot imagine the roses here. I think they grow wild, they are everywhere, growing, seemingly with little outside help, even next to weeds. And I saw the largest rosemary bush I have ever seen in my life today. If not for the foliage and fragrance I would never have guessed it was rosemary. Maybe about 4-5 feet wide and tall, I never knew rosemary could grow so tall. And the lavender is blooming right now like crazy, it is lush and fragrant and it is also everywhere. Lots of people grow their lavender next to their roses. Especially when there are red roses, this combination is spectacular.
    Maybe everyone can tell that I am from a northerly place? Maybe this kind of lush landscape is common elsewhere in the US but nowhere that I have lived.