Germany is an ancient and diverse land of forests, castles, rivers and picturesque towns where no one would mind getting lost. It also offers a mind-boggling variety of traditional food and of course, beer.
Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany has a unique style visible in its heritage and culture. It has a rich history as it was a major trading hub for goods from around the world. It is also known for its stunning sceneries and authentic traditional foods and drinks. Hamburg, located on the banks of the Elbe River, is a port city where most of its cuisine includes fresh fish and local produce. Popular dishes comprise herring, shrimps, black bread, sausages and fresh fruits, accompanied by wine. Most of us describe the distinctive nature of a place by its food, and Hamburg scores countless points in this regard.
In the first part of this series of photo features, I will take you on my culinary journey through the inviting city of Hamburg.
Krabbentoast or Fish bread
Served on toasted bread of your choice, krabbentoast is a popular snack enjoyed by the locals. A generous portion of small shrimps sautéed in salt and pepper are sandwiched between slices of bread. If you are an ardent seafood lover you will relish the melt-in-the-mouth texture of the shrimps which sits “Oh so well” on the crusty bread. You can savour Hamburg’s best Krabbentoast at Bruecke 10 a small waterfront restaurant located on Hamburg’s harbour – St. Pauli Landungsbrucken. Complement your snack with Germany’s local hipster drink called Fritz-Kola (recommended) or a cappuccino.
Fine dining at The Parlament, Town Hall
Treat yourself to a fine dining experience after a day of sightseeing and shopping at Rathausmarkt. One of the best restaurants in Hamburg, The Parlament, is located in the lower ground floor of the Hamburg Rathaus or Town Hall. ¬¬¬The restaurant offers two distinct menus – Tageskarte (menu of the day) and Abendkarte (for dinner) depending on the time of day. Their menus are vast and offer traditional Hamburg dishes as well as dishes from the rest of Germany and Europe. Start with the delectable lobster cream soup which is a typical dish from the Germany’s northern region. Follow it up with the fried plaice (a flavorful European flat fish) from the North Sea which is served with buttered potatoes and butter-slewed Arctic Sea prawns. Yes, fish on fish! In case this is an overdose of seafood for you, try the fresh beef Carpaccio followed by the braised knuckle of lamb, served with a gravy so fine that you’ll be left wanting more. Although the service is a bit slow, the portions are enormous and all in all, you will not be disappointed. You will leave with a happy belly.
Cheese and Jalapeños soup at the Ratsherrn Brauerei
The restaurant of the Ratsherrn Brauerei (microbrewery) serves an improvised version of the traditional German potato-cheese soup. A tangerine coloured warm, silky broth made with mild cheddar cheese is served alongside a bread basket. Enjoy the spicy bits of jalapeños and a sprinkling of cheese nachos which team up well with the freshly brewed beer from the Ratsherrn’s microbrewery. And if not for the food, you must schedule a tour of the brewery and see how the Germans make their beer.
Labskaus – Hamburg style
If you’re feeling adventurous, then one dish to try is a classic sailors dish called Labskaus. Wholesome in its nature, the meal consists of a hefty serving of salted ground beef, pickled beetroots or gherkins and raw herring topped with an egg sunny-side up. Although this dish is worth trying at least once, let me warn you that it is an acquired taste. When in Rome…
Satisfy your taste buds with a Currywurst
Germany’s favourite fast food – the currywurst is a deep-fried pork sausage topped with spiced tomato ketchup or sauce, strewed with curry powder and served with a side of crisp french fries. These are available throughout the city of Hamburg, at local kiosks, pubs, cafes and restaurants. Indulge in one at a local pub with a tall glass of German pilsner.
Indulge in a sinful dessert
Rote Grütze with vanilla sauce or red berry pudding is a conventional and a popular dessert from Northern Germany and is prepared with a mix of fresh berries like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, red currants and pitted cherries. The berries are stewed with other ingredients and the glistening concoction is served with rich and creamy vanilla sauce. Alternatively, you can also have the Rote Grütze with vanilla ice cream. Try it at the Block Bräu which is located St. Pauli Landungsbrücken.
TIP: Most restaurants in Germany tend to keep menus in both German and English. So when in doubt, ask for the English menu.