Eight Great Restaurants and Food Artisans Feed the Soul: Slow Food in Southwest Germany

In tranquility lies good flavor.

Love, time, and wonderful ingredients are the heart of Southwest Germany’s Soul Food and Slow Food–a movement defined by local chefs creating traditional regional specialties It’s a way to honor the past as well as transport us from our hectic daily lives and into the sublime with meals made to be savored, slowly, of course.

Artisan Unpasteurized Cheese: Langenburg Sheep’s Cheese

Deutschland Baden Wuerttemberg Langenburg Hohenlohe – Langenburger Schafskaeserei Demeterhof von Norbert Fischer Slow Food Schafskaese

Norbert Fischer’s Demeter-Hof, nestled between meadows and fields in the Hohenlohe-Langenburg region, began in the early 1980s as a small, self-sufficient farm with a couple of sheep and now has grown into a substantial operation with a huge barn, a cheese dairy, farm shop and home. Everything is made from wood and glass accented with colorful flowering plants on the roof tops. Over 250 sheep live here under the care of Fischer, their shepherd. He uses their milk to hand produce fine sheep’s milk cheeses ranging from tangy Pecorino, to mouth-watering Camembert, and strong “Roque blue” cheese. Other products include organic ice cream and meat, sheepskins and the farm’s own picture book.

Lemon Ricotta Cake

  • 3.2 cups (400 grams) flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 3/8 (340 grams butter), melted
  • 1 cup (200 grams) of sugar
  • 2 eggs

> Knead everything and spread the dough on a baking tray

Bake for 15 minutes at 170 degrees

  • 3.3 cups (800g) ricotta
  • 6.76 fluid ounces (200ml) cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 6.76  fluid ounces (200ml) lemon juice

Mix everything and pour over the dough

Bake for 30 minutes at  325°F.

Put in the fridge and before serving, sprinkle with fresh mint.

schafkaese.com

Deutschland Baden Wuerttemberg Langenburg Hohenlohe – Langenburger Schafskaeserei Demeterhof von Norbert Fischer Slow Food Schafskaese

Fragrant bubbly: Blütenzauber Manufaktur in Bächlingen

The Jagst is one of the Neckar River’s largest tributaries. It winds its way from the Eastern Alb, over the Hohenloher and Haller Plain into the Heilbronn district. On the way, it meanders through the little village of Bächlingen. This is where Bernulf Schlauch lives, the Slow Food regional coordinator for Hohenlohe and inventor of blossom champagne. He uses a laborious process to produce sparkling wines from elder, acacia, rose blossom, and meadowsweet – deliberately taking things slowly.

“These sparkling wines need time for their flavors to unfold”, says Schlauch. For him, Slow Food does not just mean allowing time for the products themselves, but also taking time for guests and delicious food.

holunderzauber.de

Love of the Loaf: Eselsmühle Mill in Musberg

Eight donkeys, a shop, the Mühlenstube restaurant, a garden bistro, and a wood oven where the Demeter bread is baked. Sounds like the good old days and real proper bread, luckily at the Eselsmühle this is all on offer right now. The mill’s history goes back over 600 years, when the local millers supplied surrounding villages with food.

In 1937, the mill was acquired by the Gmelin family, who are still working passionately to preserve it and have created a genuine feel-good location in the extensive grounds surrounding the site, a place where everyday stress is banished. All the products here are certified organic and most come from this beautiful bucolic region.

eselsmuehle.com

Organic Fine Dining Pioneer: “1950” in Hayingen

Located in the heart of the Swabian Alb biosphere is the world’s first Demeter & Bioland fine dining restaurant. The “1950” is a new addition to the Tress family’s gastronomic offerings and honours the legacy of Grandfather Johannes, with the name marking the year he laid the foundation for the sustainable company philosophy that is still upheld today. The key feature: for every course on the vegetarian “CO2 menu” served here, guests also get comprehensive information about the ingredients. From CO2 emissions, to the distance involved between the producer and restaurant. To avoid producing waste in the kitchen, Simon Tress and his team strictly follow the principles of “leaf to root” and “nose to tail”.

tress-gastronomie.de

Holistic Gamekeeping: Schussental Game Products in Fronreute

“Once upon a time, there were three hunters …” – it sounds like the start of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, but in fact this is how the success story began for the Schussentaler Wildmanufaktur game company in Fronreute near Ravensburg. Their mission: to convince the residents of Upper Swabia to eat game. Game lives in a natural habitat, it is sustainable and largely free from harmful influences, offering the finest quality meat with a favourable environmental impact. Nonetheless, many people have reservations about the taste and are unsure how to cook it. The Wildmanufaktur hunters are doing their bit to restore its image by selling local, freshly hunted game that is ready to cook as a roast or goulash, grilled sausage or meat loaf.

schussentaler-wildmanufaktur.de

Copper pan cherries: Faller jams from Utzenfeld

Whether it’s black cherries from Baden, forest blueberries or Bühler damsons: ever since the company was founded in 1913, Faller jams have been cooked in small quantities using traditional, open copper pans and stirred by hand to preserve the natural, original taste of the fruit for the finest possible results. Short transportation distances also contribute to the quality of these jams.

Following this tradition, Faller continues to source large quantities of fruit and berries from the nearby Kaiserstuhl and Markgräflerland regions. This family-run Slow Food business has links with farmers that often go back many years. Their produce can be sampled in the “Therese” jam café. Or order jars of these sweet temptations straight from the online shop to enjoy for breakfast at home.

shop.fallerkonfitueren.de

Slow brewing amidst the pines: Rothaus Grafenhausen, Baden’s district brewery

Baden’s district brewery, Rothaus, demonstrates how you can capture the essence of the Black Forest in a bottle. All you need is tranquillity, care and time. The raw materials also come entirely from the surrounding area: the brewing water bubbles up from local springs in the nearby forest, native spring barley is used as the brewer’s malt, the aromatic hops are sourced from Tettnang and Hallertau, and the yeast comes from the company’s own pure culture. The “Slow Brewing” seal of approval confirms the exceptional quality and full-bodied, mature flavour of the Rothaus beers. This final feature is undoubtedly also owed to the brewery’s special location, up at an altitude of around 1,000 metres, between the Black Forest pines and spruce trees.

rothaus.de

Café Goldene Krone in St. Märgen

The “Golden Crown” has welcomed numerous guests over its centuries-long history. From 1753, it operated as a pilgrims’ refuge, later it became a grand hotel. Famous people called by here: from Heidegger to Adenauer. When the hotel was closed in 1990, a hush descended. A citizens’ action group halted the threatened demolition and, a good ten years later, went on to rescue this historically significant building and revive the village centre.

Tuniberg im Sommer 2008

Hugely successful, today the “Golden Crown” is once again a popular meeting place. This “countrywoman’s café” with a small shop is a fine example of social, economic and environmental sustainability. Instead of trained professionals, the shop and kitchen facilities is run by 20 committed local women, all adding their own special flavour to the regional dishes with their personal recipes.

Cafe Golden Krone

cafe-goldene-krone.de

For more information:

State Tourist Board Baden-Württemberg

Esslinger Strasse 8

70182 Stuttgart, Germany

ausland@tourismus-bw.de

Destination Peru: Visit some of the most astonishing flora and fauna in the world

Peru contains 84 of the 104 ecosystems on Earth and 28 of the world’s 32 climates, making it among the 10 most biodiverse countries on the planet. Almost one-third of all animal and plant species living on Earth inhabit just the Peruvian Amazon. From water lilies that can hold the weight of a small child to snakes as long as a school bus and tarantulas as wide as a foot-long sub sandwich, some plants and animals are so enormous that seeing is not believing. 

Here are some astonishing creatures and plants that will open your eyes to Peru’s many living wonders. Happy plant and animal spotting!

Marvelous Mammals

Llamas and alpacas may be the country’s most familiar mammals, but Peru is also home to some strange mammalian creatures, such as the giant armadillo, a 5-foot-long shelled animal found in the country’s eastern Andes and Amazon Basin. The world’s largest armadillo, this Peruvian jungle giant has as many as 100 teeth for chewing plants and small vertebrates. But its primary diet is termites; it has the longest claw-to-body length of any mammal and uses the 8-inch center claw on each forelimb to open up termite mounds and dig for termites, ants, and worms. Good swimmers that can hold their breath for six minutes, giant armadillos aren’t easy to see because they’re nocturnal and sleep 18 hours a day in deep burrows that always face west. 

The giant river otter inhabits the Amazon rainforest and tributaries year-round but is easier to spot in June, July, and August when water levels are lowest. More than twice the length of the North American river otter, Peru’s giant otters are 6 feet long, weigh between 48 and 70 pounds, and feast mostly on fish. They live in family groups of three to 15 that include monogamous parents and several generations of offspring. 

A delightful highlight of cruising the waters around Iquitos and Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is spotting the playful Amazon pink river dolphin, which is born with translucent gray skin that gradually turns pink. These Amazonian mammals can reach 9 feet in length and weigh up to 400 pounds. They feed on crabs, shrimps, turtles, and fish. Out of five freshwater dolphin types, this species has the largest body and brain, with 40 percent more brain capacity than humans. 

A beloved mammal that lives only in Peru, the spectacled bear is the only remaining short-faced bear in the world and South America’s only bear. Named for the white/yellowish rings that encircle their eyes like glasses, these shaggy-furred bears are non-aggressive toward humans and excellent tree climbers, due to front legs longer than hind limbs. They live on fruits, bromeliads, cactus, and the soft parts of palm trees in the dry forest environment of the Chaparrí Ecological Reserve in northern Peru and the Andean cloud forest. Spectacled bears are commonly spotted along the Inca Trail and sometimes roaming between the terraces of Machupicchu, where approximately 70 inhabit the surrounding forest. If you’re lucky enough to spot one, know that this rolly-polly bruin inspired the classic British children’s books about the adventures of an adorable, orphaned bear named Paddington that was sent as a stowaway from Lima to London. 

The world’s slowest animals, three-toed sloths are so sedentary that algae grows on their furry coats, which gives them a greenish camouflage tint. Considered lazy because they sleep 15 to 20 hours a day, sloths spend most of their time hanging from tree limbs with the help of their long claws. They even mate and give birth there. Nocturnal herbivores, they feed on fruit, shoots, and leaves. Three-toed sloths, in particular, have a singular distinction: Their extra neck vertebrae allow them to turn their heads some 270 degrees. You can spot them in the Peruvian Amazon.

Stealthy Snakes

Another astounding Amazonian animal is the green anaconda. At up to 550 pounds, it’s the largest snake in the world. Green anacondas are also long; they can grow to more than 29 feet, or the size of a school bus, and measure more than 12 inches in diameter. They live in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon and Orinoco River basins, where they feast on wild pigs, deer, birds, turtles, capybara, caimans, and even jaguars. Notoriously, they asphyxiate their prey by coiling around it and squeezing until it dies, after which they swallow it whole.

Freaky Fish

The monstrous paiche (also known as arapaima and pirarucu) is king of the Amazon. The world’s largest freshwater fish, paiche can grow up to 10 feet in length and more than 400 pounds. This torpedo-shaped fish with an upturned mouth, red tail, and copper and green head must surface to breathe but can stay underwater as long as 30 minutes. While cruising the Amazon, you may spot one coming up for air. Often called arapaima on restaurants menus, paiche is a flavorful, mild-tasting fish with firm flesh. 

On the Marañón River in the upper Amazon basin, the Ucayali River, and the Huallaga River, keep your eyes focused on the shore for the wood-eating Peckoltia pankimpuju. This armored catfish approximately 15 inches long uses its oversized pectoral fins to crawl single file across land for 24 hours as it seeks new pools with plentiful sustenance. 

Show Birds

The national bird of Peru, Andean cock-of-the-rock can be found in protected areas of the Andean cloud forest at elevations between 1,600 and 8,000 feet, including Machupicchu and Manu National Park in the Madre de Dios region of southeastern Peru. Compared to the monochromatic, chestnut/orange-feathered females, the males are flashy birds with orangish-red heads, necks, breasts, and shoulders; black bodies; gray wings; and large crests of feathers that hang down to their bills. They’re more likely to be heard than seen. The males are noisy during their rambunctious group mating ritual when they present their showiest performances for the females — bowing, wing-flapping, head-bobbing, bill-snapping, and making bizarre squeaks and grunts. Fruit-eaters that nest on ledges and cliffs, cocks-of-the-rock are a prized checklist species for international birdwatchers. 

A bird with prehistoric roots, the hoatzin is the last surviving member of a bird species that lived around the time dinosaurs became extinct. About the size of a chicken, the hoatzin has a mohawk crest, clawed wings, and two stomachs. The chicks are born with two claws on the digits of each wing, which enable them to crawl by alternating front and rear legs on opposite sides of their body. Hoatzins are the only living bird species that has mastered alternated walking coordination of four limbs by using its claws. It’s also the only bird with a digestive system that ferments vegetation like a cow does, which enables it to eat just leaves and buds.

Awesome Insects

The Amazon basin has its share of crazy and eye-catching insects your guides may point out. They include the Amazonian tarantula, the world’s largest at 13 inches wide; the small decoy spider that uses leaves, debris, and dead insects to build a larger, fake spider in its web to confuse or frighten predators; and the vibrant, iridescent blue morpho butterfly, whose wingspan ranges between 5 and 8 inches and whose wings have a brown underside that camouflages the insect to protect it from predators. 

Wondrous Plants

With its enormous biodiversity, Peru has a wider variety of plants than most countries. Some are surprising, like puya raimondi, a bromeliad also known as the queen of the Andes that grows in the high Andes. Out of 3,000 species of bromeliads on Earth, this one is a standout. The world’s largest and slowest growing bromeliad, puya raimondi blooms only once when it has lived between 50 and 100 years and the stalk has grown 50 feet high. But the flowering spike that takes so long to bloom can last a couple of years. 

Another flowering plant in Peru that will leave you wide-eyed is the giant water lily. Its circular leaves grow as wide as 8 feet in diameter and are strong enough to hold the weight of a small child. You will find this lily in the slow-moving, shallow waters of the Amazon. The large flowers (16 inches across) are fragrant and white on the night they bloom, while some turn pink on the second night. 

One of the rarest orchids in the world, the monkey orchid grows in Peru’s cloud forests and can bloom in any season. The blossoms, which smell like a ripe orange, really do look like the face of a monkey, each one as unique as a snowflake. 

Great Ideas for Gearing Up for Travel

By Guest blogger Kathy Witt

Road trips, international travel, less crowded destinations, more responsible travel, family and friends getaways and cruising – these are the types of travels Americans are seeking for 2023 according to a travel predictions outlook by AAA.

Whether they jet off to Europe (where the dollar is stronger than it has been for the past 20 years); choose to cruise, attracted by cruising’s all-inclusive nature; or hit the road for more budget-conscious but still meaningful experiences, travelers need the proper gear.

Fully featured with every amenity, the Rodeo Drive 2.0 Large Check-In ($279.99 on sale) by Ricardo Beverly Hills, www.ricardobeverlyhills.com, is a gorgeous and sleek checked-size piece with extravagant packing space – THE piece for that extended dream vacation. Light but sturdy, it will hold everything needed in a well-organized interior that includes a suiter system, zippered pockets and compartment, removable laundry bag and individual shoe bags.

This bag’s refined craftsmanship shows in its scratch-resistant, nearly indestructible Makrolon polycarbonate textured exterior, meaning the case will arrive at your destination looking as good as it did when you checked it. It has smooth maneuverability thanks to dual, all-direction wheels and premium handle system and is finished with a Makrolon polycarbonate textured exterior.

Classic styling and functional finesse characterize Briggs & Riley’s Baseline Traveler Tote ($219), www.briggs-riley.com. Generously sized, it derives its strength from durable ballistic nylon construction and its elegant, good looks from leather detailing, from carry handles to hideaway ID tag to nameplate that can be monogrammed.

Available in black or olive, the bag’s exterior has a slip-through back panel for sliding over a roller bag and Briggs & Riley’s signature SpeedThru pocket with a lining in luscious orange for fast access to stored items at security checkpoints. Inside, the main compartment is generously sized and offers three elastic bloused pockets and a soft lining in a contrasting color that makes finding items a snap.

In 100 percent recycled materials, Eagle Creek’s rugged and sturdy 40L Migrate Duffel ($99), www.eaglecreek.com, with wide-mouth opening is made to swallow up enough clothing and accessories for a long, leisurely weekend or weeklong getaway. Not only that but it converts quickly to backpack mode with tuck-away straps for versatile carry options.

Among its many features are side buckles that unlock for additional packing space; external compression straps to keep gear in place; seamless bottom bathtub construction that helps prevent water from entering the duffel; top, side and end handles that double as tie-down locations; an internal storm flap to deter dust and water entry; a lockable main zipper with large finger loop zipper pulls for easy access; and a front-zippered pocket for quick access essentials. All this and soft and squishy to fit into the overhead bin or under the airplane seat.

Pair the Migrate Duffel with one of Eagle Creek’s Pack-It packing cube systems, like the Pack-It Isolate Cube Set ($45), www.eaglecreek.com, comprising three differently sized bags made to organize everything needed for travels. Stash accessories and socks into the extra small cube, pajamas and undergarments into the small and jeans and other bulkier items into the medium cube. Zip closed and voila! Once you travel with packing cubes, you’ll never want to travel without them again.

Ultralightweight, water resistant and translucent, these washable cubes are treated with an antimicrobial agent that combats harmful, odor-causing bacteria and provides long-lasting stink protection. New to Eagle Creek’s Pack-It line is Pack-It Starter Set ($55), which includes a folding envelope designed to hold up to 12 items, fit into a carry-on and transport more wrinkle-prone garments to keep them looking sharp.

Bringing a downtown energy in a laidback bag is Solo’s Duane Hybrid Briefcase ($64.99), www.solo-ny.com, one of the most popular (and versatile) bags in the U.S. Featuring a fully padded laptop sleeve and an internal iPad/tablet sleeve, Duane converts from brief to commuter to backpack in seconds, making it the perfect bag to carry to the office, across town for a meeting or out of town for a weekend getaway.

The bag has a large front pocket with organizer panel, two quick-access front pockets for added storage, smooth-glide zippers, padded carry handles with magnetic snaps, a removable/adjustable shoulder strap and hideaway padded backpack straps. Duane maintains a slim silhouette, while providing enough room for a change of clothes.

RECIPE FOR THE PERFECT PACKING LIST

Renee Silverman, president of Irv’s Luggage in Vernon Hills, IL (www.irvsluggage.com), has a curated list of interesting and useful travel products for 2023 to keep travelers organized, confident and prepared for anything.

“These are all items intended to make travel easier, more organized, more secure and therefore, less stressful,” said Silverman. “Keeping these essential items together ensures that you don’t forget any of them.”

  1. Compression packing cubes. These are the most important item in your suitcase. Compression cubes keep you organized by allowing you to pack by category, and they allow for the most efficient packing. Other benefits: You never have to unpack them. Your personal items never come into contact with the interior of the drawers.
  • Charging station. With four USB ports and one US grounded plug, the Tech Candy Power Trip Outlet + USB Port Travel Charging Station lets you charge up to five items at once. For international travel you just plug the power trip into your adapter plus and you’re ready to charge.
  • Toiletry kit. Silverman loves the Travelon Flat-Out Hanging Toiletry Kit because it’s designed to be easier to pack than other bulkier toiletry bags – and allows for packing a ton of toiletries in the see-through pockets.
  • Toothbrush sanitizer. Keep your toothbrush clean with Pursonic’s S1 Portable Travel UV Toothbrush Sanitizer. When you close the lid, the green light goes on to indicate UV sanitizing is taking place.
  • Mirror. Charge up this 2-sided Tech Candy Glow Up Charging Mirror (one side is magnified) and you have a great lighted mirror AND a portable charger for your phone.
  • Book light. Tiny but powerful, the Mighty Bright Rechargeable Travel Book Light concentrates light exactly where you need it. It’s small and easy to pack and recharges so you never have to replace the battery.
  • Anti-theft protection. “Do not travel without an anti-theft bag of some kind,” said Silverman. Her pick? Travelon’s Anti-Theft Metro Sling, a crossbody sling equipped with all the most important anti-theft features – plus you are hands free.

For more information on each item listed above, visit www.irvsluggage.com or call the store at 847-437-4810.

About Guest Blogger Kathy Witt

Award winning writer and author Kathy Witt is a member of SATW Society of American Travel Writers and the Authors Guild

She is the author of Secret Cincinnati; The Secret of the Belles; Atlanta, GA: A Photographic Portrait

NEWCincinnati Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for Cincinnati’s Hidden Treasures is now available.

NEWPerfect Day Kentucky: Daily Itineraries for the Discerning Traveler arriving Fall 2023

WORLD’S TALLEST WOODEN HOTEL OFFERS NEW CLIMATE-POSITIVE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE


“Wood Hotel Experience” Blurs Luxury with Sustainability in Swedish Lapland.

After a soft local opening, the world’s tallest hotel made almost exclusively from wood, has now opened for guests everywhere at the birthplace of cross-country skiing, Skellefteå in Swedish Lapland. The new hotel is part of a five-day/four-night Wood Hotel Experience from Off the Map Travel adventure travel specialists, offering a mix of sustainability and nature in a beautiful setting.

Designed for enjoyment in the forested area of northern Sweden, couples as well as families will experience the hotel along with local adventure and gastronomy.  Available from December to March, the Wood Hotel Experience begins with an overnight stay in Stockholm before a flight to Skellefteå where guests will be transferred by electric car to the Wood Hotel.

The new Wood Hotel stands 75 meters tall with 20 storeys and is made almost entirely from spruce and pine sourced from the neighboring forests. Dominating the skyline but fitting into the town’s natural beauty with its wood construction, the hotel has 205 contemporary rooms filled with the rich, warm smell of the trees they are built from. In addition to a rooftop spa, the hotel has three stunning restaurants including an Italian café, an Asian restaurant and one with locally sourced, Sami-inspired food.

“This is an opportunity for sustainability-minded visitors who search out “neo luxury,” looking for culture and escapism all wrapped into one comfortable, climate-sensitive package,” says Alex Minnis, Chief Operations Officer of Off the Map Travel. “Being made out of wood contributes to the building’s being climate-positive as the structure absorbs more CO2 than it uses. It also contributes to comfort and personal well-being, reducing stress and improving sleep” he added.

As part of the experience, guests will create their own gin at Skellefteå’s award-winning distillery using locally foraged ingredients. Guests can also choose to go snowshoeing to take in the sights of this beautiful part of Swedish Lapland and then relax in the hotel’s Vana Spa with its saunas and outdoor pool offering panoramic views over Skellefteå and its forests.  In winter, the new itinerary is ideally located for guests to experience the Northern Lights on a self-guided walk with well-marked trails leaving directly from the hotel.

For cross-country skiers, Skellefteå is a dream, offering choices for all levels of enthusiasts, with optional excursions possible according to guests’ interests and levels.

Priced from £2045 per person ($2500 USD at the time of this writing), the five-day/four-night Wood Hotel Experience itinerary includes all accomodations, daily breakfast, one lunch and gin making, snowshoeing and the rooftop spa. Flights and travel insurance are additional, and the package can be customized to include excursions such as cross-country skiing.

For more information visit www.offthemap.travel, call 0800 566 8901 or email info@offthemap.travel

Full Itinerary:

Day 1 – Arrive in Stockholm and stay overnight in the city 

Day 2 – Fly from Stockholm to Skellefteå Airport for an electric car transfer to The Wood Hotel 

Day 3 – Lunch at Gin Distillery followed by gin making 

Day 4 – Morning snowshoeing and afternoon at the hotel’s panoramic Spa 

Day 5 – Return to Stockholm

OFF THE MAP TRAVEL

The team at Off the Map Travel works with experiences and destinations that allow people to explore hidden wonders of our planet. Specializing in the Nordic region OTMT creates tailor-made holiday itineraries offering authentic experiences not offered by many larger travel companies.  For more information on Off the Map Travel itineraries visit www.offthemap.travel; call 1-646-701-0041; email info@offthemap.travel  or join in the conversation on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube or Pinterest