Our trip to Malta included a lay-over in Frankfurt. The same was true on the way back, so I picked our flight in order to spend some time in Germany, almost 24 hours in fact.
We had picked the City Hotel Frankfurt, on Allerheiligenstrasse in the Cultural Quarter, on the Main’s northern bank. After checking in, we soon found ourselves wandering down Zeil, a pedestrian street from two major plazas – Hauptwache to Konstablerwache. Since the end of the last century, it has been the city’s major shopping street. The “Golden mile”, it is lined with well-known department stores. It used to be known for its grand buildings but most of them were destroyed during World War II and were not rebuilt. In fact, most of the city was destroyed, it seems. Konstablerwache was the plaza closest to our hotel, and it is where we encountered a buzy public market, around 4 pm, as we were starting our exploration.
During our time in Malta, Euronews broadcasted a report about the opening of the Currywurst Museum in Berlin. I had never heard of this dish before, but I was quite excited about going to Germany so soon after the opening of a museum celebrating a post-war delicacy:
Wurst. Grilled. Sliced.
Curry powder. Lots of it.
After flying over the Mediterannean Sea, and over half Europe, I was quite hungry. And quite happy to find, in the public market, many Germans enjoying some sausage and beer after a hard day’s work.
I’ve got to admit that it was surprisingly delicious. The wurst was dense, juicy, warm throughout. The ketchup was kept warm and poured over the wurst. They were not shy on the curry powder, which partly diluted in the warm tomato sauce. The snack came with a roll, which was fine, but was oh so overshadowed by this Berlin-born mixture. I must try to do this at home.
After our snacks (well, mine ), we had to fill Mel’s appetite for shopping along the Zeil. Truth is, Frankfurt is no Malta, and if I was happy with the 15° C, Mel was in a dire need of a sweater. After finally finding something at one of the two H and Ms on the Zeil we wandered around for a while, walking through Franfurt, crossing the Main, watching the barges slowly making their way up the river.
All this walking made us hungry, it was getting late, so we set out to look for a place to have dinner. The heart of Frankfurt is the Römerberg, with it’s 13th-century cathedral of St Bartholomäus and the gables of the Römerplatz. And it is on the Römerberg that we looked for dinner, hoping that, despite the tourist trap feel of the place, we would be okay. And so we picked the Zum Standesämtchen, at the “Römer” straight across the city hall.
The restaurant, open since 1983, is located in an historical building which was rebuilt after the war. An original pillar from 1543 is still standing, and the whole interior gives a very warm and restful vibe. It was a quiet night, but you could almost hear the clashing of the Steins, the singing and the laughter of the F rankfurters into the night.
We ordered a couple of German beers with a name I couldn`t pronouce sober, and I didn’t improve throughout the evening.
We peered at the menu for appetizers – we were quite hungry. I spotted the Weinkäse mit Musik right away, and I encouraged Melissa to order it, despite the protest of the owner. Local soft cheese, onions, vinegar. What is not too like? For my part, I ordered a hearty Kartoffelsuppe, a potato soup.
Mel felt that she should have listened to the German food expert as opposed to the French-Canadian poutine expert. The cheese was quite soft, milky, light. It was covered with marinated raw onions and herbs, and generously drenched in vinegar. The onions were, in my opinion, tasty, if you like marinated vinegary onions. But there was a lot – a hell of a lot – of it.
The soup was very flavourful. With chicken stock and bacon as a base, there was lots of potatoes, obviously, but also carrots, onions, herbs (a bit heavy on fresh parsley). The final product was very rich, but thankfully the potatoes were not too starchy, and the texture was great. Mel was eyeing it, and since she was blaming me for her poor choice of appetizer, I did share my soup with her, much to her content.
That behind us, we were able to focus on our main target in Germany, something she had been focussed on ever since we had landed in Frankfurt: Schnitzel.
Schnitzel means a cutlet without bones. It is a traditional dish and is a popular part of German cuisine. Usually, it is thin slices of veal coated in breadcrumbs and fried, though other types of meat are now sometimes used.
Mel picked the classic Wiener Schnitzel but I picked the Jägerschnitzel – in her honour.
Now, I have already pointed out that this place had the feel of a tourist trap, and some had bad experiences here. But the place was empty, and therefore the cook could take his time – these schnitzels were the best we’ve ever had.
Mel’s veal was lightly breaded and nicely golden, tender and juicy. The traditional piece of lemon was there in lieu of any sauce, giving the meat an appetizing zest. Her dish also included small fried potatoes and a side of green beans sauteed with lardons.
My Hunter schnitzel was served with ordinary french fries and a small garden salad. Nothing to talk about. Served with a dark mushroom gravy and lots of mushrooms, it was dense, rich. Very woody, touches of rosemary and parsley, I was left begging for more – and finish the sauce with bits of Mel’s schnitzel. I do enjoy the variety in the sides, completing each dish differently.
After our meal, we were too full to move. So we had to order more beers, and drank them while exchanging pleasantries with the owner, who was happy to be able to take some time to actually talk to some international consumers, instead of only taking their money. Talking of money, the bill amounted to 70 Euros, 8 beers and tax included.