You could drive from Hamburg to Munich in seven hours. But then you would miss out on all the pork knuckles, pumpernickel and apple wine.
Instead, consider a five-day journey beginning in the port city of Hamburg and carving your way south down to the Bavarian bastion of Munich.
Your guide along this journey: Prof. Ingo Scheuermann, who writes for German gastronomic journals such as Effilee. He suggests these satiating stops:
Start in Hamburg: Get your bearings in this maritime city. Explore the harbour, the revamped warehouse district and its historic fish market. "From a culinary perspective, Christoph Ruffer at the Haerlin (restaurant-haerlin.de) in the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten is the best pick in town, whereas one shouldn't miss a fresh and simple fish at the harbour," says Scheuermann. For a macro view, check out the Miniatur Wunderland (miniatur-wunderland.com), a railway model world gone wild.
Then head for Wolfsburg: Here, satisfy your inner gear geek on all things Volkswagen at a museum devoted to the brand (volkswagen-automuseum.de), and then feed your inner gastro geek at the Ritz Carlton's AQUA, where one of the best chefs in the world is at work. "Three-star chef Sven Elverfeld serves contemporary cuisine often presenting childhood memories or German traditional food in a modern way," Scheuermann says.
Take a side trip to Osnabrueck: Come for the cabbage. Stay for the beer. Scheuermann says Lower Saxony is renowned for its rustic cuisine, most importantly Grunkohl – green cabbage – served with boiled sausages and complimented by offerings from some famous breweries. Also here is Thomas Buhner's Restaurant La Vie (restaurant-lavie.de). "Buhner's style could be described as German avant garde, but this hardly does justice to his culinary imagination."
For a cultural digestif: Check out various exhibitions about the Peace of Westphalia and the artist museum, the Felix Nussbaum Haus, (osnabrueck.de), designed by Daniel Libeskind.
Black Forest stars: Forget the jelly laden dessert specialty – the Black Forest is another culinary draw, where you can spend the whole day and evening in Baiersbronn and environs; they seem to hand out Michelin stars like lebkuchen in these parts.
Two Michelin-adorned restaurants (three stars a piece) are the Schwarzwaldstube (traube-tonbach.de) in the Hotel Traube Tonbach, where Harald Wohlfahrt "serves his puristic interpretation of classic French cuisine," and the Restaurant Bareiss (bareiss.com), where Claus-Peter Lumpp cooks "at his best level ever," according to Sheuermann.
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