Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Schwarzwald and the Best Black Forest Cake Ever

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Impossibly blue skies, luscious grass, quaint houses and never-ending trees. Mostly, the black forest (Schwarzwald) was about fresh air and storybook scenery. We stayed at Freiburg, the main tourist entry point to the Black Forest, which was a small but bustling University town. The farmers' market at the Münsterplatz (town square) that takes place everyday except Sunday induced in me serious envy - if only I had access to farmer markets where I live in Germany! I've always dreamt of making rhubarb pies in rhubarb season, or fitting the season's best white asparagus into the dinner menu, things like that. I'm still dreaming. Anyway, if you need a snack, there are stalls selling grilled german sausages at the market too. They always smell amazing. And if you want to visit the Freiburg Minster (Cathedral of Freiburg), well, you can't miss it once you're at the Münsterplatz. There's shopping to be done along the cobblestone streets, and little canals you'll spot (people used to fight fires with these in medieval days!). We took a train down to Lake Titisee, which was actually frozen. Here, you can visit the multitude of stores selling everything from Black Forest Ham to Cuckoo Clocks to random souvenirs. We followed a sign pointing towards "Cafe Alpenblick" into the Black Forest, and was rewarded with spectacular views. The third last photo was one of those views you actually got to enjoy with a slice of cake and some tea. Absolutely amazing. Cafe Alpenblick was supposed to serve very good cakes, but I thought they were just okay. The views make up for everything though, really.


Now, in the Black Forest vicinity, there are two things you need to try - Black Forest Cake and Black Forest Ham. The Black Forest ham is so named because it is first cured for two weeks with salt, then cured for another two without and cold smoked for up to nine months. It is smoky and flavourful, with a texture similar to that of Parma Ham. A very worthy specialty of the region. We also had a taste of Roasted Pork Knuckle and Spätzle noodles, typical Bavarian dishes, which isn't really the cuisine of the region. Perhaps this explains why it wasn't the best pork knuckle I've had (The best pork knuckle I've had so far was in Munich, the capital of Bavaria). Oh yes, that slice of Black Forest Cake right there from the 550-year-old Café Schmidt in Freiburg, that is one amazing slice of cake. I felt like I've lived all these years not knowing what Black Forest cake ought to taste like... At the risk of sounding corny, I really did think this slice of cake changed my life in some way. In that discoveries like this is what gives travelling meaning - to think you know how something tastes like, then to taste it as its source and discover that you knew nothing about it. Isn't it always the smallest things that change your life in small but unexpected ways? I don't know how Black Forest cake is done where you come from, but over here in the the Black Forest region where it originated, master pâtissier Karl Guth from Café Schmidt knows how to do it best - "Take three layers of really good chocolate cake and sprinkle with really good Kirschwasser [cherry brandy]; whisk up fresh cream with a little sugar and more Kirschwasser; decorate with Morellen, sour cherries, soaked in Kirschwasser." (the Telegraph) Can you imagine just how amazing it tasted? The fresh cream, alcohol, chocolate and sour cherries came together gorgeously. You really need the freshest cream you can lay your hands on to make everything pop. I did try a few other Black Forest cakes in the region, but the one at Café Schmidt literally takes the cake. I'll never have Black Forest cake any other way now.

Café Schmidt
Bertoldstraße 19a
79098 Freiburg
Tel: 0761 36967

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Leave a comment (9)

  1. I've just stumbled over ya blog and realized that you two are currently in Germany! So, I have a recommendation: Try to find a place where they serve "CROQUES"... it's more popular
    here in Northern Germany, Hamburg surrounding, but almost unknown in the rest of the country. But you might find it in Berlin.
    Ohh by the way, they have Croques in France, of course... but the German one is totally different and was invented in Hamburg!

    Have fun and enjoy ya trip!


  2. Sofie: I'm glad you enjoyed them(:

    Chi: Thanks for the recommendation! I'll definitely give it a try if I see it around!

  3. Ohh by the way, in case you are still in Berlin... check out this:

    Curry Sausage with fries is probably one of THE most popular GERMAN dishes. And people in Berlin claim to have the best Curry Sausage in Germany... of course that's not true, because the best Curry sausages are definitely in Hamburg! :-D

  4. haha! I'm not in Berlin anymore, I'm back where I'm staying in Germany, in a very secluded Oestrich-Winkel near Frankfurt. I've tried Currywurst both in Berlin and where I stay (didn't try Curry36 though), and it's a great snack but I just don't get the hype! Isn't it just sausages with tomato sauce and curry powder? Or am I missing something?

  5. I was at Cafe Schmidt in 1995 and the chef was demonstrating how to decorate black forest cake, which we ate after the class. Truly life-changing cake! I'd forgotten the name of the cafe until now. Thanks for posting it and the photo. It hasn't changed in 16 years!

  6. wow, 1995! I'm glad this post brought back memories to you!(:

  7. Blackforest cake is my most favourite dessert ever (believe me, I am a total maniac and fan of this trio - chocolate, whipped cream and cherries). I always try it whenever I travel to different places and it always tastes differently. Until last week I had never tried blackforest cake from the "roots" i.e from Schwarzwald region in Germany. But I always considered it as my gourmet "Mecca" :) So eventually I decided to go there for holiday and I took advice found here on your blog - I went to Cafe Schmidt and had a piece of cake. What a disappointment!! Well, it tasted ok, but what was the worst then? I had to go to Schwarzwald and try a "real" blackforest cake only to realise, that the best cake I've been eating all my life is here where I live - in Krakow, Poland. Well, actually in one place - Slodki Wentzl at Rynek Glowny. In my opinion it has the best combination of chocolate sweetness and cherries' and cream's sourness, it's absolutely perfect. The cake from cafe Schmidt is not sour at all (as for my taste) it is mostly sweet (fortunately not too sweet) and that's why - insipid. I know from your blog you have been to Krakow already (sausage - very good choice, I agree it's the best ever) and not sure if you are going to visit us again, but if you ever happen to come back here - I recommend trying the cake made from Polish cream and cherries (maybe they are what makes the difference?) at Slodki Wentzl.

    1. Hi Ewelina, thank you for stopping by. The black forest cake I had at Café Schmidt was mind-blowing, and I cannot begin to imagine just how amazing the one you're recommending at Slodki Wentzl could be! Please don't be disheartened that your gourmet "Mecca" turned out mediocre, rejoice that the best black forest cake to your tastes is just a stretch of a hand away - lucky you!

      I would love to go back to Krakow, though it doesn't seem likely to be anytime soon. When I do, though, I will be sure to make my way to Slodki Wentzl. (:


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