Franconia - well worth a visit.
One of the best things about my job (and there are many) is the fact that I get to meet some truly wonderful people and make new friends all over the world. It is something that I always appreciate and never take for granted. This thought was firmly at the forefront of my mind as I returned home to London after a recent weekend spent in Nuremburg.
The new friends that I made - Eva and Nicolas own and run the family run Zur Schwane Hotel and winery in Volkach in the heart of the Franconian wine making region. I had conducted a limited amount of research on the Hotel and also this region of Germany - it is a habit of mine not toresearch too much as there is nothing better than visiting a place to be prepared for some surprises. Another lovely friend I made - Susan who runs the Franconian wine tourist board drove me to Volkach - the village was so beautiful and picturesque and I knew that I was in for a treat.
I was greeted at the Zur Schwane by Nicolas and less then 5 minutes later I was sipping a lovely glass of Silvanian wine that was produced on their wine estate. Silvan is a type of grape specific to the Franconian region and Zue Schwane produces some of the bestSilvanian wines available in Germany. Most wine connoisseurs associate Germany with Reisling but I am happy to report that Silvan wine is making an impression on the international wine stage as well and our friends at Zur Schwane can be thanked for this as well.
With half a glass of wine polished off I was then whisked off to the kitchen to meet Head Chef Achim to find out more about Franconian food and the type of food that is served at the restaurant at Zur Schwane. No amount of research beforehand could prepare me for the surprises and treats that were in stall as the food that the Chefs are cooking at Zur Schwane is very special indeed! Local produce informs the menu at the Hotel and the Chefs are cleverly combining traditional Franconian fare such as pork and beef with contemporary ways of cooking. I learnt many new German words and phrases over the weekend but by fay my favourite and for some reason the easiest to pronounce was “Schnabberli”. Schnabberli is like a taster menu and at the Schwane it consists of delicious bite sized morsels and starters. The very experienced Head Chef Achim let me stay with him in the kitchen for the afternoon to watch him prepare the evenings Schnabberli. I could see and taste some very traditional German flavours here but the real treat for me was how the Chefs are confident enough to present the traditional food in a very contemporary way. Nikolas was so kind as he had printed out each dish that was served so that I could cook the little treats myself. All equally very good but if I had to pick my favourite it would be Volkacher Kummereles Soup (chilled cucumber soup). I chose this as my favourite for I never knew that cucumbers prepared in this way could taste so good. In the photo attached is the complete Schnabberli that consisted of Skewers of beetroot and horse radish, Volkacher Kummereles Soup, Tart of masked cheese (Obatzter) and Frankkischer liver sausage strudel served with an excellent Red onion jam.
After cooking with Achim and the Chefs Eva and Susan then took me for a guided tour of the wine cellar below the restaurant and also out into the Franconian countryside to visit some of the vineyards. I knew the vineyards would be beautiful butnothing prepared me for how spectacular they were. My recommendation is to visit the region as I am sure that the photos do not do them justice – beautiful steep hills with views of the river Main and Volkach – simply breath taking!
Our hosts then treated me to dinner on return to Zur Schwane which was excellent. ZurSchwane is about an hour’s drive from Nuremburg – not a long distance in Germany. So many “firsts” on this weekend – Silvan wine, Franconian countryside and the icing on the cake – two servings of Schnabberli. Thank you to Eva, Nicolas, Achim and Susan for a great day, the first of many spent together I am sure.
For more information on Zur Schwane Hotel and Vineyards
For more information on Franconian wine
We flew with Air Berlin to Nuremberg (lovely staff and just over an hour from London)
For more information on Nuremberg:
hope you have a great time where I live (Nuremberg area), I am really excited about you being in the area, as it's a region of real good and tasty food and also of great regional products. Not the most famous area for food and drink, but really underrated for that and the wonderful landscape and the friendly people. Enjoy your stay and keep up the great work you do! Thank you for your inspiring books and TV shows, which I really love (and my family also for the way I am cooking now)
sounds (again) like you had an absolut wonderful time. Are you planning on trying some of the dishes you tried back home?