There is nothing like mountain air to stimulate the taste buds. So where better than the Alps to explore not only spectacular scenery but to taste a confluence of international cuisine. The alpine regions of Germany, Switzerland and Austria combine to make up a large part of this world-renowned mountain range and as all three countries share borders, the interplay between their unique personalities make for the ultimate foodie road trip.
Often pragmatic, mountain food is simple and filling and accompanied by an excellent Reisling or local beer will be sure to sustain you through a day’s exertions on the hills. So below are some suggestions of some must-try cuisine:
1. Oldest Sausage Kitchen in the World in Regensburg
One of the best places to enjoy true Alpine cuisine is at the Wurstkuchl Tavern in Regensburg, Germany. Located close to this historic city’s iconic Old Stone Bridge, it is the oldest sausage kitchen in the world. The house favourite, small pork sausages with homemade sauerkraut is best enjoyed with a local beer, and a brewery tour at Kneitinger Edelbiere is a treat for every beer connoisseur. Regensburg, dating back almost 2,000 years, has 1,500 listed buildings and a vibrant cultural scene.
2. Smoked Beer in Bamberg
Visit Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its traditional old quarter and home to more than 60 breweries, which are best experienced on a beer tour. The city’s speciality is smoked beer — the expertly smoked hops make for a crisp, crafted finish that is unmatched and complies perfectly with the 500‐year‐old German beer purity law.
Two popular brands are Schlenkerla, known as liquid bacon due to its unique taste, and the lighter version, Spezial. After enjoying a healthy Maß (full litre mug of beer), take a stroll through the city’s medieval old town.
3. True Schwarzwald (Black Forest) Specialities in Baiersbronn
For a more eclectic dining experience, the picturesque Black Forest town of Baiersbronn (just under 16,000 inhabitants) is home to no less than eight Michelin stars, split among three restaurants. Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube combines classical and eclectic techniques, using only the very best venison, fish and produce from the Black Forest and features such dishes as grilled duck liver with cherries, caramelised hazelnuts and almond milk. At Restaurant Schlossberg, the menu follows a precise, clearly thought-out dramatic sequence, while at Restaurant Bareiss, Chef Lumpp expertly restyles classic dishes and recipes.
4. Alpstein Chicken in Lucerne
Across the border in Switzerland, you’ll encounter more than German: German, French, Italian and Romansh are the four official languages, but English is widely spoken. Stop in German-speaking Lucerne at the Terrace Restaurant at Hotel des Balances and enjoy a pan‐fried breast of Alpstein chicken with a froth of tarragon tomato tagliatelle and seasonal market vegetables, while overlooking the breathtaking Reuss River.
5. Vaudois Sausage and Chasselas Wine in Epesses
In Epesses in Western Switzerland, the language changes to French, as does the cuisine and the emphasis on wine. Grape and wine cultivation is the main industry here, producing dry white wines (mainly from the Chasselas grape variety), reds (Pinot Noir, Syrah, etc.) and specialities. Restaurant Auberge du Vigneron in Epesses not only specialises in providing the best wines of the region but also commands an expansive view of Lake Geneva. Make sure you try their Vaudois sausage with lentils.
6. Roast Veal in Ticino
For another Swiss lakeside dining experience, visit Grotto Borei above Brissago in Ticino, where the primary language is Italian. Grotto Borei overlooks Lake Maggiore and, like Auberge du Vigneron, boasts an extensive wine list. The roast veal is divinely prepared and served at rustic stone tables on a terrace a half‐mile above the lake.
7. Käsknöpfle in Bregenzerwald
In the Bregenzerwald, Austria, gourmet is much more than just a word, especially when referring to cheese. Here, the secret is in the ingredients—not what they put in the cheese, but what they put in the cow. Livestock in Bregenzerwald eat fresh mountain meadow grasses and herbs, and the milk and cheeses are as fresh and delicious as the ingredients.
Try the local speciality called Käsknöpfle at one of the gourmet MundArt (mouth art) restaurants, such as the Gasthof Hirschen in Schwarzenberg. The term “MundArt” has two meanings: the local dialects spoken there and the creativity these restaurants demonstrate when cooking up mouthwatering regional delicacies.
8. Marend in Tyrol
Austria’s Tyrol is the quintessential Alps, with its tiny mountain villages surrounded by wildflower‐strewn lush valleys and towering alpine peaks. It is also known for its cured meats, cheeses and farm‐to‐table mountain dishes.
The most famous is the hearty Tyrolean “Marend,” a delicious snack with dried sausages and salamis, cheeses, freshly grated horseradish, and pickled vegetables, served on a wooden board with homemade bread. Be sure to try it at one of the 123 authentic Tyrolean inns bearing the quality seal “Tiroler Wirtshaus.” Each inn proudly showing this green sign stands for true Tyrolean hospitality and local, fresh cuisine.
9. Weiderind in Salzburg
Another region known for high-quality farm‐to‐table food is the Salzburgerland, the region surrounding the city of Salzburg and producer of an unrivalled quality meat.
One of the best meats is the Weiderind, a tender beef raised in the midst the lush Alpine meadows nearby. Just outside of Salzburg, the Hotel and Gourmet Restaurant Gmachl specialises in meat dishes and offers the Weiderind in many mouthwatering variations. You should also stop by their butcher shop and check out the assortment of local sausages.
Feature image courtesy of Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus e.V.
Photographer:Florian Trykowski / Fotografie