Stuttgart goes gourmet
Michelin Stars, wine, beer & chocolate await
Cynthia Elyce Rubin
The Norwegian American
Stuttgart, the capital of the German state of Baden-Württemberg in the southwest of Germany, is emerging as a foodie’s destination. This cultural city is stocked with Michelin stars, but more important are the longstanding regional culinary traditions, wine producers, and food companies that set the stage for Stuttgart’s tasty presentation today.
Of southwest Germany’s 85 Michelin-starred restaurants, 23 are located in and around Stuttgart, and eight are in the capital itself. Only two hours from Frankfurt and three hours from Paris, Stuttgart is an easy-to-reach destination.
First stop on a culinary tour is the Wielandshöhe Restaurant on the Alte Weinsteige (Old Wine Road). Not only is this a Stuttgart gourmet institution led by one of the city’s most popular chefs but it also provides a beautiful panoramic view of the city. The Wielandshöhe is considered a traditional establishment, but Chef Vincent Klink’s cooking is state-of-the-art. “We deliberately do not modernize our dishes, but rather aim for authenticity and goodness, not for flashy effects,” he says. In 1978, Klink, who grew up near Stuttgart, earned a Michelin Star, which he holds to this day.
Chef Klink recommends Feinkost Böhm as the place to go for all gourmets. Since 1889, the delicatessen has been producing specialty foods, certainly a lengthy tradition in the heart of Stuttgart. Located just around the corner from the modern art museum close to the Market Square, it is a perfect jumping-off point for visits to the century-old Market Hall, Palace Square, and Schiller Square.
Stuttgart’s Market Square, a historical site dating back to 1304, is typically a hive of activity during the week. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, many of Stuttgart’s inhabitants pick up their shopping lists and head for the Marketplace and Schiller Square for delicious local specialties. In late August, the square is dressed with bowers as it plays host to over 350 wine purveyors and 500 different wines from the region. At Christmas time, the square is abuzz with shoppers going from one beautifully decorated stall to another for charming gifts and decorations.
Next door, Palace Square is the heart of the city. Plan to visit this September when the Stuttgart Beer Festival will be celebrating its 200-year jubilee. From September 26 to October 3, in the middle of the Palace Square, people will commemorate the festival’s founding by King Wilhelm I of Württemberg and his wife, Queen Katharina. The “historical festival” will have nostalgic fairground rides and activities in the tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Palace Square is where you find legendary beer maker, Dinkelacker. Synonymous with the city’s reputation for hospitality and conviviality, Carls Brauhaus is home to Stuttgart’s famous Dinkelacker beers. Alongside typical regional fare, the pub’s wide-ranging menu offers a number of German and international dishes. A visit is rounded off with special beers from the family brewery.
Another homegrown Stuttgart institution is the coffee manufacturer Hochland Coffee Roaster Hunzelman. Started in 1920, this company remains in family hands and has grown and diversified into producing chocolates and sweets and packaged coffee for all of Germany. With a charming café overlooking the small Palace Square, Hochland is a must-stop for a morning or afternoon coffee break. Not far from the city center, the company offers tours of its coffee-roasting facility.
Wine grapes have grown in the region since around 300 CE. To this day, the city’s municipal vineyards cover an area of some 60 acres; that is more than in any other German metropolis. In the 19th century, the “Staffele”—steps and paths—were built to cultivate Stuttgart’s steep terraces more efficiently. During the wine months, locals frequent the Besen, or broom pubs. These are the temporary wine bars run by local vintners where you can enjoy wine and food for 16 weeks each year. A broom at the door indicates that the tavern is open for business.
Just 15 minutes from Stuttgart’s city center on the S train is the half-timbered town of Esslingen. This is one of the more charming cities in all of Germany, with houses crowded around cobblestoned streets and squares. At the center of it all is the award-winning sparkling wine producer, Kessler. Once the adviser to France’s Veuve Clicquot, Kessler returned to his native roots years ago and started his own sparkling wine cellar. Today, Kessler offers tours of his exquisite cellar, tastings in the old house, and a popular sparkling-wine bar.
The town of Waldenbruch, only 20 minutes from Stuttgart, is where they make the famous Ritter Sport, the square, fit-in-your-pocket chocolate bar created in 1912. Visit the store to taste and buy a range of flavors. For adults, there is the company’s hip art gallery (Museum Ritter). Kids enjoy the chocolate exhibition and workshop. If you are visiting during Christmas season, drive just one hour south from Ritter to the charming university town of Tübingen where ChocolART, the giant chocolate festival, held this year from Dec. 4 to 9, will present an extraordinary assortment of chocolate-related events, including cocoa painting, tastings, cooking courses, a creative praline workshop, lectures, and an extensive chocolate menu. It’s enough to make any cold-blooded chocoholic swoon!
Cynthia Elyce Rubin, Ph.D., is a visual culture specialist, travel writer, and author of articles and books on decorative arts, folk art, and postcard history. She is currently working on Enorme Amerika: Norske utvandreres postkort, humor og rariteter to be published by SpreDet Forlag in Oslo and is completing a manuscript on O.S. Leeland, Norwegian immigrant photographer who worked in South Dakota in the early 1900s. See www.cynthiaelycerubin.com.
This article originally appeared in the June 1, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.