by Adriana Yampey, AFAR Ambassador
On my recent trip to Saxony, with Saxony Tourism and Avanti Destinations I was able to taste carefully prepared traditional German dishes with a Saxon twist. But beyond the great food, I loved the way many of the restaurants depict the region’s past and hold interesting stories, if you are willing to listen.
My first experience with Saxon food was the 1900 restaurant in Dresden. Decorated in 1930s memorabilia (to include a real size tramcar inside the restaurant) it offers delicious, and very sizable pork dishes and Saxon dumplings. Here I had the opportunity to sample quarkkäulchen, a type of potato and quark dumpling served with grated apples and cinnamon, an interesting and very delicious dessert.
Another must-try in Dresden is the restaurant Pulverturm. The former gunpowder tower has been restored and decorated in a way that takes you back to medieval times. With an open kitchen, you can see the suckling pig, roasting on a spit, as soon as you enter. Another sumptuous desert I sampled was eierschecke, a confectionary specialty of Saxony. One thing to not miss out on is the famous funnel drinking, called “Dresdner Trichtertrinken”. It’s a green liqueur called “Cosel tear” which people drink after the meal. Cosel was the mistress of Augustus the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony. The drink is supposed to represent her tears upon Augustus’ death.
No trip to Dresden is complete without a visit to Schiller Garten, dating from the end of the 17th century, and situated at the foot of the King Albert Bridge, on the shores of the Elbe River. For a few euros you can choose half a chicken with fries and a freshly baked pretzel, or a pork knuckle as big as your head, and wash it down with refreshing beer. Unfiltered and unpasteurized, it feels like each sip is a meal on the tongue. It is probably the most local thing you can do in Dresden.
While visiting Görlitz a great place to eat is St. Jonathan. The interior is cozy and romantic, with high ceilings and gothic arches. The managing director of the restaurant had a very small part, as the Chef, in the Oscar nominated movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, filmed on the streets of Görlitz. It was interesting to hear him speak about his experience although he and the rest of the town are used to big movies being filmed in Görlitz. Here I tried, for the first time, red beet soup and delicious steak tartar. Who knew I would ever enjoy raw beef?
I loved Leipzig for the relaxed atmosphere and diverse food scene. Panorama restaurant at the top of Panorama Tower was a special treat. It’s a fine dining restaurant that takes Saxon food to a new level of sophistication in a romantic setting, on top of the city.
A very interesting (and the second oldest restaurant) in Leipzig, is Auerbachs Keller, dating to at least the first half of the 15th century.
We had lunch in the Goethe Keller, probably the most famous guestroom in Germany, decorated with semicircular paintings depicting images from Faust. Painted by Andreas Bretschneide in 1625, they are among the most important urban and cultural history exhibits in Leipzig. Beside Goethe, Johann Sebastian Bach and Richard Wagner dined here. Be prepared to have huge meals of traditional Saxon food. As a final Saxon treat try the potato soup with sausages served at many cafes in the center of Leipzig.
Reflecting on my trip, having made my taste buds happy with the many Saxon dishes, I will have to come back with family in tow.
Germany-based AFAR Magazine Ambassador Adriana Yampey, who has also lived in Romania, France, Italy, Belgium and the United States, dreams of seeing the world and documenting it through photos.