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Foodie Highlights from Adventures by Disney, Germany

I’m back from another fun-filled, fabulous Adventures by Disney trip.

Neuschwanstein Castle -- Inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle

This time it was the “Once Upon A Fairytale” adventure that covered the Germany destinations of Heidelberg, Waldeck, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and Munich.

There were castles and historic villages, archery and the coolest museum tour imaginable (Steiff bears EVERYWHERE), but I’m sure you’re not surprised when I say that the highlight for me was the food.

All the many permutations of schnitzel, spaetzel and strudel are too numerous to mention (truly, we ate schnitzel and spaetzel every day), but here is a taste of what else we saw and tasted.

The World’s Largest Wine Cask

Our first official stop of the tour was Heidelberg Castle. From a foodie perspective, the big attraction was the world’s largest wine barrel, the Heidelberg Tun.

Our guide informed us that the Tun holds more than 55,000 gallons of wine. While long empty, it was actually functional for a number of years. But apparently wine stored in 55,000 gallon barrels is kind of nasty. Who knew?

So the giant-cask contents were used to hydrate servants and other common-folk. Royalty and nobles were served from normal-sized bottles.

The world's largest wine barrel.

Zum Güldenen Schaf Restaurant

During our second evening of the trip, we dined at Zum Güldenen Schaf (Golden Sheep) restaurant on the Hauptstrasse in Heidelberg.

This sprawling venue was decorated with heraldic symbols, portraiture, and charming hand-carved benches.

Hand carved sheep bench at the "Golden Sheep"

Dinner started with a choice of salad with prosciutto-wrapped goat cheese or a creamy potato soup.

Among the dinner options were pasta with mushroom sauce and pork sausage rounds with potatoes and sauerkraut.

Pasta with mushrooms.

Pork with potatoes and sauerkraut.

Salad with prosciutto-wrapped goat cheese.

The true centerpiece of the meal was our entertainment. The restaurant’s owner, Dr. Karl Kischka, joined us to demonstrate the favorites from his vast collection of antique musical instruments.

The children were even allowed to try their hand at some of them, including an ancient hurdy-gurdy.

Restaurant at Schloss Waldeck

Days three and four of our trip were spent at Schloss Waldeck, a converted castle on the shores of Lake Edersee.

We had both dinners and breakfasts at the in-house restaurant. Our first night choices were roast beef with red wine sauce, goulash with creamed vegetables, pike perch filet with mustard-dill sauce, or salad with fried chicken breast.

I chose the goulash, mostly because I wasn’t sure what exactly it would be. I was thrilled with what turned out to be a savory veal stew with a side of flavorful carrots.

Schloss Waldeck menu

Tomato and basil starter salad

Schloss Waldeck bread and butter service

Roast beef at Waldeck

Goulash at Waldeck

Pike perch at Waldeck

Salad with chicken at Waldeck

Waldeck dessert. Ice cream with berry compote.

Breakfast at Schloss Waldeck was served buffet-style, as were all our breakfasts on the trip.

In typical German fashion, there were cereals, breads, yogurts, fruit, and lots of sausage and cold meat selections. The food was yum, but the thing that most caught my eye was the jelly service.

Next to the lovely jam selection were one-inch-deep bowls made of wafer ice cream cones. The idea was to use the “cone” as a transport vehicle for your jam, allowing you to take a nice serving to spread back at the table, without getting the sticky sweet all over your eggs or other savories. So clever!

Waldeck breakfast jams. Note the mini cones.

Some of the Waldeck breakfast meats.

Hands-on Food Activity: Pretzel Making

Days five and six of our trip were spend in the medieval walled village of Rothenberg ob der Tauber. Our hands-on food activity there was at the family run Bäckerei Striffler (Striffler Bakery).

We were lead into the commercial kitchen at the back and given a lesson on proper pretzel shaping technique.

Pretzel dough, divided into equal portions.

Pretzel shaping lesson.

Watering the pretzels before baking - so the salt sticks.

Of course the best part was when we got to eat the finished product.

Delish! Fresh, hot pretzels.

Schneeballen

While pretzel making was fun, our entire group became obsessed with one of the other products of the bakery: the schneeballen. A specialty of the town, there were at least a dozen bakeries within a ten minute walk of each other with glorious schneeball displays in their windows.

We quickly learned that schneeballs were strips of sweet dough which were layered, formed into a ball shape, and then deep fried. Some versions were enrobed in chocolate or dusted with powdered sugar. Others had jam slathered in between the balls’ layers.

Let’s just say that in two days’ time I became quite the schneeball connoisseur.

Schneeballs!

Glorious schneeball mountain with schneeball fryer tool

Yet another festive schneeball display.

Our Adventure guides told us that much of the Epcot Germany pavilion was modeled on Rothenberg. So here’s my plea kindy Epcot food and beverage management gods: get thee some scheeballs at Epcot to make it a truly authentic experience.

And seriously, how fun would it to get to walk around Epcot saying “schneeball” all the time?

Breakfast at Hotel Kempinski

Our home for the final two nights of the trip was the spectacular Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski in Munich.

We were quite busy with touring during our Munich days, particularly visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, which was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. So we didn’t get to spend as much time as we would have liked dining at this super swanky hotel.

You can tell a place is posh when your breakfast view is the Cartier shop.

But we did get to partake of their abundant breakfast buffet.

Some of my favorite details were the numerous fresh-squeezed juices including basics like orange and grapefruit as well as more unusual choices like strawberry and kiwi.

There were also open bottles of champagne set out so you could make you own mimosas or cocktails at will. A lovely way to start the day if I do say so myself.

All fresh squeezed

The rest of the buffet was equally bountiful, with enough substance to get you through the morning and well beyond.

Bacon and sausage

Hash browns and broiled tomatoes

Mushrooms and more sausage

Scrambled eggs

Cold meats and condiments

Breakfast cheese selection

Cereals

The children in the group were particularly fond of the whole honeycomb, displayed in the bread room (yes, an entire room devoted to breads and pastries), which they could scrape to dislodge honey for their toast.

Part of the bread display

Pastries

The honeycomb

Because of the prominent Asian clientele, the Kempinski also keeps the breakfast buffet stocked with Asian favorites. This was the create-your-own-soup station:

Asian soup station

Hofbrauhaus

Our farewell dinner took place at Munich’s famed Hofbrauhaus. During the day, we had a brief peek at the main beer hall.

Elaborately painted beer hall ceiling

We were able to make a quick detour to see the private stein storage area. Apparently the regulars are allowed to keep their own beer steins at the biergarten, under lock and key of course.

We were told that some of the steins had been handed down through families and used at the Hofbrauhaus for generations.

Private stein storage

For the actual dinner, we had a private room upstairs, complete with our own traditional German entertainment.

LOVE the accordion

Dancers clad in drindle and leiderhosen

Ready to eat

The hearty family-style fare included potato dumplings, potato salad, cheesy spaetzel, pretzels, roast chicken, sausages, and roast pork. With apple strudel and vanilla sauce for dessert.

Potato dumplings

Spaetzel

Roast chicken

Potato salad

Roast pork, with pretzels and sausages in the background

Beer

It goes without saying that each stop on the tour had a plentiful supply of beer on hand. There was even an afternoon session devoted to beer tasting.

Unfortunately, a minor child crisis prevented me from attending this. But I did make sure to sample a few of the local brews along the way :-)

I had Heidelberger in Heidelberg

Paulaner was another favorite

Maypole representing the seven breweries of Munich

Me at the Hofbrauhaus. When in Rome ... uh, make that when in Munich :-)

Packaged Treats

I’d be sorely remiss if I didn’t point out that the packaged treats available throughout our German travels were truly top notch: Milka bars, Ritter Sport, Kinder treats, and an endless variety of Haribo gummys were everywhere.

Our Adventure Guide, Nadine, a native German and closet candy addict, made it her mission to keep our tour bus stocked with the best of Germany’s packaged sweets. She even bought us all Kinder eggs, a treat now verboten in the USA. So fun!

Haribo bear practically begs you to indulge :-)

Milka!

Ritter Sport

And speaking of packaged foods. I’m happy to report that Mezzo Mix is sold throughout Germany, just as advertised at Club Cool at Epcot.

I never saw anyone mix it with beer, but were able to order it almost everywhere. My daughter Josie became quite the aficionado.

So foodie travelers, would you like to sample the German fare via Adventures by Disney. Are you willing to sign a schneeball acquisition petition with me?

And a digression: Has anyone else ever had this experience? You’re traveling, and you’re suddenly overwhelmed by the sensation that you’ve been there before. Only you haven’t been there before; it’s just that you’ve experienced a simulacrum at Walt Disney World. That’s what happened to me nearly every day of this trip. I found I was constantly poking my kids and saying, “Look, just like Disney castles,” or “Look, just like the Germany pavilion at Epcot.” Is it weird that the world reminds me of the World and not the other way around?

Let us know in the comments below.

Erin Foster is the Disney Food for Families columnist and a behind-the-scenes guru here at Disney Food Blog! Check out more of her posts here.

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16 Comments

  1. Raxl8 says:

    Re: your digression at the end. Yes! On our first trip to Colorado I kept taking photos of rock formations that looked just like Big Thunder Mountain. And I have to say I was pretty excited by that fact. In my family our reference point to the world is often WDW ….and I don’t think it’s a bad thing!
    p.s. How do I become a member of your family and go on these awesome trips with you?!?

  2. Erin F says:

    Raxl8 – Ha! There’s very difficult quiz you have to take – then you’re in :-)

    And the more I think about the digression, the more I realize that it really just means that the imagineers have done an excellent job of bringing the world to the World. The detail is truly remarkable.

  3. Kristina says:

    Erin you can add my name to your petition for Schneenball.
    Though I’ve yet to travel anywhere outside of North America, everyplace I go that has any remote similarities of the World are often met with the comment “but it’s better at Disney”.
    So I agree the imagineers are spot on and doing a phenomenal job!

  4. Anna says:

    Totally backing you on the schneeballen. I love them – well, the powdered sugar variety (not a jam fan). I think we’d have to call them something else, though. I always think of a bad Alec Baldwin holiday SNL skit when I hear someone say “schneeballen”.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Erin, I loved reading this. I am trying to get my picky eater husband to go places with me where the food is “different”. He looked at your pictures and thinks he just might make it in Germany without starving! Thank you!

  6. Erin Foster says:

    Kristina – Yep, most of the time it really is better at Disney!

    Anna – Have you had schneeballen in the US? I had never heard of them until Germany. I’d love to get a source at home, even if it’s not Epcot.

  7. KJay (Kelli) says:

    I’ve never heard of schneeballs before, but “Schnee-” is the start of my husband’s last name, and it translates to snow- I guess they do bear a resemblance to snowballs! (And I’d love to see those at Epcot, if only to have extra reason to say “Schneeballen” while walking through the Showcase). I never thought I was much a fan of German food, but this post may have swayed me. Bread room? Breakfast cheese selection? Hash Browns with broiled tomatoes? Fresh Strawberry & Kiwi juice? Sign me up.

  8. Jaia says:

    I love Rothenberg! Your pictures reminded me of some fabulous times. Breakfasts in Germany are amazing and delicious – definitely my favorite meal of the day when I travel there. Gulash is always pretty tasty though and well, the strudels can’t be beat. I was there during asparagus season once – they have an addiction to it so spargel was on every menu and on every dish, which was perfection to me.

  9. Anna says:

    Erin – I had them in Rothenberg during a trip back in 2000 – AFTER I saw them on a list of the worst traditional foods people keep eating. How could I not go try one? Way better than haggis – which is also on the list ;-)

  10. Kayla says:

    That 110% happened during my trip to Venice – my hostel was across the water from all the big Venetian landmarks, so every morning felt like I was taking the boat over to Epcot, except that Epcot is flipped from the orientation towers and the Doge’s palace are in real Italy.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Your tour looks amazing! Lots of jealousy. :)

    About your digression, I studies in China and visited Tiāntán, the Temple of Heaven, in Beijing and had to bite my tongue to keep from yelling at my travelling companions, “LOOK IT’S LIKE IN THE CHINA PAVILION, JUST HUGE.” (Definitely waaay bigger than in EPCOT though and with miles of grounds and several other temples, haha.)

    A very cool experience though.

  12. tkcanada68 says:

    I really enjoyed reading your review Erin- thanks so much for sharing your trip :) And if you are ever craving a Kinder egg and are heading north you can buy them in Canada> I live in Ontario and they even give them as the treat in the kid’s popcorn combo at the movie theaters.

  13. Karen says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I really enjoyed it. My husband has been wanting to take a trip to Germany. I’ve had my eye on the ABD tour but wasn’t that excited about Germany as the destination until now. How was the weather during your visit? Time to start saving my pennies, and dollars!

  14. Erin says:

    Karen – We took the trip at the end of August. No rain and HOT, HOT, HOT. If I had to do it over, I would go in the spring or fall.

  15. Ashley says:

    Glad you had a good time and you obviously enjoyed the food way more than I did. We went to Germany when I was 8 and after a week of the food I was more than ready for McDonald’s. Hope you made it into Käthe Wohlfahrt’s when you were in Rothenburg.

    I love Kinder Eggs and miss them so much! My aunt was stationed in Germany for 3 years when I was a kid & would send us boxes of them and we still have all the toys. Unfortunately they are now banned in the US, which is a shame.

  16. Allie B.C. says:

    Oh, wow, this looked like such an awesome trip. Makes me so nostalgic…I miss living in Germany. And that food! That goulash looks just like Mom’s, it had to have been good.

    By the by, just a small note, the traditional female outfit is called a “dirndl”, pronounced deern-dle, not drindle.

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