I’m back from another fun-filled, fabulous Adventures by Disney trip.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Of course the best part was when we got to eat the finished product.
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.
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.
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.
The rest of the buffet was equally bountiful, with enough substance to get you through the morning and well beyond.
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.
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:
Our farewell dinner took place at Munich’s famed Hofbrauhaus. During the day, we had a brief peek at the main beer hall.
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.
For the actual dinner, we had a private room upstairs, complete with our own traditional German entertainment.
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.
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’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!
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.