Food & drink
There's a new tour of Cologne's Südstadt that will tantalize your taste buds and teach you something new about the city - and what's more it's available in English. Eat-The-World's German language tours of Cologne have been running successfully for some years already, but now they've launched an English tour of the Südstadt and I went along to find out more. I can't tell you exactly where I went to as it will spoil the surprise for anyone else planning on taking the tour.
One of the nice things about living in Germany is seasonal food. For most people the sight of watermelons in the supermarket is a good indication that summer is on its way. Likewise a pumpkin or two heralds the start of autumn. In Germany you know it's really spring when everyone starts talking about white asparagus. It is possibly the most anticipated and exciting culinary highlight of the year. According to GermanFoods.org, the Germans munch through some 70,000 tons of the stuff every year - and that's only during the months of April, May and June.
If you like your burgers fresh, meaty and made from a cow, check out Fette Kuh in the Südstadt. Lunch times are a bit of a stampede as the place is small and popular. But the burgers take 15 minutes to fry so by the time your food is ready, a seat is sure to be free. In typical Südstadt style, the chips are freshly made, and there's a big choice of sauces. The plain hamburger is very good, but it's hard to resist the other choices.
There’s a new Vietnamese restaurant in Cologne where the food is simply delicious. LU may not have the best location in town, but it’s easy to get to. Situated on the corner of Hohenstaufenring and Zulpicher Platz, it’s that corner property that has housed everything from a doner-kebab place to a specialist hair product shop. The merry-go-round of owners may well have come to an end with the opening of LU. This clean and simply laid out little restaurant is a stylish, welcoming and pleasant place to eat.
This is going to be a bit controversial. Everyone in Cologne has a favourite ice cream parlour, and everyone insists that their's is the best. I've opened up this discussion in the past and it's always heated. I'll start by stating my preference: Il Gelato in Bayenthal. Nowhere have I eaten a creamier, dreamier ice cream. And the flavours! Chilli chocolate, black cherry with dark chocolate, Tiramasu, Mango, Rhubarb - and a number of rather unusual flavours like watercress. Il Gelato has its very own 'Ice Cream Professor'.
If you like fish you're in for a treat in Cologne and Düsseldorf over the next few months. The Fischmarkt is all about eating - not just fish - it's a veritable outdoor food-fest in the guise of a fish market. On the flyer there's a fresh lobster, prawns and crab on a bed of ice with a slice of lemon. Don't expect to find this at the fish market (at least not the one in Cologne). I think it was some kind of decoy. The closest thing to fresh fish I found was a dozen fresh oysters - but I wasn't dissapointed.
You can dress it up however you like, but a Halver Hahn is, and always will be a roll and a piece of cheese. I may have been in Cologne for nearly 10 years but I will never understand why the Kölners are so proud of their local dish. In Bayern they have schweinshaxe - a delicious and succulent pork knuckle with a crispy crust of crackling. The Schwarzwalders have black forest gateau, a dream of chocolate sponge, whipped cream and sweet black cherry syrup.
If you’re looking for a taste of authentic Brazil take a trip to Limao in Bonn-Bad Godesberg. There’s a distinctly ‘gaucho’ atmosphere in Limau, from the cow-hide stools to the stripped wooden floor-boards, Limau has a bit of an Argentinean flavor at first sight.
If you've lived in Cologne for any length of time, you'll know of Maca-Ronni. Once owned by the famous TV chef Alfred Bioleck, it used to be a 'promi-hangout' for the stars of TV and film in Germany. These days it has a different owner, but the walls are still lined with photos of all the famous people who've dined there, and you can order the 'Fettucine Boscaiola alla Stefan Raab' or the 'Pizza Vegetaria alla Harald Schmidt'.