European hospitality puts anything I’ve seen in the US to shame. No offense to anyone here, it’s just…different. There are so many special touches and little things that are done to make guests feel welcome and cared for. They also take food very seriously…gourmet, fresh, local, artfully arranged. Obviously, I was in heaven. Eye candy, everywhere.
For us, on this trip, the hospitality began with my cousin driving two hours out of his way to meet us at the Frankfurt airport and deliver us to Monika and Werner’s house. Monika, of course, left chocolates on our pillows, bottled water and a fruit bowl to enjoy during our stay, and a US and a German flag in our room! So thoughtful! She had this beautiful arrangement in the kitchen:
We ate well in Kulmbach. Monika is FAMOUS for her dumplings, which I learned on this trip are made from potatoes! I never knew that before. I am totally baffled by this, because their texture is light and fluffy, like a dumpling made from flour.
We were also treated to a traditional dinner by Uncle George. Generally, Germans eat their heaviest meal for lunch, so a dinner of cold cuts, bread, and cheese is typical. George got these gorgeous trays from a local butcher, owned by friends of his.
Breakfast is usually coffee (of course), leftover cake and cold cuts from the night before bread, and a 3 or 4 minute egg. Watching me and Nathan attempt to decapitate the eggs as required must have been hilarious for the locals. But we managed!
Coffee in Europe, like hospitality, is just…better. Stronger, more flavorful, smaller portions. Yum. And, even coffee shops lay out the good china.
We ate well after leaving Kulmbach, as well; enjoying a delicious dinner at a trendy pizza joint in Munich. The pizza had truffles…yummy…It was so tasty, that I forgot to photograph it in my hurry to eat it. Topped off the meal with some pana cotta.
Europe of course is known for its lovely markets…and they provide amazing brown bag lunches for travelers. Just remember to bring your pocket knife to cut the bread and salami! Munich has an enormous, lively, bustling, abundant outdoor market near the Marienplatz.
The produce stands are encircled by meat shop after cheese shop after meat shop after cheese shop:
We left Munich well fed and continued on; in Klosters and later in Murren, it was our lodging that was just absolutely delicious. If you go to Europe, avoid the chains and large hotels; the smaller, family owned ones are just amazing. Here’s the Chesa Grischuna, a historic Klosters hotel:
You must go there. It’s on my top 5 places of all time. In Murren, the Hotel Alpenruh was charming and had spectacular views:
Check out this view from our balcony in each place:
And through the windows, we saw these views:
The meals served at our hotel in Klosters were divine..we loved the hotel restaurant so much that we ate there twice. Check out the cold berry soup, served in a stemless wine glass!
In Davos, we checked off one of the absolute musts in Switzerland: Fondue! We opted for one with bread, morel mushrooms, and swiss cheese.
Switzerland is known for another traditional dish: Rosti. Basically, it is shredded potatoes (think hash browns), piled with stuff and a bunch of cheese. The Swiss have figured out what my friend and fellow photog Eric Figeuroa argues: that everything is better with a fried egg on top. In our case, we ordered a Rosti with ham and mushrooms, and a starter of homemade tomato soup and creme fraiche. (“Creme” is one of my key words. I should be 300 pounds.)
Moving on to Interlaken, we were a bit weary of the meat and potatoes variety of Swiss-German cuisine, so we opted for the lighter option of Mexican food. This photo cracks me up, because it was such a tourist moment. Reading a guidebook, at a Mexican restaurant in Switzerland.
Our last stop was Zurich, where our lodging was NOT delicious. Do not, repeat, do NOT ever stay at an Easy Hotel. Oh boy. The room was tiny, didn’t have anything to set luggage on, and the bathroom was so small that we felt like we were in a space shuttle bathroom designed by Ikea. Yes, that is the shower 6 inches from the toilet, with a sink in between.
We did once again, eat well, however. We found a cute little Spanish restaurant, and Nathan checked Paella off his Life Eating List. Can you tell which plate is the one we were served, and which is the pile of shells? Betcha can’t. It was a bit ridiculous.
The service at this restaurant was truly, truly, remarkable. The host was also the server, and he plated the meals in the dining room. Our paella came out of the kitchen in an enormous cast iron pan, and he carefully arranged our portions on our pates after allowing us to inspect the pan first. There were two full plates each. I was literally in pain after this meal!
Finally, one cannot leave Europe without gorging on pastries. I think it’s illegal.
This beautiful shop in Zurich, Sprungli, is enough reason in and of itself to cross the pond.
Happy travels! – HBA