Culinary journey through the wintry north

Admittedly, after enjoying such a big feast during the holidays and the turn of the year, many think: Now it’s perhaps time to eat a little healthier again and enjoy smaller portions on the plate. But less does not necessarily mean worse. Quite the opposite. People who pay attention to their diet usually also appreciate good, varied and regional products. And that’s exactly what Schleswig-Holstein is all about.

Anyone who embarks on a culinary journey in the north soon discovers: The land between the seas has a lot more to offer than you might think – and that includes winter!

Winter is cabbage season. And there is hardly a vegetable that is as representative of Schleswig-Holstein as the “Dithmarsch” white cabbage. If you’re out and about on the west coast in autumn, you’ll be amazed at the green splendour of the cabbage fields. The people of Dithmarsch even pay homage to their crunchy vegetable every September at a festival lasting several days – the Dithmarsch Cabbage Days. But even after the main season, cabbage is high on the menu in winter. If not fresh from the field, then from the jar. The German classic “sauerkraut” belongs in every well-stocked northern German larder. But how about an exotic variation? At the KOHLusseum in Wesselburen, cabbage enthusiasts have come up with something very special and given the vegetable a new look. The “coastal kimchi” harbours a real explosion of flavour and adds a spicy-regional touch to your next Asian home-cooked dish. Not only does it taste delicious, but with its valuable lactic acid bacteria it is also really healthy – perfect for your resolutions in the new year.

But the KOHLosseum doesn’t just sell sauerkraut, coastal kimchi and many other cabbage delicacies. Far rather, it offers a cabbage experience centre where visitors can observe in real time in the cabbage workshop how the vegetable is prepared and learn why the district of Dithmarschen has actually become the largest cabbage growing area in Europe, and how much of the vegetable is processed in the sauerkraut factory alone. A culinary experience that can only be found in the true north!

Farm shops make up the north

But, of course, it doesn’t always have to be an adventure centre when it comes to buying fresh regional products from the north for winter cooking. Farm shops with homemade food can be discovered all over the country. They stand for a love of the region and high-quality food.

A little further north along the west coast from Wesselburen, you will find one of the most beautiful examples on the “Nordstrand” peninsula. Even the drive to Baumbach's farm shop is a real treat, as it takes you right through the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site. The shop is located directly behind the dyke and offers fresh lamb and products from its own Galloway cattle farm all year round. The Baumbachs also have something regional up their sleeves for vegetarians. The “Inselbratling” from Löwels Feinkost consists of regional vegetables and grains and is refined with real Sylt sea salt. Even meat fans will be left wanting more.

Award-winning young chef at Hotel Birke

Of course, you don’t always have to be in the kitchen yourself to enjoy delicious regional food from the north. Restaurants are a plenty here. But not all of them can bear the “fine local cuisine” („Feinheimisch“) seal of approval. The network of agricultural producers and manufactures in Schleswig-Holstein stands for responsible, environmentally friendly and sustainably produced food and goods.

Our culinary journey continues to the state capital Kiel. There, on the idyllic outskirts of the city, is the Ringhotel Hotel Birke with its restaurant “Fischers Fritz” – one of the fine local cuisines in the north. Chef Pierre Binder is joined at the cooker by Ove Wülfken, who won the award for best young chef.

For him, it is the appreciation and love of regional products that make up North German cuisine. Likewise, he said, it was the people in the region who distinguished the art of cooking with their calm and composure. It’s all about tasting, smelling and feeling what our beautiful state has to offer in terms of cuisine. Typical regional specialities such as lamb from the dyke meadows, freshly caught fish directly from the North Sea and Baltic Sea cutters or game from the Holstein hunt, therefore, end up on your plate.

Waffles according to centuries-old tradition

If you still want to indulge in something sweet between coastal kimchi, lamb specialities and the “Inselbratling”, you will of course get your money’s worth in the many traditional and modern cafés in the region. However, the waffles – made according to the centuries-old culinary art form – are only available at Dat ole Hus in Aukrug. The small local history museum in the nature park is a real insider tip, and not only in summer. In winter, the rustic farmhouse parlours invite you to enjoy a cosy waffle feast of a special kind. Why are these baked goods the highlight here? The waffles are prepared over an open fire. This makes them particularly crispy and a sweet treat far-removed from what you might be used to from your waffle iron at home. This is accompanied by a good portion of homemade cherry grits and, of course, a cup of coffee. Well then – bon appétit!