South West Germany

The country’s culinary capital

In Germany, the top foodie destination is SouthWest Germany. It boasts a quarter of the country’s Michelin starred restaurants – that is more than any other region. Here, organic, farm-to-fork produce is a tradition, not a trend. In spring, menus feature locally-grown asparagus, especially in and around Schwetzingen. Year-round, a regional favourite is Maultaschen (like ravioli), invented at Maulbronn’s medieval monastery. On the flower-filled island of Mainau, the restaurants overlook beautiful Lake Constance. Europa-Park, one of the world‘s best theme parks, features taste treats from across Europe. As for wines, some of Germany’s best grow here, in the country‘s sunniest climate.

Maulbronn Monastery: Eat like a monk – or king

Many of Germany’s most romantic and historic buildings are maintained by SouthWest Germany’s State Palaces and Gardens organization, whose theme in 2018 is traditional food and drink. An hour northwest of Stuttgart, at Maulbronn Monastery, you can learn about the discovery of coffee, tea and chocolate and the uses of herbal remedies based on aniseed and lemon. In the Klosterschmiede Restaurant, dine on Maultaschen, the delicious version of ravioli that was invented here by a monk in the 17th century.

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Mainau, Lake Constance: An island for all seasons

Mainau is about much more than glorious flower gardens. There is a foodie element, too. The chic, new eco-friendly Comturey Restaurant has a ‘green’ roof, and the chef features local, organic and Fair Trade produce for his exquisite dishes. As Mainau’s gardens are sub-tropical, with exotic trees, this year’s theme is “Baobab and bonobo – the fascination of Africa”, referring to tropical fruit and chimpanzees. From April to October, the island’s restaurants are offering typical African dishes: meat stews, falafel (chickpea patties) and chakalaka salad (cauliflower, red peppers and cannelloni beans).

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Europa-Park: The perfect short break for families and couples

On the edge of the Black Forest and easy to get to from the UK, Europa-Park was rated the world’s best theme park for the past four years. Each of the 15 areas reflects a European country, from typical food to architecture. Among more than 100 attractions and shows are terrific thrill rides. The park’s five themed hotels are four-star. New this season? Paddington Bear in the “England” area. Open March 24-November 4, 9am-6pm (later in high season).

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Schwetzingen: “350 Years of Asparagus”

Nothing announces spring more loudly in SouthWest Germany than “Spargel” (asparagus). The seven-week season for this delicate white variety lasts from April to June, but the tradition dates back to 1668, when Prince Carl Ludwig introduced this new vegetable to the aristocracy. Nowadays, everyone enjoys this treat, especially along the Baden Asparagus Trail, linking Rastatt, Karlsruhe and Schwetzingen, the “Asparagus Capital of the World.” Traditionally, asparagus is served with melted butter and potatoes, ham or hollandaise sauce. In 2018, the city celebrates “350 years of asparagus” with special exhibitions and workshops; the annual asparagus festival is on May 5.

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