Sunday, September 09, 2007

Day 1: My Big Fat German and Italian Road Trip

My parents are over, and we’ve just started a driving holiday through Western Europe. I shall declare it my Big Fat German and Italian Road Trip.

I arrived in Frankfurt on Thursday evening and met up with some colleagues in the Dow Jones Frankfurt office for lunch. Thanks to Matthias, Frank and Connie for giving me an introductory German lesson, and introducing me to hanuta – yummy chocolate wafer snacks. For Australians, they’re kinda like inside-out Tim Tams.

I caught the train back to Mainz, a sizeable town about 30kms south of central Frankfurt, and reunited with the folks after their 3-day drive through Frrance. We met at the Mainz Hauptbahnhoff, dumped our bags and set off for an afternoon stroll around the Aldstadt (Old Town).

German architecture is quite distinctive – I have no real clue about which period of architectural history it comes from, but it’s colourful and ornate, and really nice to look at.

We made a bee-line for the Rhine – I didn’t realise it was such a wide river – and then mosied our way through narrow cobbled streets into the Aldstadt.

The Domstrasse (cathedral) dominates the square and there are heaps of little pubs and cafés around. The weather was good and heaps of people were out, having a quiet Friday afternoon drink. As we did too.

We were desperate to find somewhere to have schweinhuxe – roast pork knuckle with sauerkraut – which has long since been a favourite pig-out food in our family. Our recollection of pork knuckle from a little Bavarian restaurant in Sydney’s Beverly Hills brings back memories of hugely lardy, crackly pork, lots of gravy and cholesterol overload. But god it’s good!

A few beers into it, we set off in search of schweinhuxe, and our search ended successfully all of five minutes later, when we found a lovely traditional looking restaurant. We confirmed that they served this pork with attitude, and had ordered three before we’d even sat down. Our collective mouths watered.

Our three big shanks of pork arrived pretty quickly, complete with the symphony-inducing sauerkraut and a creamy horseradish dip, which I’d never seen or tasted. It was like white wasabi, and went fantastically well with the meal, although it had that wasabi-like tendency to nearly blow your head off.

This pork knuckle seemed to be a healthier option – not so much dripping with lardy crackle, but there was a good slab of it, and the pork itself was very tasty. More beers, and we toasted many times to the first of what we knew would be a bunch of spectacular German meals.

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