Breisach, Germany is a true breath of fresh air. We arrive early in the morning on a crisp and sunny day, immediately venturing off on foot. This town made me think of a winding and pristine medieval fortress. There are levels and layers, each home more walled and tidier than the next. Traverse the cobblestone streets up to the cathedral for an amazing view. Hoof it back down to town for delightful shopping and eating. We dropped in to the outdoor seating area of an apparently unnamed tavern (or one simply lacking in personalized signage). This place was adorned with Alpirsbacher Klosterbräu signs and was situated on a quietly shaded side street. Initially we were a bit concerned as the proprietors had no other customers, yet seemed alarmingly negligent and absent. We hung in there though and were not disappointed. The chef in this hidden gem has mad skills. The mushroom tarte flambée was out of this world. It was a situation where I kept saying, “I’ll just have one more bite” and in the blink of an eye, the whole thing was gone. Crispy, creamy and rife with fresh herbs and spices. My companion was craving pasta, so skeptically went with the spaghetti with vodka sauce and fresh basil. I tasted it (as I tend to do) and it was mouth-watering with a fresh and creamy sauce, perfectly al dente pasta, and palate-pleasing fresh herbs. We happily washed these down with local libations before moving on to the Black Forest.
The Black Forest of Germany is picturesque. That’s it. No more. Plan for a slow and winding drive. You may stop for photo ops and most do, but you will not find many opportunities for dining or shopping short of cuckoo clocks and Black Forest cake. You will see some of the happiest livestock on the planet. You will also see countless tiny chapels in each village. These chapels might be likened to the tiny houses that are trending in home design now. They are that small. Each is charming and unique, built to meet the worship-needs of of the sleepy towns that sprung up as this area was trail blazed. On to Basel.
I freaking love Switzerland! Our day in Basel was remarkable. The public transportation is clean and efficient, reflective of the rest of the city. The people are both beautiful and friendly, all of which add to this town’s enthralling mix of old and new. A transplant from New York City who met and married a Swiss gentleman while working in the Big Apple simply loves her life in Basel. She sacrifices space and money to reside here though. She explains that Basel’s population during work hours is much larger than the after hours demographic. She stated that the savviest people work in Switzerland for the high wages, live in France for the lifestyle and shop in Germany for the low prices. The proximity of these countries makes this a wonderful reality for many. The open market in the center of Basel featured produce, cheese, sausage, local honey, and blooms of all varieties. The stand out was a food cart called Eiche. This rolling gourmand was half meat market (literally) and half grill. Freshly made sausages roll over an open flame, sizzling as they waft the amazing smell of sausage throughout the land. Belly up with five Euro and you’re in business. I have eaten a lot of sausage in my day and this was the best. So good that we went back for three rounds with zero regrets. To top it off, we visited Läderach with their sheets of freshly made melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. Again, the best chocolate we have ever eaten. We had to return to buy some to go. It was that good. These tasty bites made up our final meal of this European sojourn as it was time to head home. I will await my next visit (in October) with bated breath and immense anticipation. In the mean time, I think I’ll grab my giant rescue Mutt and take a good old-fashioned summer road trip back home in America. Stay tuned.