Regional culinary treats

Chefs in Rhineland-­Palatinate have no trouble finding suitable regional wines to go with their excellent food. The sun-drenched vines and the typical terroir along the Rhine, Moselle, Ahr, Nahe, Lahn and Saar produce a wide selection of wines. More and more chefs are seeking to use as much local produce in their cooking as possible.

Indeed, the limestone soils of the Rhine-Hesse uplands are not only ideal for ripening very special grapes, they are also perfect for fruit. There is a long tradition of fruit-growing as well as wine-making. Obsthof Nickolaus, for example, has been growing fruit in fields around Mainz through the generations for more than 200 years. And the same applies to both vines and fruit trees: the fewer fruits on the tree, the more intense the flavour.

Thomas and Anja Nickolaus have their own farm shop at ‘Am Waldweg’ in Drais, selling home-grown fresh cherries, plums, apricots, apples and pears, together with jam and naturally cloudy apple juice. And you can try everything before you buy it.

One of their best customers is top chef Frank Gebert, who works in Gebert’s wine bar on Frauenlobstrasse right next to the banks of the Rhine in Mainz. With its cosy living room interior and vine-covered inner courtyard, the wine bar is among the most traditional and popular in the city. This also ties in with Gebert’s philosophy that the better the wine is, the better the food should be too.

Apple tree

Home-grown apple tree

It is important to Frank Gebert that typical dishes and old recipes, such as pheasant, kidneys and sweetbreads, are not lost in the past. Some people travel from far and wide to enjoy a calf’s head with chanterelle mushrooms and tomato vinaigrette, a dish best not attempted at home. “I love it when people who enjoy doing a lot of cooking come to me and say, ‘Your food tastes great.’

Buying direct from the producer has long been a matter of course for Frank Gebert. This applies not only to fruit and vegetables, but also to meat. “I want to know where the animals grew up and what they have eaten. The best thing is to use whole animals, then you get a completely different perspective of them”, explains Frank Gebert.

Typical dish in Rhine-Hesse with "Spätzle"

Typical dish in Rhine-Hesse with "Spätzle"

Tasting a meat dish at a vinery, Rhine-Hesse

Tasting a meat dish at a vinery, Rhine-Hesse

His menu is seasonal and flexible. Local hunters also deliver game during the hunting season. This sometimes makes for surprises: “I have been told someone is bringing a deer, only for it to turn out to be a wild boar.” Then, instead of ‘Local venison ragout with sautéed mushrooms, creamy savoy, home-made spaetzle (a type of German pasta) and cold juniper berries jus’ he simply serves ‘Stuffed wild boar stomach with wholegrain mustard sauce, creamy savoy and hazelnut croquettes’.

But the chef leaves nothing to chance when it comes to herbs: they must always be fresh and in good supply. And because very few houses in the city have gardens, Gebert’s herb garden is on the roof. “It is my mother’s domain and a perfect source of good herbs for me”, explains Frank Gebert.

More leisure tips in Rhine-Hesse:

More information about holidays in Rhine-Hesse

Find out everything you need to know on events, attractions and other destinations in Rhine-Hesse at Rheinhessen-Touristik GmbH.

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