In the North of Germany food reflects the region’s proximity to the sea. Hamburg, in particular, is known for its seafood inspired cuisine. Lying where the Elbe and Alster Rivers meet, Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city state. Although the city is 120km inland it is home to Germany’s largest port which is also Europe’s second largest harbour. Germans refer to the port as their country’s ‘gateway to the world’.
The city dates back to 830 when people settled along the banks of the Alster River. The port was founded in 1189 and is steeped in maritime history. In Hamburg’s infancy, the busy port was frequently targetted by pirates. These days a more romantic notion of the city’s piratey heritage persists to the extent that a large statue of Klaus Stoertebeker, Hamburg’s most famous pirate stands proudly in a park.
An annual celebration of the ports birthday still occurs during the first week of May.Hafengeburstag plays host to old galleons, cruise ships and tugboats all of which open their doors to tourists. Firework displays wow the crowds made up of visitors from around the world.
With such a long maritime history it is little wonder that the cuisine of Hamburg reflects its seafaring past. Herring, plaice and cod dishes are served up in some of the cozy pubs and restaurants frequented by the sailors of yore. Labskaus, known also as ‘Sailors’ Stew ‘ is a delicacy made up of herring and salted meat which some might say is an acquired taste.
One of the areas most delicious desserts is Rote Grutze mit Vanillesoße. Made from berries and served with vanilla sauce, the dish is a much less fishy fare. Like all good pirates, a serving of this pudding must be accompanied by a tot of “Pharisäer” – coffee with plenty of rum.
How to make Rote Grütze mit Vanillesoße: Red Berry Pudding with Vanilla Sauce
What you’ll need;
The berry pudding
2 pounds of ripe red berries such as raspberries, strawberries, and red currants.
1⁄2 cup cornflour
The Vanilla Sauce:
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste
1. Put the fruit into a large pan and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil and cook until they pop or release their juice. Delicate fruit like strawberries and raspberries should be added last.
2. Add sugar to taste.
3. Dissolve the cornflour in a little water and then stir into the fruit. Continue to heat. When it turns clear, remove from the heat.
4. Spoon the mixture into serving glasses or bowls and chill for several hours until set.
5. For the sauce: whisk the egg yolks in a pan with the sugar and cornflour.
6. Add the milk and vanilla.
7. Cook over a very low heat until it thickens. Be careful to whisk constantly to prevent lumps.
8. Remove from the heat and once cooled, chill.
Serve the sauce over the fruit mixture and be sure to wash it down with a swig of rum infused coffee.