Tasting on Erfurt and Jena
The currency in Germany is the euro (€), and at the time of writing, the exchange rate was about €0.9 to US$1. All businesses are listed from most budget-friendly to least within each category.
- Coffee & drinks
- Desserts & ice cream
- Grocery stores
Coffee & drinks
During our walk around the historic old town, Tony took me to Max’s Hütte to get a couple of bottles of locally made radler (€1.30 each). Hands down, it was the most delicious radler I’ve ever had. The citrus part of it tasted more complex than just lemon juice. This beer store is where to go to find beers you can’t find in the grocery store.
Jena is about a 40-minute drive from Erfurt and is where Tony grew up. His favorite local brewery is Braugasthof Papiermühle, and I got to try their pilsner (€3 each + €2 mug deposit), which tasted light but a little hoppy.
They had a booth at Jena’s old town festival (Altstadtfest), which is a more traditional autumn party than Oktoberfest in this part of Germany.
Desserts & ice cream
This ice cream shop on the east end of the Krämerbrücke and owned by the same guy who runs the gourmet chocolatier next door. Their list of flavors is a little overwhelming, and a scoop of each flavor is priced differently.
Sampling is not a big thing in Germany, and I only got one of stachelbeere flavor (€1.50), which agreed with my palate with its tartness and slight creaminess.
I wanted to try the port wine one (€1.80) before buying it, but I ended up committing to it with a housemade waffle cone (€0.70), which made everything come out to €4. Pretty expensive ice cream!
The port wine flavor was a bit too sweet for me, and it started dripping out the hole in the bottom of the cone. They should’ve given me a napkin at least. But I admire their sense of adventure in the flavors they offer.
The story about the creation of Goldhelm Schokoladen includes how the founder didn’t have any traditional molds in which to pour his chocolate. Even today, his chocolate bars are poured without molds and are sold by weight (€6.50/100g). I bought one with toasted barley, and it was perfect. The dark chocolate is rich, and the barley is nutty and crunchy.
I passed by the Nahkauf by the train station every time I walked from Tony’s house to old town. It turned out to be a great spot to try some local foods. For instance, a couple of local varieties of apples were juicy and crispy (€1.99/kg). And I found sea buckthorns again (€0.99)!
Vita Cola (€0.65 + €0.25 bottle deposit) is a local competitor to Coca-Cola, and it has a slight citrus flavor. I liked the taste but much like Coca-Cola, it is too sweet for me to drink an entire bottle.
There was an array of various processed meats, and zungenrotwurst (blood sausage with pork tongue, €2.35) was the weirdest one. It turned out not to be my favorite combination of flavors, so I wouldn’t get it again. But hey, you gotta try everything once, including pork tongue!
In the frozen section, I found a box of Thüringer klösse (€1.99 for six), which is usually served with meat and gravy. I didn’t have either of those things, but that didn’t stop me from cooking the klösse with Tony’s help.
Boil a good amount of water, add salt, and turn the heat down once you put the klösse in the water so that it is still hot but doesn’t simmer at all; otherwise, they fall apart. They’re stuffed with croutons, which is what distinguishes them from klösse from other areas like Bavaria. The outer layer is very starchy and sticky. If you like carbs, you’ll enjoy these.
On the west end of the Krämerbrücke, there’s a very traditional bakery that almost exclusively sells loaves of different kinds of bread.
But if you go early enough in the morning, you might be lucky enough to snag one of their rolls. Every day, they make rolls in two flavors. Tony likes their savory ones, but the day I went, they only made apricot and chocolate. I got the last one (chocolate) for €0.90. The bread was fluffy, and they were generous with their chocolate pieces.
The Oktoberfest celebration in Erfurt felt like a lively small town party with rides, music, and food. Out of all the offerings, I tried two food vendors. The first was Heidi, where I finally got a Thüringer rostbratwurst for €3. The guy cooking the bratwurst jokingly chided in German about me taking pictures of the bratwurst on the grill before selling me one.
It’s a light color on the inside but not white like knockwurst. I squeezed local mustard and ketchup on top. Mmm…
For veggies, I found sautéed mushrooms for €3.50 at Zur Mühle.
The mushrooms and onions were doused in herb sauce and served with half a slice of toast. The other option was to get knobi bread (garlic bread). Not quite the healthiest way to eat your veggies, but it’s the best I could do at the festival.