When Lee and I first travelled to Germany in 2011, I wasn't expecting one of the highlights to be German cuisine. What a pleasant surprise, then, to find myself proved wrong at our first traditional meal at the Zur Linde Gasthous in Swisttal.
Over the next days, and during later trips, we tucked into peppery beef in savory gravies, tender pork schnitzels, deliciously greasy fried potatoes, and—our favorite—buttery spätzle noodles. All enhanced by the ever-present, sour red cabbage side dish.
As Mennonites, we're used to many German foods, and even the new dishes we tried seemed vaguely familiar. Nevertheless, when we returned home I was delighted to discover a German deli/cafe in nearby St. Joseph, Missouri. I read about The Cabbage Roll in the newspaper and later tracked it down with my sister. It's a gem, hidden on a side street of St. Joseph, run by amiable people of German heritage.
The other day I met two friends there for lunch. Like one said, the place won't win any awards for presentation (German food, like traditional Mennonite food, tends to be all of one color and free of frills or garnish) but they should definitely win awards for their cake.
I'm getting ahead of myself.
First we ate cabbage rolls, pierogies, sausage, fried potatoes, hot German potato salad, and what the owner/waiter called your red: bowls of hot purple cabbage, well soured. All of it was tasty, especially the potato-stuffed pierogies and vinegary potato salad.
And now for the cake.
We watched sadly as the last slice of raspberry coconut cake landed on an adjacent table, but there was no need to mourn. We shared three slices of cake, rating them on a scale of 1-5. (German Chocolate: 4, Black Forest: 5, and Mandarin Pecan: 5.5, in case anyone's curious.)
That cake! Words fail. Let's just say that I shall return to The Cabbage Roll. (In case anyone's wondering.)