Romantic Road: German cuisine not the wurst

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ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER, Germany -- Eat well before you leave, because Germans don't know what good food is." That was the advice my editor gave before my trip to Bavaria.

With those words ringing in my ears, I braced myself for a vacation without any culinary delights.

But after visiting several villages and larger cities and never encountering a bad meal, I was armed with enough artillery to make my editor eat those words.

The first dining experience of the trip was in a small restaurant in the village of Rothenburg ob de Tauber. Located outside the entrance to the walled city, the Rodertor's specialty was potatoes.

After placing an order for Franconian potato soup with sausage as an appetizer and an entree, the waitress smiled and said, "I don't think so." The puzzled looks she received in return prompted her to further explain why ordering two items off the menu would not be possible. "The soup is enough. You don't need both."

Her advice was correct. The soup bowl overflowed with thinly sliced potatoes, fresh vegetables and sausage in a light broth. Better eaten with a fork than a spoon, the soup was more than enough for two, and the price was scant, about $2.50.

The menu was extensive and most meals were under $20, with such offerings as potato cordon blue (about $7) and bottom round beef steak tenders with butter creamed herbs, French fries and vegetables (about $14). Desserts, such as Franconian apple fritters with cinnamon and sugar in a vanilla sauce, ranged in price from about $2.75 to $5.

Dining in the larger city of Augsburg proved to be an altogether different, but equally satisfying, experience.

The Andechser was a large restaurant with seating on multiple levels; the bottom floor was designed with family-style seating in booths large enough to fit six adults.

An English menu wasn't available, but our waitress, dressed in a peasant shirt and a long skirt, solved that problem by sitting down with us and deciphering the menu.

Whether you're a meat lover or a vegetarian, the Andeschser's menu offers a variety of choices to suit a range of tastes. For example, menu choices included stuffed breast of veal, presented with sausage and a bread dumpling, and trout, which was served as a whole fish wrapped in parchment paper and cooked in a lemon and herb butter sauce. The price for two entrees, an appetizer of sausage with sauerkraut done in a beer broth and drinks came to about $35.

Even fast-food dining was a delicious experience. We combed the streets of Munich looking for a stand selling bratwurst. Without much success, we asked a newspaper vendor where to find good bratwurst, and without hesitation, he said the train station.

Skeptical, but without anywhere else to go, we made our way to the station and found the bratwurst stand.

We accepted from the vendor bratwurst as well as bockwurst, both served on a hot dog roll.

Once again we were given sound advice, as both choices were delicious.

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