Lübeck, in Northern Germany, is near the coast and so fish – herring, cod and plaice, in particular – are local specialties.
As a fish-lover, I ate fish every day during our short stay. (I also ate a lot of fried potatoes. I can’t seem to resist potato if it’s on my plate.)
What I can resist is creamy sauce, which usually accompanied the fish. Creamy sauces are really not my style. Fortunately they were easy enough to eat around.
My favourite way to eat fish in Lübeck came in a sandwich (so no potatoes or creamy sauces). The German word for this is Fischbrötchen and the fish in the centre is herring (matjes), rollmops, salmon, Baltic shrimp or another local fish.
It was love at first bite for me and the herring sandwich.
I tried fresh herring and, later, pickled herring – impossible to choose a favourite. The herring has just the right amount of fishiness. And when pickled, there is just the right amount of sharp vinegarishness to complement the fishy flavour.
A place we especially liked was called Fisch-Hütte – a little kiosk with table service near the river. The Fisch-Hütte sold all manner of wonderfully fresh fishy delights (and pork) at very moderate prices.
Late night dining in Lübeck
Be warned: Lübeck is not like Italy. Restaurants do not stay open late this far north.
“The kitchen closes in 15 minutes” we heard a waitress say to some British tourists in a restaurant at 9.45 pm on a Saturday night. (This was a summer! What time do they close in the darker, colder months???)
Last summer I went to Vienna where the standard of coffee and cake is extremely high. Ever since then, I’ve lost all interest in cake that is not up to Viennese standards.
I’m not a food snob, I’m really not, but somehow Vienna made all other cakes very untempting.
But Vienna did not ruin Signor Lu for cake. In Lübeck he was constantly drawn to the bakeries where he sampled a variety of sweet things (but later decided their bread (brot) was what he really preferred).
We did not sample the marzipan – which is Lübeck’s signature sweet treat. Marzipan is very sweet, so people tell me. I don’t have a sweet tooth (yet I appreciate really good cake.) Just knowing that marzipan is very sweet is enough to turn my thoughts back to herring.
The only nice cake I had in Lübeck was a berry-flavoured number (a riff on Rote Grütze?) at the Niederegger cafè. With a cappuccino. For breakfast.
I don’t expect one single city to serve every type of food exactly the way I like it. That would be boring. And devastating to my waistline.
What I can say about Lübeck is that what it lacked in cake-appeal (as far as my tastes are concerned) it made up for in abundance with its fish.
P.S. I forgot to mention that Lübeck also has delicious berries at very reasonable prices at the market.