Meeting Wismar

I love daytrips.

Getting into your car and driving for an hour or two and to find yourself in completely new surroundings is a perfect way to spend a Saturday.  It’s been awhile since we have taken in a daytrip, and since we have lived in this area of Germany for almost a year, I decided it was time we started to get to know other cities other than our own backyard.  Sunday is traditionally our daytrip day, but because Little T now has swimming lessons on Sunday afternoons, we had to make it a Saturday.

I picked Wismar, as I like how it was described in our Frommer’s Guide and it was only an hour away. It is part of the Hanseatic League, and after noticing other cities like Hamburg and Lübeck also described as “Free (and) Hanseatic Cities” I finally looked up the meaning of Hanseatic.  Essentially, it was a group of cities with coastal access that formed back in the 13th century to protect their trading interests in foreign cities.  Lufthansa, Germany’s renowned Airline, is a part of this Hansa legacy.  To read more about the Hanseatic League, visit this link:

We took the “back way” there, which I love doing.  Even though you can drive as fast as your car will go on the Autobahn (provided there are no signs restricting speed), I much prefer to discover a new area by driving through small towns versus the boring landscape from a main highway.  As described in Frommer’s, the road we were taking showed the division of the former East and West Germany. While driving, Hubby and I tried to guess which areas were East and West. It is a privilege to live so close to such an important part of German history.

After we arrived and scored a free parking spot (which is very hard to come by), we wandered toward the Market Place which is the largest in Germany (10,000 square metres). Realizing that it was a Saturday, we took advantage of shops being open. It was so relaxing just walking through a shop, without a list of things that need to be purchased or having any kind of agenda.  We actually spent the longest time in a toyshop (to Little T’s delight). It made me smile to look at all the toys for babies and younger children, as it brought me back to those years of Little T’s life.  We came across a small chess set that was under four Euros, which we thought perfect for a restaurant diversion. Little T loves to play chess with his Daddy.

Feeling a bit hungry and ready for another cup of java, we decided to take a break at the first café we came across, which was right in the Market Place.  I am not much of a dessert or sweets person, but I was craving for something to go along with my Latte Macchiato so suggested that Hubby and I share something.  He ordered a cake made with rhubarb and gooseberries, which was delicious. I like how the German cakes are not so sweet – you can actually still taste the fruit they are made of.  While we were sipping our coffee and enjoying our cake, suddenly someone started to play the piano that was sitting right beside me. I turned my head to see who was playing such beautiful music to find a teenage boy.  While listening to his lovely playing, I looked around and felt my body fill with an incredible emotion of happiness. Such simple things really:   a cup of coffee, a tasty dessert, and being entertained by piano.

After our coffee pause, we went back to getting to know the city of Wismar.  It felt good to be outside walking in the streets, especially with the sun shining.  We decided to take care of what is always an important task during our daytrips:  where we were going to eat supper.  I found a few restaurant recommendations in our Frommer’s guide, one of which was a restaurant in building built in 1380 (pictured here). Looking at a building that was constructed so many years ago is so amazing.

The menu looked good and the ambience was inviting when dining with a 7 year old but when Hubby tried to make a reservation, he was informed that it was “honky-tonk” night and we were likely not going to find any restaurant in the city that wasn’t completely booked up.  The thought of Germans and honky-tonk was a rather odd visual, and having absolutely zero interest in that kind of music, we decided we were likely better off finishing our tour of Wismar and moving on to Lübeck for dinner.

While admiring the unique architecture of the city, which I find is very similar to Rostock and Lübeck, I was amazed at how the area could be so completely different than the city and area we live in. When we explore a new city, I like to walk the streets where people actually live, to get a feel for the stores they frequent and the schools their children attend. Then I think to myself:  could I live here?

We decided to view the coast before heading out.  While walking on the boardwalk, we came across some anchored boats that were selling smoked fish on a bun.  It was tempting to buy them and call it dinner, especially watching others enjoying them while still walking. On our way back towards the car Hubby noticed this restaurant that specializes in fish, and decided to go in to see if by chance they would have a table free.  They did, and were not taking part in honkey-tonk, so we decided to take advantage of being able to dine without tears in our beers.

The décor of the restaurant was casual and ship-like. At first glance, it’s the kind of place where it’s hard to tell if the food will be much good.  But, the menu was filled with delicious fish entrees, many of which were from locally caught fish. And, I noticed that they had a warning that all the food was freshly prepared so you needed to have patience while waiting for your meal to arrive. For me, it is exactly the kind of warning I like to see in a restaurant menu.  There is nothing worse than receiving your salad appetizer 30 seconds after you place your order, as you know it came directly from the fridge and was likely sitting there for four hours or more.

While sipping a glass of Riesling and watching Little T and his daddy play chess, our server brought us each a small plate with four squares of dark sunflower seed bread with a tiny bowl of…fat (Schmaltz)! I felt rather wicked eating it, but it tasted so darn good! Little T took one look at his plate before declaring YUK – not sure if it was the healthy bread or swirl of fat that disgusted him more.

Our meals arrived, and we were presented with two meals that equally looked incredibly appetizing (another good sign). Hubby and I typically share our meals half way through, which is an advantage as there are typically at least two or three things on the menu that we would like to order.  I had ordered gefüllte Scholle (stuffed flounder) that was filled with fresh cream cheese and herbs.  A very odd combination that I normally wouldn’t associate with fish, but it turned out to be completely heavenly.  On the side was an incredible melody of sautéed tomatoes, basil and sliced garlic in olive oil.  We eat a lot of tomatoes with basil (and mozzarella) cold as a salad, but never thought to make them as a warm dish with the addition of garlic. This is what we love about occasionally eating out:  coming across new ways to prepare our favourite foods. For potatoes, I had ordered Saltz Kartoffel which is simply boiled potatoes with salt. Nothing fancy, but when the potatoes are fresh and good quality, they can be a meal on their own. I love how the Germans typically serve the potatoes in their own bowl, which keeps them warm so you can enjoy one at a time.

Hubby ordered Dorsch, which is cod caught in the local sea of Wismar, that was swimming in a delicious sauce of what we think was just cream, butter and leeks and tasted like it was caught the very same day.  For his potatoes, he ordered Bratkartoffeln, which are previously boiled potatoes that are sliced and fried up with bacon and onions.  He likes to order them, as he claims it is one potatoe dish that he hasn’t been able to replicate in the kitchen.

Both of us were amazed at how incredibly tasty both meals were. In the restaurant brochure I picked up, I noticed that the restaurant was voted in 2010 as one of the best fish restaurants in Germany. It was no wonder.  But what impressed us both more is that our amazing meals were served in an unpretentious environment by a server who seemed truly happy to be host us. And, the cost was surprisingly inexpensive for the calibre of food served.  The combination of it all, especially having literally stumbled upon it, was mind blowing.  Nice to meet you, Wismar.

And to top it all off, while relaxing at home later and discussing what we were going to be eating for supper the next day (meals are an ongoing important topic of conversation in our household),  I learned that Hubby had bought steak at the market.

Somebody pinch me.  Second thought, please don’t.

2 thoughts on “Meeting Wismar

  1. you keep on exploring..need to know where to go next time we for the food…ahhh Schmalz..I grew up with that stuff..and ate tons of it…I still love it (even tho no longer eat it)…I love it when it has tiny pieces of meat in it and in a traditional polish fashion we ate it with pickles :)…those tiny french cornishons would go well too…just saying….:)


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