The way I see it, a planned international layover is the best kind of foodie bonus. If you already have a connecting flight home, why not step out of the airport for a night on the town to savor the local fare. On one recent trans-atlantic route this past September, I did just that. It was my fourth connection through Frankfurt this year. While FRA has its perks (sausage! pretzels!) I had a hankering for a heartier, more traditional German meal. The city of Frankfurt is famous for its Apfelwein taverns, local gastropubs serving up house-brewed apple wine, a kind of cider, in both sweet and sour varieties.
Many of Frankfurt’s Apfelweinwirtschaft, or ciderhouses, are located in the Sachsenhausen district. While many lean towards the touristic (the area is known for it’s dense population of bars, clubs and cheap hostels) you can still find a handful of traditional taverns frequented by locals.
Kanonesteppel Apfelweinwirtschaft is one of those places. Located on Textorstraße, the charming locale is tucked into a back courtyard, and like many apfelwein taverns, hidden from street view.
I sampled both “sweet” and “sour” versions of the housemade brew. The former is served with a small bottle of Fanta, to cut the sweetness of the cider which can quickly overwhelm the tastebuds. After a few sips, I was decidedly on team sour.
Being in Frankfurt for a few short hours meant that I would have to step up my foodie mission and focus on the best local fare, ordering dishes that set Frankfurt’s culinary scene apart from the rest of Germany.
Some things go hand in hand. With apfelwein, it’s handkäse, translated as “hand cheese,” a low-fat, translucent and slightly pungent cheese formed by hand. Handkässe is typically served “mit musik”, with vinegary raw onions, and accompanied by thick brown bread and butter. Amazing. The dish is meant to be eaten with one’s hands by spreading a thick slab of butter onto the bread and topping it with chunks of the flavorful cheese. This is a must-have Frankfurt culinary tradition.
Another Frankfurt specialty is green sauce. The sauce is so famous in these parts, there’s an actual monument erected in its honor. Green sauce is typically made from eggs, oil, vinegar and seven green herbs (borage, sorrel, cress, chervil, chives, parsley, salad burnet) and served with boiled potatoes and eggs. The sauce depends on the freshness of the herbs and is typically a warm-weather dish (think picnics on the banks of the River Main).
No German meal is complete without a hunk of boiled meat accompanied by a truckload of steaming sauerkraut. I went for it with a whole boiled pork shoulder, the meat so tender it fell from the bone. Apfelwein is made for dishes like this, a delightful, alcoholic applesauce that perfectly offsets each salty bite of pork.
If you find yourself with an international connection on your next trip, think about changing your ticket and turning your journey home (to avoid jet lag) into a foodie-themed layover. It’s an almost indescribable, dreamlike sensation to step into a new world for a few short hours to soak in the culinary culture without expectations, plans or travel-related stress. Because time is so limited, all you can do is be in the moment. Go ahead, try on a new destination and fuel your wanderlust.
Kanonesteppel Apfelweinwirtschaft is located at:
Textorstraße 20, Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt am Main
2010 Mileage Total: 67489