I spent last week in a three day, heatwave, whirlwind trip around three German places: from the far north of Hamburg to the south west Frankfurt and Karlsruhe. I'm afraid that, other than the building complex I had a meeting in, the only thing I could note about Karlsruhe is that it's twinned with Nottingham and Nancy. But the sun shone and whilst I waited for another colleague to finish inside my assistant and I had a sunny sandwich and impromptu status meeting on a bench.
Hamburg is my German base and a lovely city. I hope that when I go there for one week (in two weeks time) that the weather is as beautiful and I can enjoy the Alster lakes properly.
An overnight trip to Frankfurt was my first time in the city. Actually (as is often the case) I didn't make it to the city centre but was based in a dorf just outside where our agency's offices are. We stayed in a very eccentric B&B and after a full day of meetings were invited out to dinner by the agency team. There were six of us, all women, including one colleague from the international team that I first met in 2000 and despite my moves from London, New York, Paris and Reims and hers from London to Copenhagen, we've always kept in touch. In fact she was the person to give me my first freelance project last year.
We headed towards what I was told was a typical Frankfurt restaurant. I'll admit my prejudices conjured up some dark, smokey restaurant and I wasn't over optimistic about the cuisine. Once we had made it past Gerty, a sprightly 85 year old woman in charge of the parking spaces, we headed into a large garden area packed with locals and decorated with twinkling lights as dusk fell. Our orders were taken by a middle aged, mustachioed man who was more interested in giving us his opinion rather than taking any orders. I have to say it was the best meal I've enjoyed in a while. We were served local apfelwein and the seasonal speciality asparagus. Here in Frankfurt, as in the Champagne Ardennes, the asparagus is the large, thick, juicy white variety that I had never tasted until I came to Reims. The asparagus (or spargel) was the centre piece of the dish with the schnitzel, new potatoes and hollandaise sauce served as sides. Dessert was what I can only describe as what tiramisu would be if it's main ingredient was apple.
So that was my list of firsts - Frankfurt, asparagus of the season and my first al fresco dinner of the year.