Without any preplanning, our first few days of our European cycle touring ride became a mini Tour du Spargel or Tour du White Asparagus. The trip segment in southern Germany was marked by the region’s known spring culinary delights: spargel or white asparagus, cherries, and strawberries. Also for two villages, the rides were marked by local blue painted bikes.
Locals can be serious about their spargel. It is evident in local farms where there are rows of spargel grown carefully under cover and underground in the soil with harvest from May to June. At German local farmers’ markets, the spargel were graded and priced according to their level of freshness. Spears plucked a few hours earlier that day and if spears were unbroken, they were more expensive.
During our rides outside of Freiburg, Germany to Basel, Switzerland and later to Karlsruhe, Germany near the Rhine River, we passed by farms with patches of spargel and sometimes, spargel stands. It was not unusual to see farm stands specializing only in spargel and cherries or strawberries. It was the start of strawberry and cherry season. Occasionally there were even bottles of local kirschwasser or cherry liqueur for sale, nestled amongst local white wines which have made Germany world famous. Some farmers at the local marketplatz or outdoor market under the soaring gothic Munster (or cathedral) in Freiburg, were selling a few bottles of their home wines along with fresh fruits and vegetables.
I even had spargel as my main dish for four consecutive suppers. The local culinary dish is spargel served with schinkel or air-dried, thin ham slices, similar to prosciutto, wrapped around spargel or served on the side. The whole spargel bundle was either wrapped with a thin warm crepe or sliced up pancake on the side and draped with a hollandaise or light butter sauce. It was all I needed for my supper entrée of the day after a breakfast buffet.
We were even treated by Jack’s uncle and aunt to a spargel brunch at a restaurant that specialized in spargel dishes. I had tried spargel soup and on another day, a spargel salad. Both quite delicious and both not at all typically served in any German cuisine restaurant in Canada since North American emphasis is on green
asparagus –a different flavour.
Even at one of the restaurants we patronized, they offered spargel ice cream.
As for the blue painted bikes, we noticed that two different villages on our different rides outside of Freiburg, planted symbolic blue painted bikes to mark a major bike route that we followed along with a German bike route map through the Black Forest region near the Rhine River. However spargel was a far more memorable beacon for this picturesque and bike-friendly part of southern Germany.
Our Bike Rides:
Freiburg, Germany to Basel Switzerland: 95 kms.
Frieburg, Germany to Strasbourg, France: 99 kms.
Between Karlsruhe, Germany and Weingarten, Germany: 40 kms. (round trip)