From good plain fare to multiculti
The capital of Lower Saxony is home to foods and flavours from all over the globe and offers a huge selection of specialities from the Mediterranean, Asia and Latin America. Good plain German fare is served not only in many local pubs, but also in top class restaurants. Foodies can look forward to creative crossover cuisine with highly imaginative culinary combinations.
Nearly every district has its own Italian or Greek. Turkish cuisine is also a firm feature, ranging from simple kebab shops to sophisticated eateries. The choice of Far Eastern venues covers everything from fast food to first class. The magazine “Hannover geht aus!” provides comprehensive information (in German) about the culinary scene in and around Hannover.
Queen of the vegetables and high-spirited dexterity
The traditional regional cuisine tends to be solid and substantial – as you would expect of the locals who, according to the regional anthem of Lower Saxony, “have their feet firmly on the ground and can weather any storm”. Most dishes are typically served with potatoes, sometimes in new-fangled variations, but first and foremost as good old boiled potatoes. In spring, asparagus is very popular: this finest of all veg tastes equally good with melted butter or hollandaise sauce and is normally accompanied with cured ham, a pork or veal escalope or salmon. When autumn comes around, it is the start of the curly kale season, which is traditionally enjoyed with a regional spicy sausage speciality.
Regional delicacies also include a platter of cold cuts and “wedding day soup”, a popular starter which contains tiny meat dumplings and egg garnish. Yeast cake topped with butter and almonds is traditionally served with afternoon coffee, while “Welfenspeise” a typical local desert consisting of blancmange and zabaglione, takes its royal name in reminiscence of Hannover’s role as the capital of the Kingdom of Guelph in the 19th century.
“Lüttje Lage”, a drink that is exclusive to Hannover, originates from the annual Marksmen’s Fair. The ritual has a strong alcoholic focus and requires two special glasses: one filled with Lüttje Lage beer, the other with clear schnapps. The trick is to hold the beer glass between thumb and index finger of one hand, and the schnapps glass between the middle and ring fingers of the same hand and then raise both glasses to your lips so that the schnapps and beer can be drunk in one go. The Lüttje Lage tradition dates back to the days of beer brewer Cord Broyhan in the 16th century. The Broyhan Haus – where the brewery pioneer lived – is now a gastropub in the city’s second-oldest half-timbered building.
Visitors who are interested in the history and technical aspects of brewing are advised to book a tour of Herrenhäuser brewery. In addition to the major traditional breweries Gilde and Herrenhäuser, Hannover also has a large number of microbreweries which serve their customers first-class home brew, such as Brauhaus Ernst August on the edge of the Old Town.
Excellent and unexpected
Hannover’s only Michelin star restaurant is situated in the only street in the region which is under a preservation order: Ole Deele in Heinrich-Wöhler-Strasse in Grossburgwedel, which has defended its star for four years. Other top class restaurants in and around Hannover which have earned a mention in the major restaurant guides include Titus, Die Insel, Le Monde and Tropeano Di Vino in Hannover, Gasthaus Lege in Burgwedel, Berggasthaus Niedersachsen in Gehrden and Gasthaus Müller in Barsinghausen.
However, discerning gourmets also appreciate creative culinary experiences outside the ranks of haute cuisine – especially when served in an original setting. For instance, who would expect to find top-of-the-range and outstandingly fresh cuisine at Theater am Küchengarten (tak), which is actually a cult cabaret venue? Or that “eat the world” offers culinary guided trips around the city? Hannover is also home to the World Of Kitchen (WOK), the only museum in Europe that is dedicated to this subject. Not to forget summer events such as Maschsee Lake Festival, outdoor venues including a large number of beautiful beer-gardens and rooftop terraces such as Schöne Aussichten 360°, Roof Garden or 6 Sinne Skybar Restaurant. Another tip for culinary aficionados is the solar-powered catamaran which cruises back and forth on Maschsee Lake from April to November and serves a fantastic Sunday brunch.
Souvenirs from the countryside
A trip to Lake Steinhude need not end when you return home as there are all kinds of regional treats you can take back with you, for example from the traditional eel smokeries. Some Steinhude smokehouses also offer guided tours – which are best accompanied by a drop of the hard stuff, such as the clear schnapps distilled at Warnecke’s in Bredenbeck am Deister. What’s more, a meal at one of the many countryside inns is the perfect way to relax after a hike on the tree-clad slopes of the Deister Hills. Another recommended souvenir from the region comes from Duprès & Co. in Neustadt am Rübenberge, the only makers of sparkling wine in Lower Saxony.