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The latest from the castle kitchen
Romantic Hotel at Wartburg Castle
Occasionally, Reinhardt and her entire kitchen team pop up to the restaurant’s terrace room in the late afternoon. The tables are already set in white, the polished wine and water glasses sparkle, and the comfortable wicker chairs are arranged invitingly. Together with her colleagues, she stands at the high glass windows and looks out into the dense green of the Thuringian Forest. Just for a minute, mindful and focused. “To savour the beauty of the moment,” says the head chef of the castle hotel, smiling in her quiet, unassuming way.
For almost 1,000 years, Wartburg Castle has towered on a mountain plateau high above Eisenach. A German legend cast in stone. The hotel, a charming half-timbered building with narrow gables, was only added in 1913, but even here there is something compellingly historical about the rustic ceiling beams, natural stone walls and arched windows. “Wartburg Castle is a special place,” says Reinhardt. “Luther ate here while translating the New Testament into German. It’s said that he loved pork, mustard soup and the berries from the garden. These are the stories that inspire me.”
For cheerful folk
An old wooden staircase leads down to the restaurant kitchen. Thuringian bratwurst sausages sizzle in a black iron pan for the lunch guests at the hotel’s inn, which bears the wonderful name ‘Für fröhliche Leut’ (‘For cheerful people’). The sausages are served with a blue fenugreek and mustard sauce from a nearby mustard mill. In the pot next to it, meat is braising in black beer, to be served with Thuringian dumplings and red cabbage. These are hearty classics of Thuringian cuisine, prepared by Reinhardt for the guests visiting the castle for the day. The Eisenach native only really unleashes her creative streak in the evening, when fine dining is on the menu at Landgrafenstube, the hotel’s gourmet restaurant.
Her hair tied back tightly, Reinhardt takes strips of pink salmon, which she has pickled in vodka, dill, juniper and salt.
She shapes them into rosettes and puts together a salad of red chard, leaf spinach and watercress. Then she takes a piece of lamb shank pickled with allspice and sears it in the pan with rosemary and thyme. It is accompanied by a green pea mousse and an unusual square dumpling. “I enjoy surprising my diners,” she says with a twinkle in her eye, “and I really enjoy combining the historical with the regional.” Reinhardt could not have found a better place to do that than Wartburg Castle.
Tradition with a light touch
She has found lots of old banquet menus in the hotel’s archives, and she enthusiastically recreates these dishes and gives them a contemporary twist. The ‘Calabrian-style broth’ served at the castle on 24 September 1896, becomes a ‘minestrone with bean puree’, while the ‘whole baked Rhine salmon’ is transformed into ‘salmon in brik pastry with saffron risotto and chard’. Thuringian classics are also given the creative treatment for the restaurant’s evening diners. Bratwurst, for example, is turned into an exciting starter with a potato and apple salad and freshly made tomato chilli, and guests who order the mixed ‘Wartburgvesper’ can look forward to, among other things, a miniature dumpling with sour cream, sauerkraut and a small game ragout with rosemary crumble.
Reinhardt’s mission is to use a light touch to give the traditional a contemporary twist. Extravagantly exotic dishes? The chef shakes her head. “Thuringian cuisine is where I feel most at home. These are flavours of my childhood. I worked far away from home for 22 years, including in Andalusia and Mallorca. Oh, how I missed our dumplings and our red cabbage! I still make the latter using a traditional recipe, by the way.”
Reinhardt returned from Spain nine years ago and joined the team at Wartburg Castle. At first, the verdant Thuringian Forest threatened to overwhelm her, she says. “All this nature and all this fresh air! I was totally unused to that. It’s such a wonderful spot here, I cannot see myself leaving any time soon.” She looks out of the kitchen window over the lush scenery and enjoys the moment for a second.
Discover more culinary Thuringia here.
© Gregor Lengler, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH