After the best part of a day spent in Sindelfingen rooting around in the undergrowth for edible greenery, I was ravenous. The caterers had messed up our lunch order, and there had been nothing for me to eat, so by mid afternoon, all I’d consumed since a pre-departure bowl of oats in Wiesbaden at 6am was approximately 22 wild plant leaves, one semi-poisonous berry and a grass-green banana and nettle smoothie. My stomach hurt.
Once the seminar ended, I headed outside for a quick stroll (and to look for sustenance). Sindelfingen is small and in part, very pretty, with lots of half-timber buildings and a surprising amount of public green space, but on a Saturday afternoon, it was also eerily quiet. As I hunted with increasing urgency for a snack – any snack – as I waited to meet my good friend Jen, it became clear that nothing was open at all. I found myself dreaming of the enormous vending machine I’d spotted at at Stuttgart railway station that morning, filled with an astonishing array of regional products to choose from if you needed to do a quick shop as you passed through.
By the time Jen picked me up, explaining that in this town, everything was shut between 3 and 6 on Saturdays, I was charging around the uneven cobbled streets like a rabid dog. So, just a note in case you’re visiting Sindelfingen of a weekend: bring sandwiches.
Jen collected me from a street corner, having accidentally formed part of a wedding procession in her car, and we made our way slowly out of town in a chain of loudly honking vehicles. We’d planned to eat in Singelfingen at a traditional Schwabian restaurant called Fässle, but the owner had broken her foot and declined to open up that day. (No stamina, these Germans.) Instead, we drove the short distance to the contiguous town of Böblingen that Jen calls home, to a small, plain pub adjacent to a neat plot of community gardens on the eastern outskirts of town.
Arriving just before opening time at 16:00 (which is pretty standard for this local, casual sort of a place), we briefly had the large room to ourselves before other seats began to fill with folk who’d finished up a good Saturday’s gardening. Our surroundings – wood-panelled walls, a huge fireplace and typically rustic wooden tables furnished with faded red napkins and potted plants – were cosy but, like the menu, very simple; the service and atmosphere that of a relaxed family-run business.
The menu offered a selection of straightforward German basics – a couple of Schnitzel, pork steaks with herb butter and fried potatoes, Zwiebelrostbraten (fried beef and onions in gravy) – plus a pleasing list of proper Swabian grub (Schwaben being a southwestern region of Germany with a very strong identity – and dialect). The culinary specialties from this area are very homely and simple, the best known being Maultaschen (large, ravioli-like pasta pockets stuffed with ground meat and usually served in a broth or with butter and onions), and meat dishes involving sour offal – liver (Leber), kidneys (Nieren) or tripe (Kutteln). Spätzle (egg noodles), Flädle (pancakes, often cut into strips), or Schupfnudeln (finger shaped potato dumplings) are generally served on the side.
Frustratingly, most of these dishes are off the cards for me. (In a rustic local place like this one, vegetarians and vegans will find their options extremely limited, too: you can hope for a couple of salads, but even the Spätzle will probably come with bacon in). I persuaded Jen to pick something off the Schwabian menu to satisfy my curiosit: she ordered Maultaschen in Eimantel (Maultaschen coated in egg) which came to the table as meat-filled pasta pockets sliced into strips and incorporated into a thin brown omelette. By this point I was so hungry that the whole menu was swimming before my eyes and I’m afraid wasn’t in the mood to experiment with tripe, so I ended up having pork fillet with pepper sauce and Bratkartoffeln (pictured top), which is not a classic Schwabian meal, but was a very good one indeed.
After food and drinks, Jen drove me back to Sindelfingen to catch my train. I’d had plenty of exercise, plenty of food (eventually), and my train journey back to Wiesbaden – rain trickling endlessly down the windows – was a very contented one, all the way home.
p.s. sorry for the lack of decent photos but, you know, first rabid hunger, then dinner with a friend I’d not seen in over a year. Priorities.
p.p.s. I’ve started (very enthusiastically) sharing my various excursions on my Instagram Stories, so do come along over there if you’d like to join me. On Wednesdays, I try German specialties on your behalf (#dietzeats).
Address: Ganseestüble, Sudetenstraße 45, 71032 Böblingen
Website: Ganseestüble (in German)