Eating original Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in the Black Forest

I always found Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte to be a little bit “full on” as a child and can’t actually remember the last time I had one, until a few weekends ago that is when we made a 50km detour while driving around Germany’s Black Forest to reach Café Schäfer in the small town of Triberg.

What it's all about. The original recipe Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte

What it’s all about. The original recipe Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte

And why has we driven to to Café Schäfer in southern Germany? Well because confectioner Claus Schäfer uses the original 1915 recipe for his Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest gateaux). A recipe that layers chocolate cake infused with cherry brandy, whipped cream and sour cherries, which is then wrapped up in more cream and shaved chocolate. Mmmm! And this is our group expectently about to tuck in to it!

Keen to get started on the Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte

Keen to get started on the Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte

According to their website “If you want the true Black Forest cherry cake from the original recipe, you must come to Café Schaefer in Triberg”. Well they would say that but we were up for giving it a try.

Café Schaefer's tempting leaflet

Café Schaefer’s tempting leaflet

Café Schaefer's leaflet information

Café Schaefer’s leaflet information

So a bit of history in the leaflet above. Josef Keller was the inventor of the Black Forest cherry cake. He was the pastry chef in the Café “Ahrend” (today called Agner) in Bad Godesberg and in 1915 he created for the first time what he called a “Schwarzwaelder Kirsch”, or “Black Forest Cherry”. Josef Keller gave August Schaefer his recipe book which contained the original recipe. His son, Claus Schaefer, the current Konditormeister of the Triberg Café Schaefer, inherited the book and the original recipe and has thus been able to carry on making Josef Keller’s original. We asked where the recipe now is but was assured it’s safely locked away and for customers to see. Either way I found it to be delicious. I could certainly taste the cherry brandy, and it was a lot lighter than I remember. If you don’t like cherries then it won’t be for you of course.

The waitress was pleasant and accommodating even though we arrived just before closing time. But we were there long enough for the 5 of us and the 5 slices of cake to become quite well acquainted, all washed down with some tasty lattés. We were in Triberg for too short a time to see anything else but later found out about the House of 1000 cuckoo clocks that’s just up the road. Something to visit next time maybe 🙂

We were able to park directly opposite!

We were able to park directly opposite!

Café Schaefer window display

The Café Schaefer window display

Dreiländereck – walk across 3 countries in 10 minutes

A friend of mine turned 40 recently and for his birthday he wanted to fly into Basel, head to the Black Forest to watch some snowboarding cross, and then watch FC Freiburg in a Bundesliga game. The perfect opportunity to walk from one country, into another, into another then!

The Dreiländereck monument on Swiss soil. Not much to do there but it was a dreary day

The Dreiländereck monument on Swiss soil. Not much to do there but it was a dreary day

Dreiländereck (also spelt Dreilaendereck) is a tripoint just outside of Basel where France, Germany and Switzerland’s borders all meet. This tripoint is one of the only ones within a major city (Basel) and an iron pylon monument shaped like a rocket celebrates the fact … even though the actual tripoint is 150m NW of it in the middle of the River Rhine (the Dreiländereck scuplture is therefore 150m to the SE on Swiss soil). Ever the stickler for detail I wanted to walk across the two actual borders. I had my passport with me as I’d just arrived from the airport but never needed to show it once as everything’s open for you to walk “to and fro” as you please.

In total from my starting point in France, across the bridge into Germany and then down into Switzerland it’s a 9 minute, 700m walk. From the French starting point to the actual Dreiländereck monument it’s a 32 minutes and 2.6km walk.

Walking from France into Germany into Switzerland

Walking from France into Germany into Switzerland

 

To get there you will most likely arrive from Basel-Freiburg airport. Ask for a taxi outside to the ‘Passerelle des Trois Pays bridge’ (Dreiländereck bridge), or Huningen on the French side of the river, or just point on Google Maps on your phone like I did. The taxi cost from the airport was approximately €12.50 and was a 10 minutes drive. Exiting the airport from the French side “may” be cheaper unless both the French and Swiss sides share the same taxi rank?

The Dreiländereck Bridge outside the La Huninguoise bar in French Huningue

The Dreiländereck Bridge outside the La Huninguoise bar in French Huningue

Once you get dropped off you walk across the bridge from France (Huningen) into Germany (Friedlingen) with the actual border on the floor being unmarked (instead there’s a plaque on the railings in the middle of the bridge). The ideal time to post a social media status of “I’m in France”, followed by one 15 seconds later “I’m in Germany”!” I walked to and fro a few times before realising It was probably a bit strange-looking, especially as I still had my wheelie case hand luggage with me.

Walking across the Dreiländereck Bridge from France into Germany

Walking across the Dreiländereck Bridge from France into Germany

 

rhine-from-the-german-french-border

On the border between France and Germany looking out over The Rhine. France right, Switzerland left

From there walk down the bridge into Germany and you’ll see a bench to match the one on the French side with “Gemeinsam über Grenzen wachsen” written on the side (Grow together across borders). Quite apt in the current times what with the USA/Mexico situation.

“Gemeinsam uber Grenzen wachsen” – grow together over borders

From the foot of the bridge I walked onto German soil, past the Rheincenter shopping centre before turning right at the roundabout into Zollstraße. There, 150 m along near the German/Swiss border is a tram stop which looks like it’s a border control but is actually just a ticket booth for the tram. The border line is level with the centre of the spaceship-like building in the middle of the road marked with a 10cm wide line of stones in the ground.

Approaching the German/Swiss border level with those red/white barriers

Approaching the German/Swiss border level with those red/white barriers

 

The Dreiländereck monument on the left and bridge separating France and Germany on the right

The Dreiländereck monument on the left and bridge separating France and Germany on the right

 

Getting closer! 500m to go to the monument

Getting closer! 500m to go to the monument

I chose to walk along the main road, across the bridge into Switzerland, but according to Google Maps there is a slightly shorter footpath just across the Swiss border (taking 1.5km instead of 1.8km to the Dreiländereck monument). However up on the bridge it’s a nicer/safer walk and you get a good view of the Dreiländereck that you’re heading towards, which is on a long spit of land, jutting out along an industrial road. A scenic route it is certainly not, but it’s a destination to aim for so you can least say you’ve been there.

The monument has the 3 flags on its side but there’s little to actually do when you get there and little to read. For me walking across the borders was the enjoyable and novelty part, especially walking over the bridge from France into Germany. On a sunny, Summer’s day I’m sure it’s a lot nicer and you could sit by the river watching the world go by, with the nearby restaurants most likely being fully open. I imagine there wil be some pleasure boat rides too? Maybe you can boat from Germany into Switzerland instead 🙂

The Dreiländereck monument on a dreary February afternoon

The Dreiländereck monument on a dreary February afternoon