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Destinations in Germany
Flying in the face of stuffy German stereotypes, famously liberal and fun-loving Berlin has long been a magnet for pleasure-seekers.
Still a backdrop for sailors and spice traders, Hamburg has an extrovert energy fuelling its arty, ever-evolving nightlife.
Munich is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, filled with stately Florentine, Gothic and baroque symbols of wealth and power set against an Alpine backdrop.
As you might expect from a chef who trained under Ferran Adrià, Paco Pérez creates dishes that could pass as artworks, colourful culinary portraits painted in foams, jus and powders. But these are not just hollow theatrics – Pérez has a gift for combining flavours that has bagged him a quintet of Michelin stars over the years. Miramar, the seafood-slanted restaurant he set up with his wife in his hometown of Llançà, near Girona, has become a site of gastronomic pilgrimage (sea cucumbers are a speciality). Peréz has not confined himself to Spain, however. When he opened Cinco at the Das Stue in Berlin in 2013, expectations ran high. Within a year, its technically accomplished, Iberian-inflected, 25-course tasting menu had added another Michelin star to his CV.
German street food may conjure up stodgy Christmas Market mainstays, but Berlin's perennial hipness has influenced its gastro scene, bringing sophisticated snackage to the city's coolest corners, which means you're more likely to bite into Beijing Jiaozi dumplings and fresh ceviche than clutching a solitary wurst.
What's cooking? Nigerian Fufu (cassava balls with soup), Korean buns, British pies – anything goes, as long as it's washed down with something frosty and foam-topped.
• German's foodie fests are a frequent affair: Street Food Thursday (Thursdays, from 5pm–10pm) and Asian-night-market-aping Bite Club (every Friday and Staurday) bring the city's finest on-the-go chefs to the fore: we love Taco Kween's plump gorditas, Sababa's Isreali mezze and Brot and Zeit's hearty platters.
• For a little taste of weimar-era dining, time travel to vintage deli Rogacki on Wilmersdorfer Straße. Primly uniformed staff, dressed-to-the-nines lobsters and hams and dainty canapé platters make this a unique souvenir-hunting experience.
• Since the German Beer Purity Law slackened, Berliners have merrily knocked back steins of Ale Mania’s 19th-century Prussian-recipe beer (brewed with coriander seeds) and BrauKunstKeller’s smoky-citrus and malty-caramel ales. Sip them both at Oktoberfest's cooler cousin, Licht zum Bier festival in May.
Stay Das Stue's elegant restaurant Cinco earned a Michelin star within a year of opening – master chef Paco Pérez has already racked up four of the accolades.
Discerning foodies will admire the skilfully slivered truffes and cleaved meats served up at Cinco (Das Stue boutique hotel's divine restaurant). If you already know your Saji from your Tojiro Senkou (Heston’s fave) the next step is a hand-forged blade. For €200 (including materials) you can take a two-day metalsmithing course at Holzapfel, in association with the Berlin smithy. You might get a bit Thor, hammering your blade into sirloin-slicing submission, but when finished you’ll be carré-ing on with pride. Contact Holzapfel for details.
Stay at Das Stue. There’s not a whiff of curry wurst on Cinco’s à la carte; however, its chef Paco Pérez’s all-truffle and 25-course tasting menus that keep punters tongues wagging.