Taste Hiker Dinner Club // Bietigheim-Bissingen
Can you think of anything further away from Swabia’s distinct culinary tradition with Spaetzle & Co. than Sichuan pepper? Probably not. But then again: Aren’t Swabian Ravioli (Maultaschen) and Chinese Dumplings part of the same culinary family? This is, in a nutshell, the Taste Hiker approach: East meets West, or Asia meets Europe – turning cultural shocks into a taste experience of perfect harmony for 8 people in a private home, 25km outside of Stuttgart.
Qin (her name is pronounced ‚Tschin‘), host and chef of the Taste Hiker dinner club, is a true expert on cultural shocks – not only because she works as a consultant for intercultural communication, supporting German companies that enter the Chinese market. She is native from China, Sichuan, and came to Europe as a student almost 15 years ago. After 2 years in Norway she and her Palatine husband Roland finally settled down in a 40.000 souls city between Stuttgart and Heilbronn. Quite many of Qin’s childhood memories are related to the smell and taste of food from her home country. And to her father, a keen amateur chef who passed on his passion and knowledge to her. At the same time, her life in Europe has turned her into an always curious collector of new culinary impressions and inspirations that she openly absorbs and combines with Asian recipes and ingredients. Spaetzle and gambas with Sacha-Sauce: Why not? Chinese Dumplings with Sauerkraut: An almost obvious combination! And Sushi Italiano with Parma Ham and Pesto Rosso, or the Spanish variant with Serrano Ham and dates: Truly irrestistable!
Qin calls herself a ‘passionate culinary amateur artist’ which to me seems a bit of an understatement. She has an exceptional bent in creativity (including design and photography), and only reading the menu for any of the Taste Hiker supper club dates makes you think of a premium restaurant. What she serves is absolutely unique and cannot be found on any restaurant menu, nor in a cookbook. ‘Fusion cuisine’ might be a more or less appropriate term, but let’s rather say: It’s Qin-style, it doesn’t fit into any existing category. Qin is herself a Taste Hiker in the full sense of the word. Whenever she and Roland have time to travel, she seeks fresh inspiration for her cooking and instantly develops ideas for how to combine a newly discovered taste experience with Asian ingredients. But no less important to her than taste are the aesthetics of a dish. Food has to have that special ‘wow!-factor’ that makes your eyes shine, she finds, no matter whether it comes from a cook-shop in the street or a star-decorated restaurant. Her own benchmark is likely to be rather at the star-decorated end of the scale, her culinary compositions are a true feast for the eyes. Not just simple dishes, but colourful and delicate arrangements of food that look nothing but perfect! And if you neither live close by nor have plans to travel to the region of Stuttgart any time soon, you can at least travel to Qin’s extremely appetizing blog site: Küche ohne Grenzen or the English language version Taste without Borders provides you with her latest discoveries, the most beautiful pictures and even recipes, should you feel your own repertoire in the kitchen could do with a fresh little breeze from the East.
For anyone else: The Taste Hiker dinner club in Bietigheim-Bissingen opens once per month for 8 guests plus the hosts. 8 is the limit in order to keep the atmosphere intimate and family-like. Event dates get communicated via the Taste Hiker website and Facebook, the next one is on 12th April. Reservations are taken on a first come-first served basis, so don’t hesitate for too long. To cover her expenses, Qin asks for a contribution per person that can vary with the menu but is usually between €35 and €45. This includes an aperitif, 4-5 courses, water and the beautifully designed menu-card as a souvenir. Wine drinkers pay a little extra.