Bad Oberdorf, Germany (Weltexpress). What’s that wild hare doing hopping in front of my headlights? One loud toot of the horn and it’s gone. Now I’ve got nothing against these crazed, hopping bunnies, you understand, but it’s something else I’m looking for: the red deer. King of the Forest, the red stag, which bears the largest rack of antlers in Germany, runs like the wind and leaps for the stars. Nevertheless, it still winds up in the kitchens of the Alpengasthof Hirsch, especially during mating season. For that is when they are somewhat distracted by the females and prone to land in the rifle sights of the hunters.
Over the years the establishment in Bad Oberdorf, first recorded in 1700, has been refurbished, reinvented, renovated, augmented and rebuilt, finally evolving into today’s Hotel and Guesthouse, including a ballroom and ice cellar. The present-day owner Manfred Wehn tells of how, in former days, the salt drivers would stop here on their route along the salt road and that later, the postal service would stop to rest and change horses – representing the inn’s first paying customers.
Originally called “bu Enderle“ – after a previous owner named “Endreß” – the hotel’s name likewise evolved over time into “beim Hirschwirt“. Nor was the town of Oberdorf spared a name change of its own. Its sulphur mineral springs inspired Prince Leopold of Bavaria to grant it the title of a Mineral Spa in 1888. Thus, since 2001 the entire valley – the parish of Bad Hindelang with all of its districts – has been elevated to the status of a Kneip Bath and Spa.
From bath to kitchen, where only fresh produce from certified farms of the Allgäu is used. One of these farms is owned by Hans Haslach, who supplies the kitchens of the Hirsch. His farm lies not far from Immenstadt in the Allgäuer Alps. He breeds his young cattle lovingly, keeps them in kindly conditions, and feeds them organically and 100% GMO-free. He vouches for “strict controls” and maintains that the feed is of major importance for the quality of the meat. “In the beginning, the calves are fed only pure whole-milk, later fresh grass, fragrant hay, silage and straw”, he lists, and reveals his secret for producing top quality meat. “I also give them spent grains and sugar beet pulp.” His animals, which are familiar with the open meadow as well as the cow stall, make their way to slaughter “completely stress-free”, for transportation from the farm to the slaughterhouse only lasts ten minutes.
The 80 members of the LandZunge (or “Headland“), an association of innkeepers, hoteliers and guesthouse owners of Upper Swabia and the Allgäu – which has recently expanded to include members in the federal states of Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria – have created a quality brand. “We obtain our meat freshly slaughtered from organic farms“. Wild hare and deer are mainly shot locally, as are the other game animals featured on the menu.
The menu is balanced with its focus on local cuisine and international specialities for its many well-travelled guests. ”Savoury snacks“, says Wehn, “are as popular as the subtleties of game“. On today’s menu is haunch of wild hare or rabbit “Woodsman style“ with chanterelles, but also ”false hare“ – meat loaf filled with pickle and egg.
“In 2007, we won a silver medal from the Bavarian State Ministry for excellent Allgäu and Bavarian cuisine,” the owner declares, proudly. Added to which, every three years since the mid-90s, the Alpenlandhotel Hirsch has won the Bavarian Environmental Gold Medal.
The Restaurant of the Alpenlandhotel with its three stars, as well as the added epithet “Superior“ is one of the loveliest and most varied, for none of its rooms resembles the other. As a picture speaks a thousand words: take a look at the photo series.
Health and relaxation take place outdoors in the Allgäu. ”Our Oberdorf is low in allergens – the lowest in all Germany – and hugely beneficial to allergy patients,” claims Manfred Wehn. Hiking and mountain tours, even toboggan runs, in this fairytale landscape in the Allgäu Alps with its ever-green meadows, thick forests and rushing mountain streams are inviting in both summer and winter. Alpine ski-slopes are located just outside the door. And to follow: unwind in a Finnish Sauna, bio-sauna, infrared cubicle, steam bath, whirlpools and special showers, ice springs and a relaxation room – all included in the room price. A physiotherapy practice offering a full service spectrum; from diagnosis up to individual therapy treatments is affiliated with the Alpenlandhotel Hirsch. Thai, Hawaiian and other massages are also available in “authentic atmospheres”.
Opening times: Hot meals served from 11.30 am to 1.30 pm and 5.30 to 8.30 pm. In the off season, days off vary: mostly Mondays. In high season, every day is a work day!