The pretty leafy village of Wildenbruch is a few miles south of Potsdam in unspoilt countryside close to a lake. You can walk round the lake in about two hours; it’s also perfect for swimming, fishing and sailing.
During the 12th century a small church was built, traces of early wall paintings can still be seen. It was built as a fortress church where the villagers would have fled to in times of strife. Maybe they needed that strong protective building because Wildenbruch lay on a strategic military and trading route.
The village suffered through the turbulent years of the Thirty Years’ War. Plague took its toll too, as did the Napoleonic Wars. But from the 17th century there was a village inn. In the 20th century it was occupied by Soviet soldiers and badly neglected.
The Inn today
Howaever, in the 1990s the inn was rescued by Ralf and Bärbel Weißmann who realised its potential. It has taken years of hard work but they have succeeded in creating what we see today – the very charming Hotel Zur Linde, a restaurant with rooms and a cookery school. It is a venue that has become a firm favourite both with locals and visitors from further afield, for its extensive programme of events and for wedding celebrations. New for this year are courses on nutrition.
Originally the couple opened the inn more as a bar and disco, but quickly realised that people were coming to Wildenbruch for a day away from the bustle of city life. Ralf, retrained as a chef, and by 1995/6 the restaurant was serving good quality meals made where possible from regional and local ingredients.
Ten years later a conservatory was added to create more dining space, and then came the five stylishly elegant guest rooms, plus a small apartment, the cookery school and rooms for conferences. The garden has been redesigned and includes a children’s play section and a special barbeque area.
A cookery lesson
Ralf firmly believes in inspiring people to cook – and to enjoy doing so. He had wanted me to join one of his cookery classes but unfortunately there wasn’t one scheduled for when I was there. Never daunted Ralf decided that I should have a full hands-on cookery lesson in his own restaurant kitchen; which is how I came to spend two wonderful hours ‘helping’ his fellow, talented chefs to make the pumpkin soup and beef olives for dinner. I learnt so much and I am eternally grateful to Guido, Stefan and Bjorn for their patient teaching, humour and encouragement.
Dinner that night was indeed excellent. I have to admit however, that I can take no credit for any part of the sublimely delicious dessert. A.H.
Hotel & Gasthof zur Linde, Kunersdorfer St 1, 14552 Michendorf OT Wildenbruch. www.linde-wildenbruch.de