When conquering a foreign city, a common thread can be very helpful. Just letting yourself drift is also nice, but it becomes exhausting at the latest at the moment when not only hunger but also the doubt that you have chosen the right restaurant gnaw at you. It was more than 20 years ago when, on a first walk through Moscow, we ended up in an international fast-food chain. It felt like a defeat. Today, there are food tours in many cities that save you from the wasteland of a burger chain with the same taste.
A food tour takes its participants through unfamiliar terrain, sometimes even off the beaten path, through small alleys and into stores that one would otherwise have regretfully left to the left. In Basel, a food tour is a particularly self-sufficient experience. Here you guide yourself – self-guided in foodie-speak – from station to station. The information content is not as high as on a guided tour, but in times of Corona you stay in your own group, set the pace yourself and get a lot for a price of currently CHF 29 per person.
Cult start in Basel’s oldest bakery
The starting point of the food tour with Kult is the bakery of the same name. Here, a young team has breathed new life into the bakery from 1726. Lea Gessler has been there from the beginning and sees herself as a cult mom and everything between management and production management. Self-confidently, they chose the name Kult in 2015: because the old bakery has always enjoyed cult status in Kleinbasel and because there is also culture in Kult and they also want to impart knowledge about good bread and pastries here.
The food tour of Basel begins at the second location of the bakery. Because here you can watch the journeymen bakers at work. Separated by glass panes, you look directly at the work tables and watch how peaks are shaped in no time at all.
The first snack of the tour is a bakery classic: fine Basel Gold with a drink of choice. The formalities at the start of the self-guided tour are quickly completed. You hand in your booking confirmation and receive a flyer with a description of the tour stations. The food stations are stamped on the flyer when you visit them. It is even possible to visit the locations on different days.
Read more about the Bakery KULT concept, which was implemented with the help of crowdfunding, in the interview with Lea Gessler. “Actually, the bakery came to us!”
Basel Unpacked. Shopping for food without waste
Another store with a special concept. At BASEL UNVERPACKT they focus on zero waste, recycling and sustainable preservation of food. There are organic products that customers fill into their own containers. Muesli, pasta, pulses, spices, dried fruit and much more is put into jars or Tupperware that customers bring along.
Avoiding waste, especially plastic, is the order of the day. As a foodtourer, you get two jars and can fill them with food of your choice. This stop is a successful idea, because if you are interested in food and good food, you should also get to know new sales concepts.
Foodcourt KLARA – crossover cuisine in Basel
Continue toward the center to the bustling Clara Street. The food tour flyer not only provides information about the stops, but also about restaurants and stores on the left and right along the way. Soon it’s lunchtime and you’re in the mood for something hearty. KLARA is a food court on the same-sounding street.
Here, at maximum staffing, nine nations cook typical country dishes. Food tourists get three vouchers for tasting portions and a free drink. An opportunity to effortlessly sample a few cuisines from around the world. Be it Israeli babaganoush or Eritrean injerra with vegetables, Japanese sushi or Thai curry.
Dessert – a glacé by the Rhine
Not far from the food court, on Rheingasse, is a small ice cream parlor with a large selection of glacés, as milk ice cream and fruit sorbets are also known in Switzerland. With three varieties of your choice, you stroll a few steps to the banks of the Rhine in Basel. In summer, plenty of Rhine swimmers trundle downstream here.
Lively hustle and bustle – Rhine swimmers in Basel
An extremely refreshing pleasure on hot summer days is swimming on the Rhine: Good swimmers surrender to the current between Wettsteinbrücke and Johanniterbrücke and let themselves drift down the Rhine. The locals pack their clothes into a swimming bag. The colorful “Wickelfisch”, a swimming bag in the shape of a fish, is an original Basel invention.
The last stop on the self-guided culinary tour leads to Spalenberg in Basel’s old town. In fact, it’s a bit hilly here. It goes through small alleys and past all kinds of interesting stores. The tour ends at HEJKOH, a classic concept store with a lot of Scandinavian design. Not necessarily typical Basel and also not new, but nice. With a drink of your choice, for example coffee from a Basel roastery or a ginger lemonade made in Basel, you can sit down on the exhibition furniture inside and outside.
If you have now had enough of shopping and eating, you can continue your cultural activities. Basel offers an incredible density of museums. One of the most visited museums in Switzerland is the Fondation Beyeler, which regularly curates spectacular exhibitions. After Picasso in 2019, American painter Edward Hopper is the crowd puller in the Corona year 2020.
From the central market square in Basel’s old town, it takes only 20 minutes to reach the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen by streetcar line 6. However, visiting the exhibition is currently only possible with pre-booked timeslots including mandatory masks.
The costs of the food tour were not calculated by the organizer