German cuisine beats Italy, Spain in gourmet stars

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - If your image of Germany food is stodgy and fatty, think again.

German restaurants have overtaken Italian, Spanish and Portuguese eateries to become the world’s No. 2 holder, after France, of coveted Michelin three-star rankings which are meant to indicate “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”

Restaurants in the land more widely renown for sausages and sauerkrrenownaut than gourmet cuisine have earned three additional triple stars in the 2008 guide book to Germany that is being published on Friday.

It is the most the country’s kitchens have ever gained in a single year -- and nine German restaurants now hold three Michelin stars.

One of Germany’s new three-star restaurants is in Langen, near Frankfurt in central Germany, one in the Black Forest town of Baiersbronn and the other in western city of Saarbruecken.

This compares to 26 French restaurants holding triple star ratings.

Italy has 5 triple star ratings while Spanish and Portuguese restaurants share 6 triple star ratings.

But German’s position as second only to France could change. Michelin is yet to publish its 2008 guide for Italy and its 2008 joint guide for Spain and Portugal.

Michelin inspectors also awarded two stars to 15 German restaurants, four more than last year, and a single star to 184 restaurants.

For more than a century, Michelin, a French tire company, had published dining guides and now publishes 21 guides, including 17 in its European collection.

It expanded its coverage to the United States in 2005, where three restaurants in New York boast triple star ratings, one in Las Vegas and one on the West Coast, and is making its entry into Asia with the first edition for Tokyo due in November.