When you get an email asking if you would like to go to Germany, courtesy of Miele - the high quality domestic appliances and commercial equipment company, don't jump up & down and scream like a crazy person.... take a few deep breaths and calmly hit the send button with the words 'YES PLEASE'!! (Then you can scream with delight!)
So this is how I came to be on a flight early last week, spending 3 days in Germany with 2 people from Miele, 4 lovely ladies from the press and 2 other bloggers - Dustfluffgrit and Machines That Go Bing. We were flown to the Miele head office in Gütersloh, to visit the museum, showrooms and their state of the art factories; also included was a fabulous active cooking evening. In between, there was plenty of good food, wine and great conversation. We were accompanied by Jörg Huckenbeck from Miele, a very knowledgeable expert and an exceptional host.
After a short flight (just over an hour) we headed to Gütersloh, stopping off enroute at Waldhaus an de Miälkwellen, a very nice restaurant with a delicious menu. As this is a food blog, I couldn't help but take some photos of the dishes that I had while I was there - but by the end of the trip, no one even batted an eyelid! Anyway, I chose what was the best thing I ate during the trip (although later you will see that there were many 'best things'). It was a pumpkin soup with an amazing chilli oil and cream - something I am going to try to recreate when pumpkin comes back into season. This was followed by baked salmon on a bed of creamed spinach, served with roasted potatoes, and although we were all too full to choose a dessert, some German cheesecake was bought to the table. Of course, I had to try it and can report that it was very nice.
Now, on to the interesting part of the trip. You might not think that household appliances could really be that interesting - but when you see how they have evolved through the ages and how we have come to have the equipment that we use today, it is truly fascinating.
The Miele museum, whilst being very modern in design, has some wonderful old appliances that were developed over a hundred years ago. I loved the first butter churners, the wooden tub washing machines and the vintage vacuum cleaners. Everything is beautifully laid out, and you follow an illuminated red line, which means you don't miss anything. I discovered that Miele made bikes and even cars in the early days! The museum is open to everyone, so if you are ever in the area, be sure to visit.
That evening we went to a delightful restaurant, Glück und Seligkeit, where we had some wonderful food. Unfortunately it was quite dark, I think the lights were lowered and we ate by candlelight, so I was unable to take photos - I was wishing for my tripod and macro lens!
The following day, we were taken to the factory at Bielefeld. This is where the main production of the vacuum cleaners and dishwashers take place. I couldn't take photos here, but can tell you that it is an incredible sight, with state of the art machinery and equipment. The vacuum factory houses 83 yellow robots alone, they are almost human and quite mesmerising! We saw the minute detail that goes into the production and how every dishwasher is tested for perfection.
Lunch was at a very popular restaurant called Waterbör and the food was excellent. I had a magnificent platter of appetizers, including a large prawn that had been wrapped in a strip of potato and deep fried, lobster and smoked salmon. I then chose their 'famous' crispy duck, which came with fried potatoes and colourful red cabbage. Both of these two dishes were sublime and could become my new favourites, but then.... there was dessert. Another platter of fruit, fruit sorbets, nougatine ice cream and chocolate mousse. Heaven!
Trying to stay composed after all the food and wine we had devoured was quite difficult, a nap at this time would have been most welcome, but a visit to the Miele showroom and the Professional showroom awaited us. Here, there was much lusting over the household products and for me, it was the kitchen appliances!
There were a couple of hours of free time and I explored the town of Gütersloh, buying some Easter eggs from a chocolate shop.
Dinner was lots of fun - an active cooking event that we all participated in. I am going to do a separate post for this and will include a little on a new product - the combi steamer oven.
Our final day was spent visiting the Gütersloh factory, a huge tour including the pre-assembly, enamelling shop, electronics production, final assembly and the high bay distribution warehouse. There is even a train that comes into the plant to pick up the appliances for distribution. We saw the coffee machines being tested and went into an extremely cold testing room, followed by another room that tests products like fridges to see if they could survive in an extreme heat environment.
After lunch at the Miele guest restaurant, we had a presentation of the new combi steamer and were joined by one of the present owners, Dr. Miele! There was a closing discussion with Mrs Portmann from the PR department before departing for home.
Many thanks to the people from Miele for inviting me on the trip, to Zoe and Thom for looking after us, and to all at Miele headquarters for their time and hospitality. I had a wonderful time and will never look at a washing machine in the same way again!