For Florian Rohrmoser, there’s no better German dish than cheese spaetzle.
“It’s like spaghetti for southern Germans,” exclaims the spaetzle maker hailing from the montane Allgäu region. “Quick and easy. Trust me, any kid would be happy to eat it three times a day.”
You could say cheese spaetzle is the German equivalent of mac and cheese—squiggly egg noodles covered in piquant cheese for the ultimate bellyful of comfort. Spaetzle itself—maybe tossed with a little butter or some chopped chives—can be the trusty sidekick of a fine hunk of meat or goulash, but if it’s dripping in melting cheese, it’s the main attraction.
Since 2013, Rohrmoser has been the force behind the spaetzle food truck Heisser Hobel. He circulates among food markets in Berlin and southern Germany in a teeny converted 1971 East German camper van, serving homemade noodles draped in organic cheese produced by his parents in the mountain town of Bad Hindelang.
Today at the Street Food Thursday event at Berlin’s historic Markthalle Neun, he’s prepping chives and freshly fried onions before the imminent rush of dozens of hungry customers. The grated blend of Emmental and Bergkäse—a rich, nutty cheese hailing from the Alps—already sits to the side. “It’s a small production, just 2,000 liters of milk a day,” he says. “My dad gets bored and gets crazy ideas.”
The most important part is the dough. It has to be viscous, and “taste slightly too salty, as weird as it sounds,” says Rohrmoser. He has a professional machine that makes lots of noodles at a time, but suggests if you don’t, you suspend a colander over a pasta pot and push the batter through.
MAKE THIS: Cheese Spaetzle
A few seconds after the batter drops in, fresh little spaetzle globs wriggle up to the surface of the massive steaming pot. He ladles them out into another bowl. “They shouldn’t dry off too much,” he explains. “The dish needs some of the water the spaetzle were cooked in.“
Rohrmoser plops in a massive heap of cheese, stirring the gloriously melty mess together. “If you can’t get Bergkäse, it needs to be something with a bit of sweetness that tickles on your tongue. A strong taste like Swiss cheese—never Edam or Gouda!”
The spaetzle master piles the fresh batch of cheesy noodles onto a paper plate, throwing on generous fistfuls of crispy onions, chives and a fresh grinding of black pepper, handing it off to the next customer in line. Wiping a little sweat off his brow and grinning, Rohrmoser turns to the machine to do it all over again.