Next week, much of the Plastics News staff will be in Düsseldorf, Germany, covering the K 2019 trade show. At some point during our stay, we'll find our way to Bolkerstrasse 13 in the Altstadt neighborhood of Düsseldorf.
That's where you'll find Schweine Janes, a purveyor of schweinshaxe, or pork knuckle. It's basically a large portion of pig meat served with ample sides of potatoes and sauerkraut. In his 30th anniversary column for Plastics News, senior reporter Bill Bregar described this dish as "something you could imagine Fred Flintstone demanding that Wilma fix for dinner." That's a pretty good description.
The pork is cooked over a vertical grill — essentially a wall of flame — that's immediately visible to the left when you walk in to Schweine Janes. There's some seating inside, but many people sit on tables outside in front of the place.
Like the Chipotle burrito, schweinshaxe is something that when first seen makes you say "I can't eat all that." Five minute later — aided by German beer — the entire thing is in your stomach. It's a culinary magic trick augmented by the dim evening light and shimmering cobblestones of the Altstadt.
Schweine Janes currently has a 4.5 star (out of 5) rating from 84 reviews on Yelp. A visitor from California described its signature dish as "straight up breathtaking pork knuckle. … This is the solid authentic German eats you are searching for. ... Among the best meals I have had in Germany."
(In her own 30th anniversary column for Plastics News, reporter Audrey LaForest makes a joking reference to a meat-free version of schweinshaxe which she calls "soyhaxe." I really hope German authorities didn't see Audrey's column. If they did, she may be detained at the airport.)
So if you find yourself wandering the Altstadt, hungry and exhausted after a long day at Messe Düsseldorf, just look for the place with the pig statue. Enjoy!