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German bakery provides quiet atmosphere

Alabama student Grace Friday, a senior majoring in Spanish, checks out the selection at Edelweiss, a German bakery and coffee shop located downtown. CW | Lindsey Leonard

Laura Testino

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Ester Scheeff, owner of Edelweiss, moved from Germany to Alabama in the late 1990s, and opened the bakery in 2007. The streets outside her shop are wider than the streets of Germany, and the temperatures are much warmer, but the tastes of her food closely resemble her favorite German flavors, she said.

“I like to cook and bake – I’ve always enjoyed it,” Scheeff said. “I have three kids, so I was always cooking a lot.”

Although the menu at Edelweiss includes mostly German cuisine, not all of the patrons have a strong relation to the German culture, Scheeff said. Between the regular customers and other visitors, the most popular food items vary from week to week.

Ian Toy, a junior majoring in music therapy, stumbled upon the bakery over a weekend his parents were visiting and has been returning with friends to study ever since. Toy said he finds comfort in the quiet and inviting European atmosphere. He said he enjoys the breakfast sandwiches, bratwurst lunch and chocolate cappuccino muffins and can hear the occasional German words.

“It’s my favorite corner of the universe,” he said.

For Mandy Wilk, hearing German and eating currywurst as a cuckoo clock ticks back and forth on the wall is the ultimate reminder of her recent study abroad trip to Germany. Wilk, a senior majoring in German and music therapy, said she frequents the bakery as often as she can, which during the school year is about half as often as her two or three weekly visits during 
the summer.

“[Edelweiss] is very quaint and small, and it usually isn’t crowded,” Wilk said.

Wilk’s favorite pastry is the bienenstich, or a bee sting cake, which is a dessert filled with custard and coated with caramelized almonds. Friends who aren’t familiar with German cuisine enjoy the pastry, as well as the coffee, which can be refilled once per customer while in the bakery, 
Wilk said.

Alex Fraser, a senior majoring in civil engineering, said he visited Edelweiss every day or every other day over the summer to enjoy a refillable coffee and his favorite chocolate cappuccino muffin or orange blossom muffin.

“You can go there, sit down, read a book, and there’s hardly anyone there. It’s not complete chaos,” Fraser said. “You get there and have great coffee. And their pastries are to die for.”

The typical crowd includes students, families, professors and other business people, Scheeff said. The typical German food Scheeff prepares each day includes pastries that have a distinct texture and aren’t as sweet as American pastries, she said. The coffee menu includes plain coffee, as well as cappuccinos, lattes and tea with several options for 
additional flavors.

Edelweiss is located at 2324 4th St. and is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday until Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
on Sundays.

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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894
German bakery provides quiet atmosphere