The next stop on my culinary road trip through southern Niedersachsen is Bodenfelde. In the forests around this little town on the Weser, one of the biggest projects of its kind in Germany has been running since 2000, when Heck cattle and Exmoor ponies were introduced to the Solling-Vogler Nature Park to maintain the oak forest as in centuries gone by. The Heck cattle arose by back-breeding the aurochs, a primitive wild ox which became extinct in the 17th century, and they now live here on over 200 hectares of woodland pasture. Visitors can take various paths through the over 250 year-old forest and might be lucky enough to spot one of the 60 animals.
Their meat, which is particularly flavoursome thanks to their grazing in the woodland pasture and the herbaceous meadows, can be sampled from September to November at the ox festival. This is when various restaurants and butchers in the region have this rare beef specialty from Niedersachsen on the menu. I buy some auroch salami and auroch ham at the Landfleischerei Schafft butchery in Bodenfelde to try it.