‘Better than Bunnings’: German sausages on the grill
While that bucket list trip to Oktoberfest will have to until next year, there's still plenty of places to get German food and beer to get your festival fix closer to home.
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OKTOBERFEST BRATWURST HUT
Customers travel far and wide to visit Robert Pfrogner, owner of Oktoberfest Bratwurst Hut, where he grills up premium free-range pork Wurst at half a dozen farmers' markets around greater Sydney.
It's that glaring contrast between a generic sausage sandwich and a hearty German sausage that motivated him to open the business, and interestingly, it was while he was selling jewellery at the Paddington Markets.
"I saw the queue 15-people deep for a basic sausage on white bread and thought about its (sausages) quality," says Robert, who explains that in Germany you'd only use choice cuts of meat to make them.
"In Germany, eating sausages is just eating good quality meat but in a different way. It's not devaluing it, it's the same thing but prepared with a different method."
A mere four days after this epiphany, he made his foray into the food
side of the market scene.
To his amazement, he sold 120 sausage sandwiches that first day. It's not surprising then that he named the venture after Munich's famed Oktoberfest which in its current form is renowned for mass beer consumption under ginormous tents, but the origins are actually related to a festival that was held to honour the marriage of the King and Queen of Bavaria, October 12, 1810.
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So that every citizen of the state could attend, the fields in front of Munich's gates were opened, and the festivities ran for five days.
The event was such a success that it became an annual event which in 1811 included an agricultural show to help Bavarian farmers.
"Oktoberfest is true Bavarian culture at its finest. It's all about quality, purity and beliefs," Robert says.
But to his legions of hungry fans, it's really about Bratwurst.
Available at the Potts Point, Marrickville and Shire Farmers' Market, as well as at Eat Street Wollongong, and other special events.
Barely a month after taking up residence in a new venue and still settling in, Oscar Zechner, owner of the popular Bavarian restaurant, Jägerstube could easily have taken a pass on this year's festivities, but instead, he's hit the ground running, furiously working to have this massive beer hall ready to roll towards the end of October.
"It's a little late but we had to wait for the beer to arrive from Germany," he says.
And it's not just any beer.
"We worked with a brewer in Germany and they created Jägerstube beer specifically for us."
While huge steins of amber ale are a big part of Oktoberfest, "it's much more than a drink fest, it's a cultural celebration with eating, singing and dancing".
Oscar notes that at any other time, there'd be a band and traditional Tyrolean dancers, but whatever is missing on the dance floor is made up tenfold by the kitchen, after all, it was a yearning for authentic German and Austrian food that motivated him and his brother Chris to open the original Jägerstube in Cabramatta in 2008.
Being from a culinary-inclined family, they envisioned a menu that featured simple traditional dishes but prepared to perfection by what ended up being three professional European chefs; after all, the signature items, pickled pork knuckle with a pork bone jus and cabbage rolls, needed to do justice to their grandmother, once a renowned chef in Switzerland.
In addition to the launch of their own brew, there'll be plenty of other specials including Spaetzle, bite-sized bits of egg pasta; chicken and pork Schnitzels; and the epic Jägerplatter with all the favourites including pork knuckle, German sausages, chicken Schnitzel and sides (minimum of two people, $45pp).
Additionally, if you happen to be there the second Sunday of each month, they've launched Essentials Market, an ever-expanding list of local vendors selling both food and household staples from all around Europe.
In the meantime, keep an eye on Facebook as they'll soon announce the exact dates for their 12th-annual weekend-long Oktoberfest, or more precisely when the beer finally arrives.
Open Friday and Saturday for dinner; and Sunday for lunch.
- The Croatian Club Braca Radic, 79 South St, Schofields
While Munich's Oktoberfest has gone dark this year, the spirit lives on at The Bavarian where each of its eight NSW locations will help satiate your quest for Bavarian fare and stein-sized pour of seven imported German draught beers, Hofbräu and Löwenbräu, the brands behind the festival's two largest tents.
Hearty beers call for hearty food and for that there is the Oktoberfest feasting menu ($39pp) and includes heaps of German classics such as huge buttery pretzels served warm from the oven, golden-crackled pork knuckle, pork belly, three different sausages, schnitzel, sides and even dessert.
Or you can just go with their limited-edition Oktoberfest schnitzel ($26) which comes with sauteed potatoes, Wurstsalat (sausage salad), pickled onions, mustard dressing and fries.
Hurry in though as your chance to try all seven beers ends October 31. Prost!
- Charlestown, Rouse Hill, Castle Hill, Shellharbour, Tuggerah, Penrith, Manly Wharf and Miranda; thebavarians.com
GERMAN BUTCHERY, DELI AND CAFE
With travel curtailed and restaurants constrained by seated dining, you'd think full-on Oktoberfest festivities would be off the books for the time being but Madeleine Herz, owner of German Butchery, Deli & Cafe is here to remind you that a DIY fest can be just as much fun.
While the requisite tuba-led Oompa bands and lederhosen-slapping folk dances may not be conducive to good neighbourly relations, you'll definitely win them over once the mouth-watering smell of grilled German sausages reaches the window.
"This year is the perfect year to create your own Oktoberfest party," says Madeleine.
"We provide freshly baked Brezel with award-winning Weisswurst (white sausage) produced in our factory, German Butchery in Mona Vale."
Head butcher and the factory owner, Toni Dees has many other award-winning (gold, silver and bronze accolades from the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show) traditional options.
Since you'll have a full kitchen to work out of, take the opportunity to try a variety of German sausages, each one unique in its own way.
There is the ever-popular Bratwurst; made with minced beef and pork, it's best grilled and served with a roll and sweet mustard, or, as a Currywurst - tomato-sauce mixed with curry powder (try it before you form an opinion as it's really yummy).
The Nürnbergerwurst is essentially a Bratwurst but smaller and served three at a time on a bun, or six with a. side of sauerkraut while the Weisswurst, because of perishability, is boiled and eaten for breakfast.
Of course, you'll need sides for all that so pick-up some of Madeleine's homemade potato salad and plenty of other fixings.
"Our team is very good at recommending products," she says.
After that, find some fun blue and white decorations (the colours of the Bavarian flag), try your hand at a paper-made Bavarian hat, decorate gingerbread hearts, and as for music, well that's your call as to how far you want to go.
To Madeleine though, over the 13 years she's owned the shop, "one of my favourite things is seeing German culture merged with the Australian lifestyle."
- 1/2-6 Sarsfield Cct, Bexley North; german-butchery.com.au
Hearty laugh and handlebar-moustached brothers Rudi and Mx Dietz are your hosts at this authentic German restaurant, a North Sydney institution for over 50 years, so you can bet they've got you sorted for all things Oktoberfest, particularly with such favourites as roasted pork knuckle and the Shared Schlacht Platter - a hearty plate of meats with sauerkraut.
Though they've long been known for massive wine-cellar that boast more than 4000 different wines, this is one month when beer reigns supreme. Prost.
- 45 Alexander St, Crows Nest; stuyvesantshouse.com
BEER DE LUXE KING ST WHARF
It's right there in the name so best believe that this King St Wharf restaurant with its expansive outdoor seating is your place for Oktoberfest brews.
Throughout the year there is a regular rotation of 20 beers on tap but through October, it'll be German brands and local lagers from such crafter brewers as St Peter's willie the Boatman.
To go with the 1L steins, there'll also be a German-inspired menu that of course includes the beer-hall favourite, Bratwurst with sauerkraut.
- 9 Line St, King St Wharf, Sydney; beerdeluxe.com.au
MAGGIE'S AUSTRIAN GERMAN RESTAURANT POTTS POINT
A visit to this German/Austrian restaurant is a veritable jaunt back to 1950s suburbia when mint green benchtops dominated the kitchen and families gathered around the speckled Formica tables for home-cooked prepared without the unnecessary fuss that the average person is encouraged to emulate at home.
Much the same could be said for this Kings Cross fave with a kitsch interior and menu that features unadulterated German / Austrian fare including tender schnitzels so big they spill over the plate, slow-cooked beef shin and paprika Goulash as well a few pastas and salads.
For a smallish place, there's a rather big wine list but the European beers in bottle and on tap are the standout.
- 7/50 MacLeay St, Potts Point, maggiespottspoint.com.au
CICCO TRATTORIA & PIZZERIA
A local favourite since 2014, Cafe Vité, has been go-to for breakfast and lunch, not to mention incredible coffee thanks to their house-roasted beans, but times change and with owner Tony Pacitto, handing the reins over to his son Alex, it's been reinvented as Cicco Zetland, a trattoria and pizzeria.
That's not to say that the daytime offerings will disappear, mainly as Alex is also the man behind the coffee making machines, just that the evenings will now feature house-made pasta and pizzas, all of which is prepared with locally sourced ingredients.
There's a nice wine and beer list, but considering that their coffee is a big drawcard, no dinner would be complete without a delicious espresso martini.
- 781-785 Elizabeth St, Zetland; ciccozetland.com.au
Originally published as 'Better than Bunnings': German sausages on the grill