Don't Mention the War

Saturday 23/10/2004

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Diary and Notes

Today's meal was a deliberate attempt to do something Über-German. I'm here in the land of sausage and pretzels, so I might as well have a go every now and then. It is important however, that as I shall be having bratwurst only once this year, that I treat them with love. As such I made sure the rösti was good and crispy and the saurkraut flavoursome. I wont be doing too much in the German style of cooking as I get plenty of that for lunch at the MPI canteen. I will however have a go at a few other national treasures later on in my stay.

A few comments on the bread and drink. Black bread is an East European thing and it's brilliant (with the right food). I would not recommend it as your everyday eating bread, where I favour French bread or a good crusty loaf from an English bakers. It does go well with hearty German/Polish/Russian... food and although you say 'yes Jon it's easy for you to get it over there in Germany.' it is available in Britain with a bit of shopping around and worth the effort.

Apple federweisser is not available in Britain or anywhere outside of this part of Germany and only for a few months of the year. Federweisser is like half fermented wine, the normal federweisser is fizzy (like asti) and sweet (like asti) but cloudy (unlike asti) and is bought from huge vats for a few cents at markets (unlike asti). I personally cannot abide the horrid stuff (just like asti). However I was given a glass of apple federweisser with my dinner and it was delicious. This is strange as I can't stand apple juice. Unfortunately this mildly alcoholic and very refreshing local drink is only available here and until about November when it will be past the season. Never mind, good food and drink should be both regional and seasonal and I shan't cry. Anyway,I can always go back to wine and beer, which after having drunk a whole glass of something healthy, is probably what I would have done anyway.


  • Bratwurst in saurkraut with wine and mustard,
  • Rösti,
  • Black bread,
  • Apple federweisser.


  • Bratwurst: Bratwurst, olive oil, butter, saurkraut, white wine, strong German mustard, black pepper.

  • Rösti: Potatoes, onions, salt, pepper, oil for frying.


  • Bratwurst: Buy some good Bratwürste (that's a plural by the way, what with the extra e and the umlaut) if you can't get proper German bratwurst some really good English pork sausages will do as they aren't a great deal different. The method of cooking will be a little more Alsace than Göttingen and although the Alsace is a part of France, I don't see that there should be any fuss or invasions because of this. Fry them gently (bratwurst means fried sausage) in the olive oil until good and brown. I think the slower you cook sausages the better. My friend Carrie suggested I prick them with a fork first, I nearly pricked her with a fork, right between the eyes. When they are good and brown add a glass of white wine and turn up the heat so as to reduce the volume of liquid. When reduced by about 1/2, stir in a good dollop of mustard and a knob of butter. Mix well. When the sauce is good and shiny, stir in the saurkraut and grate on some pepper. As soon as the kraut is warm you are ready to eat.

  • Rösti: There is a key to good potato cakes whether they be hash browns, rösti, latkes or even bubble & squeek - make sure your potatoes have already been cooked and are now cold and rubbery. The best method for rösti is to boil them whole (after peeling) cover with cling film and leave them overnight in the fridge. Or, just use left over boiled potatoes (which are one of those resources every good gourmand should have in his/her fridge). Grate your potato and onions and mix well (season). Form into small loosely packed patties and fry gently in a little oil until crispy and brown, simple and delicious.