Four years of high school German and all I got out of it was the ability to ask someone for directions to a bus stop* and a drinking song.
In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus (Eins, Zwei, g’suffa! )
Da läuft so manches Fäßchen aus (Eins, Zwei, g’suffa!)
Da hat schon mancher brave Mann (Eins, Zwei, g’suffa!)
Gezeigt, was er so vertragen kann (Eins, Zwei, g’suffa!)
(And, at a much later date, a very large appreciation for bier.)
And so it was, one lazy sunny Sunday some years later, that I found myself exercising said appreciation for bier at the aptly named Bavarian Bier Cafe in Chatswood.
Sure, it’s not actually Germany. But there is German bier. And German food!
(And boys clad in un-braced lederhosen that had the propensity to inch their way southwards from time to time. The lederhosen, not the boys. Not that I was looking. Ahem!)
I’ll blame the bier, perhaps, for my overly keen-eyed vision. The Hofbrau Munchen Oktoberfestbier, to be precise. At 6.3% alcohol, it packs a decent punch, but all is forgiven when the first sip of crisp, slightly bitter brew slides down your throat.
And whilst I bier-ed, we pondered the specials menu.
The Bavarian Bier Cafe has put together three Oktoberfest menus for its six-week celebrations and, as we rocked up on the very last day of the second menu none of the dishes pictured below are available for you to try. There is, however, a third menu with gems such as Schweinelende (Pork Loin with Sauteed Onion & Potato Gratin) that made me wish I’d postponed our meal by just one day, beautiful as the weather was.
We started with a deliciously salty pretzel.
“Mmmm” said my mother (who, as the resident bier lover in our family – strange I know – had been selected as my dining partner that day)
I slathered a round of butter on the ends and savoured the warm, slightly chewy crust and light-as-air innards.
“I want this piece” she said, swiping the last of the pretzel.
“That’s fine” said I “because I’m having the last prawn”.
The salad was crisp, spicy and tangy all in one. A smattering of lettuce leaves, spanish onion, lemon zest and deep fried fish that looked strangely like pork belly. Lighter than the food I normally associate with all things Bavarian, it was my favourite dish of the day.
The vegetable strudel (announced loudly as “Your apfel… I mean, vegetable strudel!”) bore a beautifully flaky crust and a bounty of broccoli and carrot in its centre. We swiped the salad through the tangy herb sauce and contemplated ordering another pretzel to finish it off with.
We were glad we didn’t when the mains came out. A schnitzel the size of two closed fists carrying a secret treasure of cheese and ham. I’ve always thought of cordon bleu as dainty and French. This one shattered all of my previous preconceptions.
One inch thick, perched in a creamy mushroom sauce and accompanied by a serious side of speck and taters. The lemon did little to cut through the intensity.
Our stomachs groaned, but there was more to come.
A roll of braised beef encircling carrots and celery, its diameter the size of my wrist, accompanied by a mound of slow cooked vegetables – Carrot! Zucchini! Beans!
The beef had seen better days and we left much of it on the plate, but the vegetables were devoured as the Franco-German schnitzel monster on the other side of the table threatened to stage an imminent stomach explosion.
Which is why I was so surprised that we managed to finish not one, but two desserts. The frozen tiramisu boasted whisper thin circles of coffee soaked sponge and two frozen cream cheese layers. A mouthful of hot berries cut through the creaminess, followed by the smooth bitter flavour of coffee.
“This is good” said mum.
“The moose agrees” said I.
“You’d best not order another beer” said she.
So a pot of tea was had instead.
And with it, a mound of fluffy chocolate cake, drowning in a beer and vanilla custard sea.
We scooped spoonfuls of the malty, satiny custard directly into our mouths, unveiling a surprise bounty of berries. A hearty attack on the cake saw it gone within minutes.
And with that, we waddled into the glowing afternoon. Eyes glazed, stomachs distended and singing (in our heads at least) songs about brave men at bierhauses in Munich.
(* For the curious: Entschuldigen Sie, wie komme ich am besten zum bahnhof bitte?)
Shez & her mother ate far too much (and possibly drank far too little) at the invitation of the Bavarian Bier Cafe and Zing PR