By PATRICK STUART [email protected]
I’ve often been told that I look German, Bavarian to be precise, not that I usually dress up in lederhosen or indeed am particularly fond of beer. But I do apparently have some distant German ancestors, not to mention being a rather large and fair-skinned person, so this probably explains why.
Suspicions on this front have been furthered by my patronage of the German butcher’s shop adjoining Vila Vita Parc’s Biergarten restaurant in Porches. But until this weekend I had never sampled those strange-looking German sausages that everyone else seems to buy in the shop and, being a Brit, I had no idea how to cook them or even how to eat them.
My reason for using the butcher’s shop was to buy the meat reared organically on Vila Vita’s farm in the Alentejo, most notably the superb T-bone steaks, but that’s another story.
Curiosity about German sausages got the better of me recently and I decided to further my culinary knowledge by asking some German friends (Swiss/German actually) to join my wife and I at the Biergarten and introduce us to the wonderful world of Würstchen (German sausages).
Our sausagefest was set for last Friday evening and I turned up undercover, dressed in lederhosen (well it was carnival weekend) and allowed our friends to order the food for my initiation.
We started out with what I am told is the most traditional Bavarian sausage of all, the Weisswurst. Made from finely ground pork meat and milk flavoured with herbs (chive and parsley), these sausages are boiled in water and eaten with freshly-baked pretzels and sweet mustard.
Just as we were about to cut into them, we were instructed by our friends that we first had to remove the skin, by simply peeling it away, then dip into the mustard and eat, followed by a bite of warm pretzel. It is quite simply delicious.
The Weisswurst was, in the old days so I was told, eaten mid morning as a snack to keep up the strength of manual labourers and, being made with fresh milk, tradition states that it should always be eaten before the bell-tower strikes noon.
Next we moved on to Leberkaese (literally meaning liver cheese), which although not shaped like a sausage, it in fact tasted quite similar to a British sausage.
It is made from a mix of pork and beef – nobody could explain to me why it is called “liver cheese”. It is actually a kind of meatloaf. We then tried a couple more varieties of grilled sausage like the grilled Thueringer served with a different kind of mustard. As far as I know, this is the only place in the Algarve where these fresh and authentically-made German delicacies can be sampled.
My favourite was, without a doubt, the Weisswurst with sweet mustard and warm pretzels. I would never have looked twice at these sausages in the butcher’s shop, what with their pale and rather unappealing appearance, but it seems that my long lost German gene had something of a homecoming this weekend.
“I’ll be back,” I said with an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent – and yes, I know he is Austrian.