Friday, 22 May 2009

Bring on the Wurst and the Weißbier

The countdown is almost over. Tomorrow, I'm off to the land of Bratwurst and schnapps.

On our previous visit, it was too early in the year – and far too cold – to sit out. So I'm particularly looking forward to is being able to lounge outside one of the cafés on Unter den Linden, with the Brandenburg Gate in view, sipping Weißbier.

The Berlin version of this is a low-alcohol (2.8%) wheat beer that can taste quite sour, so is often served 'mit Schuss Himbeere' or 'mit Schuss Waldmeister'. These are raspberry or woodruff (a herb) syrups, which turn the beer either red or green. Indeed, you can also order by colour – 'ein Berliner Weißbier, mit grun, bitte' or 'ein Berliner Weißbier, mit rot, bitte'.

It's around seven years since I was last in Berlin, and hard barely really started my journey to foodiedom. So there are plenty of culinary treats in store.

Delightfully, the spargel season is underway – it traditionally runs from mid-May until St John's Day, 24 June. Spargel is white asparagus, which is considered a national delicacy on the Continent, but isn't seen very often in the UK.

I'm hoping to try a famous form of German noodle called Spätzle – a German friend claims that, if a woman can make these well, she'll never lack for a husband.

There will be no shortage of wurst – sausages. But German wurst are made from good meat, not just off-cuts. So tomorrow night could well be bratwurst with salt potatoes, sauerkraut, pickles and sour cream, and good mustard. It might not sound particularly special, but done with good ingredients, it's excellent.

There should be some herring, but Germany's limited coast means that there's more freshwater fish in the national diet, including trout, carp and pike, plus some European perch. Now I already know that I enjoy trout, but have never tried any of the others. Yet.

Germany apparently has more types of bread than any other country in the world, with approximately 6,000 types of bread, plus another 1,200 types of rolls and pastries. And since I've never tried proper pretzels, that's on the list too.

There are, of course, loads of things that I'm looking forward to doing – including attending a concert by the Berliner Philharmoniker, which will include the world premiere of a new work for the orchestra's wind soloists by Siegfried Matthus, plus highlights of Wagner's Götterdämmerung for a burst of fabulously OTT German romanticism.

I may go to the zoo and see Knut, the world famous polar bear. And I want to head out to Potsdam and Sanssouci, the palace (and now the resting place) of Prussian king Frederick the Great. Then there'll have to be a shopping trip to KaDeWe – the largest department store in Europe, which is possibly under threat of being sold and partitioned off as a result of the recession. The food hall at KaDeWe is amazing – foodie heaven.

But I'm most certainly looking forward to enjoying a cuisine that is often overlooked when people discuss European food.


  1. Have a wonderful trip, Syb! I look forward to hearing all about it. ;o)

  2. Many thanks, Revised. I'm sure I'll come back with loads of material to write about!