Gourmet Backpacking Part 4: Germany and Austria

Left: one of the many cakes we sampled in Austria Right: Courtney outside Sauvage in Berlin.

Left: one of the many cakes we sampled in Austria Right: Courtney outside Sauvage in Berlin.

Part 4: Germany and Austria

My love for Germany began the moment we stepped off the train in Munich and inhaled the smoky scent of sausages. Sure enough, a handful of stands boasting a variety of meats occupied the station. Unable to resist, we ordered currywurst, an Indian spiced sausage served in a sweet and tangy curry sauce and sprinkled with curry powder. The combination of flavours was unusual, yet addictive.

It was early evening when we strolled down to Munich’s bustling pedestrian area. Food stands lined the walkway and aromas of roasted chestnuts and candied walnuts wafted through the air. We stopped and bought a bag of warm, sugary nuts and munched while perusing shops selling lederhosen and dirndl, traditional Bavarian garb.

Looking to have a authentic Bavarian beer hall experience, we set out to Weisses Bräuhaus for a hearty dinner and a glass of brew. The hall must have been the size of two gymnasiums and was so packed with locals that we almost didn’t get a seat.

Our server explained that the hall has regulars that come on the same day at the same time each week and even keep their own beer stein locked up in the restaurant! After taking one sip of Schneider Weiss Blonde, I completely understood why. Das beer war gut. It was the perfect accompaniment to our fatty roast pork, tangy sauerkraut and crispy potato pancakes. Needless to say, we went back to our hostel incredibly satiated that night.

After reaching our fill of traditional Bavarian beer and cuisine, we headed to Berlin. To celebrate our first night in the city we splurged on a lovely dinner at Sauvage, the world’s first and only Paleolithic restaurant. With textured, earthy beige walls, simple wooden furniture, dim candlelight and mounted antlers, the 40-seat restaurant had a warm, elemental ambiance. The menu explained the principles of the Paleo Diet and a chalkboard on the wall displayed the “kitchen rules”, of which there were five: No grains, no vegetable oils, no refined sugar, 100% homemade and wild or grassfed meats.

Courtney Beaming with a mini Sachertorte from Cafe Demel

Courtney Beaming with a mini Sachertorte from Cafe Demel

Interested in having the complete Paleo experience we ordered the “hunter gatherer plate” (€14.50) to start. Served on a slab of slate, the starter was stacked high with impossibly delicious grain-free breads and crackers, mini meatball skewers and six flavourful dips and spreads including a mouth-watering banana and red chili chutney.

We both opted for the same main – wild boar ragu with pumpkin dumplings drizzled in a bright pesto and topped with lively herb salad (€16). The dish was divine. Laced with nutmeg and cloves, the boar was beautifully braised. The pumpkin dumplings, which we were told were made with yucca flour, were incredibly light and airy, making for a perfect sponge to absorb the warmly spiced sauce.

Despite our bulging bellies, we ordered a slice of redfruit custard tart for dessert (€6). It was a perfect, not-too-sweet ending to an amazing meal. Almond and coconut flours replaced wheat flour in the crust and coconut sugar stood in for refined, white sugar.

Our meal at Sauvage was as educational as it was tasty, as I learned a lot about alternatives to ingredients that we as cooks so heavily rely on. The restaurant’s commitment to high quality ingredients made me think of BC and the numerous restaurants that honour local, organic, wholesome ingredients as well. Finding this little gem was like finding a piece of home away from home and I couldn’t help but think this restaurant would thrive in cities like Vancouver and Victoria.

The remainder of out stay in Berlin was emotionally intense. In a city peppered heavily with monuments, museums and reminders of the atrocities of Nazi Germany, I found it hard to find my appetite. After spending a particularly moving day at Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp thirty minutes from Berlin, my desire to indulge disappeared. At the same time, I was reminded never to take the little things in life, like food, water and shelter, for granted.

From Berlin we were off to Austria to experience cafe culture at its finest. In pastry school I had learned about the sacred sanctuary that was the Viennese coffee house, and during our brief stay in Vienna we succeeded in reaching our quota in cakes and coffee.

We visited Cafe Demel, a charming little coffeehouse that claims to have been the birthplace of the famous Sachertorte in the late 1830’s. To this day the origin of this cake remains a point of contention between Demel and the Hotel Sacher. After one bite of its tender chocolate sponge, fruity apricot jam and über-sweet chocolate glaze, I didn’t care if this was the original or not—it was perfect. Paired with an Eispanner, a smooth shot of espresso topped with a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream, I had found my sanctuary, and for €7 it was worth it.



Weisses Brauhaus. Tal 7, 80331, Munich, Germany. http://www.weisses-brauhaus.de/

Sauvage. Pflugerstrasse 25, Berlin, Germany.  http://www.sauvageberlin.com/

Cafe Demel. Kohlmarkt 14, Vienna, Austria. http://www.demel.at/index_flash.htm


— Courtney Schwegel

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