The words of praise for sausage that appear in the following lines are also connected with the approaching Metzgete – autumn meat platter – season, for something strange is happening in that regard. This is that, with our late-summer seasons getting warmer and warmer, it is possible to eat a meat platter on sunny October afternoons in the open air. This does not feel right to me: in the past, walks in the early-autumn mist and warm jackets were the order of the day before you could feast yourself on black pudding and liver sausage in the company of red-cheeked farmers (and get a pair of red cheeks of your own). But now, the times they are a-changin’, and you will certainly find me occasionally on the terrace of Restaurant Alpenblick in Toggwil, sharing a plate of black pudding and liver sausage with rösti and apfelstückli (diced apple pieces) with my family.
It is organic and has a good texture – highly recommended!
A sausage is a fine thing at any time of year, after all. You can enjoy it at the Vorderer Sternen Grill am Bellevue, where truly good bratwurst is available, or at the small tables at Hafen Enge Beiz, which was recently taken over by Laurence Keller and her father Urs (creator of the legendary Wiedikerli). For his daughter’s laid-back venture, Keller has again created a new supersausage, which he has launched under the name of Zwingli. It is organic and has a good texture – highly recommended!
And why should you not cook yourself a sausage at home occasionally? To do this, I prefer to use the small Japanese Konro tabletop grill that I obtained from Margoni Grill. It is a highly recommended device for barbecue fanatics (please use only the best charcoal). I like it best for grilling veal bratwurst, one of the finest meat products that you can treat yourself to (in the interests of animal welfare, it should always be organic, from Coop or Migros). The best, plumpest, crispest St. Galler bratwurst can be found at Prétot on Kuttelgasse. A super-cool regional product for cooking at home is available at Mika’s, maker of the Stadtjäger, which produces fine, well-known dried sausage using pork from the Waidhof farm on the Seebach edge of Zurich. Eis-Zwickerli made from the same meat are kept frozen at Mika Lanz’s premises and can be ordered for delivery within two hours by Veloblitz.
You learn that you can use cuts of meat that are otherwise frowned upon.
Courses in sausage-making have been very popular for a few years. I completed one myself once and enjoyed it very much. However, it takes true dedication to make gourmet sausages. I am happy to leave this to the experts, because I do not like either cleaning the utensils or putting the bulky items away afterwards. There is one particularly good thing about a sausage course: you learn that sausages are far from easy to make and that you can use cuts of meat that are otherwise frowned upon. It is important that you should always add enough fat – which means Halsspeck from a pig that has been kept in species-appropriate conditions. Otherwise, the specimen will be dry and will cry out for sauce, but that is the very last thing we would want, because it would smother the sausage’s flavour.
And there you have a pasta sauce that is fun and does not cost a lot of time or money.
Patrick Marxer has done pioneering work in relation to gourmet sausage with his company ‘Das Pure’, and the trail that he blazed has been followed by Tanya Giovanoli, the daughter of a famous Engadin butcher whose recipes she reinterprets for today’s conditions – using the name ‘Meat Design’, which always makes me smile a little. But, in all honesty, when I am pushed for time, I also simply buy an organic pork bratwurst from a major distributor, cut it into small pieces known as rugeli and fry them in olive oil with two or three crushed cloves of garlic. Add white wine, reduce, then pour in half a bottle of passata and add ground pepper – and there you have a pasta sauce that is fun and does not cost a lot of time or money. Add some lettuce to provide something fresh. This has already rescued many an evening (although, admittedly, the meat here is a luxury and not absolutely essential – even animals that were kept organically would probably rather have lived longer). Incidentally, you definitely cannot just stuff into a sausage anything that can no longer be used in any other way – if the animal is kept badly or not slaughtered expertly, that will have consequences for the flavour, and those will not be positive.
Sausage-y restaurant recommendation: Kropf
There are lots of nice places in District 1. The most unusual and exciting of all is Bierhalle Kropf. A lunch in the Kropf’s spectacularly painted main room – the paintwork is described on the website by the beautifully alliterative name ‘bayrischer Bierhallenbarock’ (‘Bavarian beer-hall baroque’) – is like a time machine and transports you back to an age when you could still take your time over lunch and demolish a whole bottle of wine.
I like to meet up with my father at the Kropf for a meal of calf’s head, and their sausages are good, too. If you order a bratwurst with rösti and onion sauce (which goes with the rösti, not the sausage), you will have had a meal in convivial, distinctive surroundings for 35 francs (including drink and coffee). It is not exactly top-notch, but it is a perfect change from the stress of Zurich’s hip places that are always overrun towards the weekend by people who plan far in advance. We can seek them out together again next time – if I can actually get a table!