Best Bavarian Tradition, just down the road...
This article is about discovering Germanic cuisine in restaurants here in Auckland. The challenge with a country being so distant from other is that real culinary experiences require a long time in an aircraft seat to get the authentic taste from practitioners at its origin, unless someone has imported the quality of that cuisine to New Zealand and recreated it here.
Kaiserschmarrn is a light caramelized and shredded buttery pancake, usually dotted with raisins and has its name from the Austrian emperor. It is popular dessert or sweet in Southern Germany and Austria. Germknödel is another sweet culinary specialty of Austria and Bavaria. It is a fluffy yeast dough dumpling filled with spicy plum jam, served with melted butter and a dusting of sugary poppy seeds.
We'd had the pleasure of eating them both in our time in Germany and Austria, at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, and on the slopes skiing in Austria. For a snack or dinner, we've had gulaschsuppe (goulash soup), and luscious, huge pork knuckle, or schweinshaxn, with Sauerkraut and spatzle. Those were the carefree days...(see: Stroke).
We'd by chance seen a listing advertising Oktoberfest celebrations, at two German/Austrian restaurants in Auckland. Both were at seaside suburbs, which one should we go to? Decided to give Restaurant Carinthia a go, serving authentic Austrian dishes
Dressed up with a modest number of flags and buntings, the restaurant is reminiscent of an Austrian hunter's inn. Inside, there are long trestle tables as well as more formal seating around tables. Carinthia offered a Oktoberfest menu, which is a condensed version of the normal menu. We chose the obvious: schweineshax'n (pork hock), a sizeable block of tender pork on the bone and roasted to perfection; and Austrian meatloaf – very moreish, and the potato salad was totally satisfying.
Carinthia is also a Konditerei - the German word for Patisserie. Austria, especially Vienna, is famous for its cakes and pastries. All the products are made fresh on site using the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients. They also have authentic Viennese desserts served warm on Saturdays and Sundays with their brunch menu. Names like Griesschmarren, caramelized semolina and prune omelette served with sour cherry or plum compote; Mohr im Hemd, dark chocolate and hazelnut pudding; Mozart Knoedel, organic Quark (fromage blanc) dumpling filled with pistachio marzipan, nougat; Powidltascherl, light potato pastry pockets filled with Powidl plum jam, served with blueberries, boysenberries; and more. A patisserie specialist? – two divine-looking desserts and coffee, yes, we'll be back again.
The next establishment is Der Metz on the following Sunday. Der Metz is just off Kohimarama beach, away from the crowded/no parking central Auckland. Seeing the restaurant across the street at once made us want to try it, it has that inviting ambiance. The Hofbrauhaus-like setup struck us immediately; insanely decorated with beer paraphernalia of all descriptions, straight out of Munich. Every given space was given to German posters of yesteryear, beer Steins, beer plaques and more. The tables and chairs were reminiscent of Tirolean folk art.
The menu at Der Metz is extensive with one whole page dedicated entirely to their famed schnitzels. We ordered and watched what other people were having. It was beginning to dawn on us, that possibly we had ordered too much food. One couple ordered the schnitzel each. Oh my, the portions were huge. It came beautifully crumbed and two huge pieces, overflowing the plate, per person. They couldn't finish the meal, but chose to take it away. A group of ladies across the way also had ordered schnitzels and a variety of other mains. When the meals came, they were genuinely stunned – deliciously so.