Saturday, 26 June 2010

Eating the World Cup - England v Germany 27 June

Where (in South Africa): England v Germany, Bloemfontein, Sun June 27. This article is part of my Eating the World Cup series, to start at the beginning, have a look here

Where (in London): Only one option really,we went to Zeitgeist in Vauxhall. 
With who: Teacher Boy and a horde of football fans (some of who I actually knew) though I've been there before with a more sedate crowd
How much: Mains from £7 to £9 each
We've got an awful lot in common with the Germans. An obsession with beer, a football team less than the sum of its parts, cliched tabloid antipathy towards the French and a near religious relationship with pork. 
It's fitting therefore that they have elevated the humble sausage to the status of national dish. It doesn't have much competition to be fair, and served properly it can be a thing of beauty. In towns and cities across Germany you're never far from an Imbiss kiosk, a semi permanent food stall selling hungry folk a range sandwiches, chips, drinks (including beer, always a shocker to the Brit) and the omnipresent wurst. Grilled or boiled (Frankfurters mainly), damn tasty either way, they'll have a couple of alternatives with the drinkers favourite, the Bockwurst (cut with chives and parsley), found on most grills. You'll also spy the pale casing of the solid pork tubes of bratwurst and the juicy creaminess of the weisswurst (particularly in Munich) on many menus. My particular favourite however was always the currywurst - a concoction so iconic that the Berliners have opened a museum to it.

Kurz and Lang is a fair to middling takeaway counter in Farringdon. Styling somewhere between the traditional German sausage booth and a British butchers, it serves sausage in several styles and to go with them, the salty, golden potato cubes known as Bratkartoffeln. It's difficult to get such a simple joy wrong, and they thankfully don't. A recent visit served up a perfect currywurst, steamed, sliced and served under a thick blanket of 'curry' sauce, in reality a heavy mix of tomato ketchup and curry powder.

I've been to Zeitgeist before with the Vole. It seems slightly incongruous, a chocolate dark inside hidden away down Black Prince Road in Vauxhall within a barely rebranded frontage bearing the Jolly Gardener brand. We walked past it twice before realising where it was. Described as London's first German gastropub (a fairly safe claim) they offer 40 odd different beers. Some excellent choices, if a little pricy. DAB, a light and crisp easy drinker from Dortmund is a semi regular treat when bought from Oddbins, here it's over £4 a pint. They offer a range of wurst (including the ubiquitous currywurst) alongside a selection of schnitzels, a more Austrian treat, but one known across both countries. On previous visits I've sampled these, and can particularly recommend the Schnitzel Kolsche Art, the traditional pan fried pork escalope coated in breadcrumbs, served in this instance with a black pudding and apple sauce mix. It isn't gourmet, but does as its makers intended and serves up a hearty filler to put a cap on the foamy lager you've just sculled.
Kurz & Lang on UrbanspoonZeitgeist on Urbanspoon

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