If you’ve never heard of Nuremberg bratwurst, chances are you’ve never visited the city’s famous Christmas Market. It is difficult to imagine this traditional market without its traditional roasted sausage. Thanks to the market’s international reputation, it attracts a multitude of visitors every year who come and eat buns stuffed with freshly grilled sausage (ask for Drei im Weggla: three in a bun) with a glass of hot wine. The good news is that these little sausages aren’t only sold during Advent; they’re available all year ‘round. Where? In the very heart of the Nuremberg, on both sides of the Pegnitz River in the traditional restaurants that are specialised in bratwurst.
What’s so special about bratwurst?
Nürnberg Bratwurst is not just any old sausage, as the European PGI – Protected Geographical Indication – label indicates. For example, it must be between seven and nine centimetres long, contain a certain amount of marjoram, and be made in Nuremberg itself. The sausages, which are often prepared on-site in the restaurants, must be made according to ancient recipes, have a precise size and weight, and be traditionally roasted over a beechwood fire. That’s what gives bratwurst its original, incomparable flavour. Of course, the side dishes are also essential: potato salad, sauerkraut and horseradish on a pewter plate (a truly genuine detail). The size of the portions is also traditional: 6, 8, 10 or 12 sausages... how many can you devour?
If you thought that no one wants such hearty fare any more, think again. In today’s Germany, homespun, traditional dishes hold their own against Mediterranean fare, fusion cuisine and other food trends. Great attention is paid to their preparation, since customers are clearly in search of authentic cuisine. Nuremberg bratwurst fits the bill: its fabrication can be traced back to the 14th century.
Several restaurants keep the tradition going. Most noteworthy are the Historische Bratwursküche Zum Gulden Stern – supposedly the world’s oldest restaurant specialised in roasted sausage. The Bratwursthäusle’s charm is just as rustic, and its dining room is built around the requisite grill. One Bratwurst gourmand follows another all day long here at an astonishing pace. Das Bratwurstglöcklein, the third restaurant of the trio, is also traditional. All three have several things in common: their secular tradition, their authentic, convivial character, and the quality of their cuisine. In addition to the delicious roasted speciality of Nuremberg, all three also serve a non-roasted variant, Saure Zipfel im Weinsud (‘sour tips’ slowly cooked in a vinegar and white wine marinade). And all three are veritable institutions.
One thing is certain: a meal at a bratwurst restaurant is one of the things every visitor must experience in Nuremberg. And don’t be surprised if you see people eating there as early as 11 a.m.!
Historische Bratwursküche Zum Gulden Stern