If there is one brand that has popularised German food in Singapore, it must be Brotzeit. Despite having only five outlets in Singapore, one gets the feeling it is like the Crystal Jade equivalent of German food with its consistent good quality, modern setting and a recognisable logo!
Fish and Mussels Saffron Stew
Here is a little surprise, Brotzeit was started in Singapore, and some who tasted German food in Germany attest to the fact that Brotzeit is the real deal and in some cases, better than the real deal. Here is another surprise. German gastronomic offers much more than bratwursts and beer and Brotzeit has put together a summer menu to give you all the flavours. From the gardens to the ocean.
Spinach Mint Dip
Here is how some of the new summer items fared with our taste buds. The Spinach Mint Dip was a rather nondescript starter that went easy on the taste buds but grew on you with the pureness of its flavour and the crunchy-freshness of its accompanying chopped greens which included carrots, capsicums, cucumbers and red radish. Do you see a rainbow?
Many of us will associate Germany with verdant forests but may forget that country boasts some beautiful lakes, rivers and the North Sea. Alongside with them, come some of the freshest seafood which will take centre stage in this special summer menu. For someone who is lukewarm about mussels, its White Wine Infused Mussels got me invigorated and extremely inquisitive. The mussels served were plumper and softer than the average ones in the market, and they were cooked in a broth that tasted so organic (with a hint of garlic) it was hard to attribute it to any particular seasoning. Alas, Chef Wolfgang Ranner revealed that it owed its taste to the natural ‘juice’ from the mussel when cooked. Under heat, the ‘juice’ blends in with white wine and borrows some rich tones from the garlic, shallots, carrots, celeriac and leek that went into the cooking.
Still, on the mussels note, the Fish and Mussels Saffron Stew (pictured below) was served immediately after the white wine mussels, as if the chef knew it was hard to bid farewell to it. Cooked in a delicious vegetable and potato sauce, infused with the distinctive flavours of saffron, it was a warm and comforting bridge to the main course. Not forgetting the garlic-butter soaked slice of ciabatta bread, which blended in perfectly with the milky stew.
At this point, one of our hosts, Christine from FoodCult, served a superlative that triggered a question to Chef Ranner. She said the mussels used were the ‘freshest’ mussels when I commented that they were exceptionally meaty and juicy. So I asked how do you know these mussels are the freshest without trying or tasting them?
‘We go to the source,’ she said, explaining how buying from reputable producers was the convenient key to getting good quality mussels. But I wanted to get to the bottom of this, being on the cusp of my love affair with mussels and convinced I did not yet hear the science behind it.
White Wine Infused Mussels
Finally, Chef Ranner explained that all background factors like location, geography, climate, etc. aside, one of the main factors that ensure their freshness is whether they are still alive or dead when they reach the kitchen. Many mussels are shipped ‘alive’ in bags filled with seawater. One can tell if a mussel is dead or alive by pressing on its shell. If it closes on its own like a mimosa leaf when given pressure, it is still living. This way, many chefs can ensure only the freshest one’s land in the cooking pot and on your plate!
This meal did not neglect the liquid staple of many German meals, beer. In between the dishes, I guzzled two different types of beers and one thirst-quenching fruit soda. My first drink was a sweet beer concoction called Caramel Brew. It was a mixture of dark Lager, and caramel syrup and the sweetness put a smile on my face for what a surprisingly good blend it was. I then moved on to half a pint of Franciskaner beer from the tap, which was the perfect companion to the heavier and meatier second half of the evening’s repertoire. However, I rather unwisely ordered a fruit soda dotted with grape slices in the concoction, while I was still ploughing through the meat extravaganza that was the Brotzeit Barbeque Platter.
Brotzeit Barbeque Platter
The Platter (picture of actual serving on the right), which serves 2 to 3, was the expected centrepiece of the dinner and it played its role well – kept me fed. Stacked on the wooden platter were hefty portions of grilled pork fillet, garlic pork sausages, bacon strips, chicken fillet, two minced beef and pork skewers, as well as chunks of grilled corn, red peppers and zucchini. In particular, the pork fillet caught my attention when it was so tender to the knife’s cut, and chewy when I sank my teeth into them.
The course that surprised was the Grouper Fish “Müllerin Art” with Almond Butter. At almost 1 kg, the grouper was a perfect dish for sharing as there was enough of its meat to go around. Pan-seared to create a mildly-crispy skin layer above the white, tender chunks of meat, it was the perfect balance to the heaviness of the meat from the barbeque platter. Giving the fish chunks an extra nutty tone was the golden melted almond butter. Loved the ‘still-crispy’ almond flakes that were swimming in the butter.
Grouper Fish “Müllerin Art” with Almond Butter
One item I didn’t get to try and was curious to be the DIY Salad, as displayed in the menu. As a salad base, you can choose either baby spinach or mesclun greens, tossed up with julienned carrots, sliced cucumber, sweet corn, juicy cherry tomatoes and slivers of capsicum. Included in every portion is one protein option (grilled or breaded chicken, seared tuna, smoked salmon or Black Forest ham), one choice of a superfood (avocado, blueberries, raspberries, mixed nuts or mandarin oranges), and of course one pick from Brotzeit’s range of salad dressings.
Brotzeit’s Summer Specials menu is available from Tuesday, 4 July to Sunday, 20 August. Available at all five Brotzeit outlets island wide, namely Vivocity, Raffles City, Katong, 313 Somerset, West gate.