Wurst-case scenario

Several weeks ago, I asked the editor of this section if I could write the occasional column on locally made sausage. The day before I made my request, I had passed a sign outside a produce stand in north Asheville that read “FRESH SAUSAGE,” and nearly caused a multiple-car pileup trying to drive off the road and closer.

Photos By Amy Rowling

Now, I realize I take a risk by admitting this, but no matter: I like sausage. I really like sausage. And not just any sausage, mind you: I prefer the sight of glistening links piled behind a butcher’s case to their frozen counterpart, the kind of sausage sold on a Styrofoam tray.

Which is exactly what led me, a few weeks ago, to Bavarian Restaurant in Woodfin and the company of its owner, Dieter Homburg. Since opening Bavarian last year, Homburg has brought all the attention to detail, craft and freshness to sausage that his former countrymen in Germany might expect.

Each week, he fires up a smoker and flips the switch on the sausage stuffer. He minces choice, lean cuts of pork and turkey, blends them with spices, salt and a bottle or two of beer. He slips a gossamer length of pork casing onto his stuffer and guides the ingredients into it, twisting the casing as he goes along to create individual links. From the stuffer, some of the sausages go directly to the fridge for later frying; others go directly to a smoker that sits in a courtyard behind the restaurant. All told, he makes about 150 pounds a week.

For all the hard work, Homburg’s customers are rewarded with the taste of Germany. (Should you doubt it, at least one sausage per plate is served with a tiny German flag piercing its skin. The flag says “A Taste of Germany” right on it.)

Homburg is proud of his ingredients, but he becomes a little more circumspect if you press him for specifics. “For the garlic sausage, we use garlic,” he said. “For the cheese, we use cheddar cheese. For the curry sausage, we use curry.” A dash or more of cayenne goes into the hot sausage (which, be warned, is hot). And about those spices? “I can’t tell you,” he said, his crinkly blue eyes narrowing and hardening somewhat.

One ingredient that Homburg is uncompromising on is his salt. He is a believer in the power of Himalayan salt, a pinkish material said to contain all the materials needed for life (or something along those lines). “Years ago, we were saying, ‘Accent wakes up flavor,’” said Homburg. “Well, we know now that MSG is bad for us. But this salt is a natural flavor enhancer.” Mined from mountainous regions of Pakistan, the salt is reputed to have remained untouched for 250 million years.

But a good sausage is considerably more than the sum of its parts. It is also the reflection of careful handling. By Homburg’s measure, the way one cooks a sausage is nearly as important as its ingredients. For those who are inclined to souse their brats in beer or boil the dickens out of them, he suggests this: Instead, roll them lightly in flour and fry them over a medium-high flame until their skins char slightly and pop. The flour raises a delicate crust on the sausage and the high flame yields a tender casing. “That’s all you do,” he said.

And never, ever, poke holes in a good sausage. “The sausages you buy in the store have a lot of fat in them,” said Homburg. “Ours don’t, so if you start poking holes in them, you lose everything.”

Homburg is exactly the kind of guy you’d want making your sausage. For one, his kitchen is immaculate. His German accent doesn’t hurt, either, and neither does his convincing array of facial hair, which would look equally at home on a marine mammal.

Herr Homburg also has a mild and welcoming manner that seems to transport his restaurant from the side of busy Weaverville Highway to high on an Alpine slope, something that, by itself, even the best sausage has a hard time doing.

“First,” Homburg said, as my sausage plate was being prepared, “you should have a beer.” He flicked the tap-lever on his bar and poured a monumental glass of weissbier—German wheat beer—with a dense, rocky head. “Now that,” he said, “is how you serve a beer.”

The plate arrived a few minutes later, with three mighty links surrounded by herbed potatoes, warm sauerkraut and a spiced apple ring.

Both the cheese and the garlic sausage were superior, but the “traditional” brat was hands-down delicious, and so delicately seasoned that no one flavor came to the fore. There was one more sausage to try, the dry, smoked one called “landjäger,” which literally translates as “country hunter,” alluding to its rustic origins. Homburg hoisted a few of the dense links from a hanger and sliced them apart. Their texture was dense and buttery, the taste, a concentrated zing of smoke and spice.

“Put a link or two in your glove compartment,” he said. “They’ll keep a long time.”

I did, and they’re still there in case of emergency—though I might not wait that long.


Bavarian Restaurant is located at 332 Weaverville Highway in Woodfin, 1 mile north of exit 23 off I-26. The restaurant’s phone number is 645-8383. Sausage is also available for take-away.

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30 thoughts on “Wurst-case scenario

  1. Sounds delicious. I, too, have a soft spot for sausage. Is Bavarian open for lunch or just dinner?

    Also, I am interested in what was touching the Pakistani salt 250 million years ago.

  2. Kent Priestley

    Here are Bavarian’s hours, pasted over from the restaurant’s website, http://www.bavariandining.com (something I should have included in the story).

    Lunch Sat and Sun 11am till 4pm – $12.99
    Dinner All Day – $19.99 – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – 5 pm until 9 pm
    Saturday and Sunday – 11 am until 9 pm
    Closed on Mondays… Ruhetag

    As for the Pakistani salt, I’m guessing trilobites and perhaps something resembling today’s horseshoe crabs, though I’m no geology expert.

  3. here is what i think !!!!!!

    Take your Brat to work today.”

    Bratmeisters at the Bavarian Restaurant
    [ Doc ] dieter Homburg

    German soul food

    Bratwash………………….1 Cooler
    3 Bags Ice (cubes)
    1 Case Beer
    Remove cans from recyclable cardboard holder. Place cans in cooler, intermingling with ice cubes. Chill 45 minutes and serve.
    How to Eat Brats
    What, protocol involving a food as intrinsically casual as bratwurst? Well, we’re certainly not going to advocate getting stuffy about it, but certain activities seem to go hand-in-hand with eating brats..
    First off, Bratwurst are usually eaten outdoors. It’s not at all unusual to eat them standing up, or even while strolling. Brats are social food. You surround yourself with people you like, pop some beers, grill some brats, and mill around conversing with your friends as you eat. That’s the protocol. No knife and fork, nor cloth napkins, are needed – in fact such finery would be considered rather weird. For your potato salad and other sides you’ll need a paper plate and plastic fork. Some folks use napkins; others use their shirt sleeves.
    Brats are rarely consumed with white wine or similarly pretentious beverage. Brats are nearly always washed down with beer a/k/a “bratwash”. Eating brats is meant to be a relaxed, social activity – part of the celebration of an all-too-short summer in
    Tailgating gets its name because it began with a spread of food laid out on the tailgate of a station wagon. Now, the food is likely to be laid out on a folding table set up in the parking lot. Then and now, the main course mainstay for tailgating is bratwurst.

    How To Cook Bratwurst
    As with all cooking, the key is to use quality ingredients and proper technique. Buy good Brats at the Bavarian Restaurant Care about what you’re doing. Pay attention to the details.
    One important point – don’t ever boil bratwurst! You may see recipes that call for parboiling or boiling. What they mean to (or ought to) say is simmered in beer or water, usually with chopped onion added [ Bavarian Brathaus Brand has all this done for you when you buy them ] Simmering means bringing the liquid to the temperature at which steam rises from the surface, but not so hot that it bubbles. Boiling will cause the casings to burst.
    Also, you may see or hear the term “brat fry”. The term is technically a misnomer. Bratwurst can be pan fried, and you may see recipes that call for it. Nevertheless, at the “brat fry”, the bratwurst are cooked on a grate over charcoal, usually on a kettle grill.If you want to panfry them you can put a dusting of flour on them to make them nice and crispy and don’t ever poke wholes in them
    Authentic Bratwurst is a fresh sausage which must be cooked thoroughly before eating.
    Bavarian Restaurant Brand [ BRB ] is cooked for you to 90% just heat and brown them on a hot grill..Order your Bratwurst right here in Woodfin / Asheville from the Bavarian Restaurant they are all hand made in house GUTEN APPETIT
    And tell them the little kraut send you

  4. We only cook with himalayan salt and here is why !!!!!
    At the “ B a v a r i a n R e s t a u r a n t “
    …You are worth you’re weight in Salt and
    You will taste the difference in all of our food

    The Salt we use is over 250 Million Years Old. Fit for a king and you
    The only thing that is not German in this Restaurant

    This is by far the purest salt available on earth and is absolutely uncontaminated with any toxins or pollutants.
    This salt from the Himalayas is known as “white gold.” Himalayan Crystal Salt offers all the natural elements exactly identical to the elements in your body — the very same elements originally found existing in the “primal sea.”
    Containing all of the 84 elements found in your body, the benefits of natural Himalayan Crystal Salt include:
    1. Regulating the water content throughout your body.
    2. Promoting a healthy pH balance in your cells, particularly your brain cells.
    3. Promoting blood sugar health and helping to reduce the signs of aging.
    4. Assisting in the generation of hydroelectric energy in cells in your body.
    5. Absorption of food particles through your intestinal tract.
    6. Supporting respiratory health.
    7. Promoting sinus health.
    8. Prevention of muscle cramps.
    9. Promoting bone strength.
    10. Regulating your sleep — it naturally promotes sleep.
    11. Supporting your libido.
    12. Promoting vascular health.
    13. In conjunction with water it is actually essential for the regulation of your blood pressure.
    14. The Typical Table And Cooking Salt In Your Grocery Store Has Been “Chemically Cleaned”
    What remains after typical salt is “chemically cleaned” is sodium chloride — an unnatural chemical form of salt that your body recognizes as something completely foreign.
    Guten Appetit zum Wohl und Prost
    Eigentümer
    Dieter Homburg Or just “ DOC “
    tell us the little KRAUT send you

  5. Stewart David

    Sorry, Jason. :-) I just think that people should make informed decisions.

  6. Try some good German sausage with hot mustard and perhaps a cold beer, Stewart, and your vegetarian days will be a thing of the past and you’ll say “thank you” with every succulent bite.

  7. theAntiPeta

    Wait a minute. Sausages come from animals?!?

    MR. Stewart, are you aware of how many animals are killed in the entire soy-making process, for example? Ever seen a mono-culture field of soy growing in the American Midwest (or in Asia)? LOTS and LOTS of animals (like mice, birds, etc) are killed during the harvesting of any Mono-culture grain or bean. Cute little baby mice with faces and er’thing.
    Or the amount of animals killed or displaced (big trucks driving on freeways is very deadly to cute, innocent animals such as deer, possums, crows, coyotes, etc etc etc) in order to ship said soy-product back and forth across the continent before it shows up at your local store? (not to mention the animals displaced to grow such a large, unnatural crop).
    I would postulate that local animal products are far more sustainable than any mono-culture grain or bean that is so heavily petroleum-dependent. I understand that the average PETA-phile is more comfortable speaking in large, generalized terms when dictating to the general public what they should eat, but, once again, I feel it is necessary to point out the fallacy of such a thought-process.
    For those of us not interested in having our diet dictated to us by bean-counters (literally), here is another website containing information that disproves many of the PETA half-truths.

    http://www.westonaprice.org/

    And for those that don’t want any politics in their food; Well, Eat up! I love some locally-produced Kraut on my Brats!!

  8. xvelouria

    The Weston A. Price Foundation is almost as bad as ActivistCash.com (which is a front to the Center for Consumer Freedom, and I’m not even going to go there…) when it comes to spreading misinformation. What next, are you going to start quoting beyondveg.com?

    Ugh. How about if you read your sources just a little more critically?

  9. Stewart and Xvelouria, you two are just big old grumpy bears (and even bears eat grubs and honey)… this thread was totally inappropriate for your injected veggie evangelism. Why rain on sausage lovers’ parade? Very impolite. And, I might add, very off topic. The topic is ‘how good Dieter’s sausages are.’ Your twisted and way-out-of-the-majority beliefs were not solicited.

    Sausage is good.

    Grumpy bears should be hibernating this time of year, dreaming of grubs and honey to come in the Spring.

  10. Stewart David

    Ralph,

    You are correct, we did get off topic. The topic was how sausage is made, and I mentioned that the article failed to discuss a part of the process. So I posted a video showing how the animals are tortured and murdered before they are ground up to make sausage. Take a look at http://www.meat.org.

    I never mentioned soybeans, yet that somehow prompted a ridiculous rant about them. Ridiculous not only because vegans don’t necessarily eat soy, but also because it was a complete fabrication. So many scientists have shown how eating meat destroys the environment; it’s really funny when someone makes such silly, unscientific statements to justify their craving for flesh.

    That was followed by some off-topic pseudoscience that encourages people to eat meat, which any properly trained medical professional will tell you is conclusively linked to heart disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, impotence, etc.

    You got off topic, too, with your silly comment about soybeans. So, let’s get back on topic. Otto von Bismark said, “Laws are like sausage, it’s better not to see them being made.” But, if you want to take a look, and you won’t go to a PETA site because of your closed mind, check out the photo and video galleries at http://www.factoryfarming.org.

  11. Stewart… you are still being a grumpy old bear … the topic is about the ENJOYMENT of sausage, why do you want to essentially pooh-pooh in the woods? I know that’s what bears do but it is hardly civil.

    This topic is about good sausage, it is not about bear pooh pooh, you silly old pooh bear.

    Thank you.

  12. Stewart David

    Ralph,

    The story talks about what goes into sausage, so my comments are relevant. The article also mentions the “hard work” involved in making sausage. You should read about the hard work (abuse) of the people working in the slaughterhouses. See
    http://www.goveg.com/workerRights_dangerous.asp

    I know that you have Empathy Deficit Disorder (EDD) when it comes to animals. I’m hoping you might have some compassion for people.

    Me, grumpy? Hardly. But I do speak up for those whose rights are violated, human or non-human. As did Dr. King. I suppose you’d also call him grumpy?

  13. Pooh, you are off topic… we LIKES sausage!

    Why are you so fixated on this? Live your life as you like, just do NOT try to get between us and our knockwurst und bratwurst und frankfurters!

    Sie tragen große Alte Bär … Bitte halten Sie Ihre Vegetarische Hände von unseren leckeren Wurst

    … please.

    we LIKES sausage!

  14. Stewart David

    I’d fight for your rights if someone was trying to kill you to satisfy their taste buds.

    As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

    He also said “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

    Okay, now I agree I am off topic, and I’m done.

  15. Stewart, you REALLY have a problem … this is just a restaurant review, not a pulpit to evangelize the vegan way. I saw elsewhere that Steve asked you to stay on topic. If you have nothing positive to contribute on Dieter’s most excellent and satisfying wurst, then please to remain silent.

    My advice is to stop obsessing on food and take up knitting as a hobby… oh… are you against wool, too? Never mind, I do not want to know. Sausages are what we’re talking about here. POSITIVE comments on sausage.

    Thank you.

  16. xvelouria

    Ralph,

    This is a review of a restaurant that serves sausage, the remains of slaughtered animals. In case you weren’t aware, some people are morally offended by the slaughter of animals. I don’t see how bringing that up is “off topic”; Steve asked Stewart to stay on topic in another thread about the Richmond Hill Inn, etc., where Stewart brought up the fact that those restaurants served foie gras (which I disagree is more necessary to address than animals slaughtered and sold in any other form, sausage, bacon, burgers, extending to dairy and eggs, but whatever). I think it’s completely relevant here.

    I don’t see why we’re limited to positive comments on sausage. I mean, if this were an article about sweatshops, would the comments be limited to positive comments on sweatshops? If this were an article about a restaurant that cooked and served human flesh (anybody here see Sweeney Todd? :D) would we be limited to positive comments about it? Heck, if somebody went to this restaurant and didn’t LIKE it, would they be barred from criticizing it on here??

  17. X, you can’t critize him for bad food… I’ve eaten there several times, the food is GREAT.

    And critizing him because of Vegan religious believes is not (pun as EVER intended) germaine to this issue.

    This was a joyful article and you guys try to ruin it with stupid veggie tricks. Excuse me, but I find that offensive.

    Chill out and leave the majority of us to enjoy our food.

  18. [b]xvelouria and Ralph[/b]: Food moderating isn’t really my beat, but it seems relevant enough to mention the animal rights topic here, as long as it doesn’t become solely argumentative or derail the overall conversation.

    As has become my mantra on the subject of recent, however, I would request that if you want to talk [b]exclusively[/b] about larger topics such as animal rights, and not so much about Bavarian Restaurant’s tasty sausages, please take it to the forums.

    I’ve started a thread about just this topic, which you can find here:
    http://www.mountainx.com/forums/viewthread/161/P0/

  19. that’s good, Steve… I’ll let Stewart and X knock themselves out there while I go get a great bratwurst with spicy brown mustard. … this taste trumps all their arguments.

  20. xvelouria

    Okay, I’ll stick to the forums for now. At least there’s a somewhat logical discussion taking place (please stay away Ralph!). :)

  21. AshaKasha

    Hey- I can’t believe my veggie friends didn’t mention the fabulous vegan sausages (italian, kielbasa, etc.) that Tofurkey puts out. Had one today, as a matter of fact- with a yummy horseradish mustard we found at Amazing Savings.

    See- us miserable vegans get to enjoy sausages, too! 19 grams of protein, to boot :0) AND- they’re torture free! Yeah!

  22. AshaKasha, how many soy beans died to make those veggie sausages? If you are against the torture of life for food, you should be COMPLETELY against it. Anything less is simply hypocrisy.

    NO MORE VEGECIDE! Eat meat.

    Thank you.

    Besides, I’ve tried vegan hot dogs and faux sausage several times — they all truly suck dirty brown dish water as to taste. NOTHING is worth that.

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