Eat (& drink) here: Munich Brauhaus, Melbourne (German)

Munich Brauhaus
45 S Wharf Promenade South Wharf, Melbourne
http://www.munichbrauhaus.com/

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Winter is coming! Finally! I’m not a summer girl. My pale, porcelain doll complexion, love of tea drinking and book reading in my PJs, serious lack of body confidence required for skimpy summer attire and generally introverted nature are far more conducive to a perfectly cold European winter than a sunny Melbourne summer.

I’m not really sure what it was about the winter I spent in Italy with my family when I was 17, but ever since, cold weather has always made me think of Europe. They know how to do winter right: beautiful warm coats and leather boots, gorgeous markets in snowy town squares, and properly warming and comforting food. While most people would probably think of Oktoberfest at a place like Melbourne’s Munich Brauhaus, all I could think of was how nice it was to come out of the cold after an exhausting week into such a big, warm place with some great friends and food that just screams “let me warm you up!”

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An already large front bar gives way to a cavernous dining hall, where the appropriately dressed staff and continuously flowing drinks promise you a good time before you’ve even made it to your seat. We settled in and ordered a pretzel each ($4.50) to get started while we read through the menu. Dense, warm and doughy, perfect way to start the meal! It was also nice to know that my pretzel recipe is actually pretty spot on comparatively!

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The menu choices, both food and drinks, are extensive, so we decided to try it all with the tasting plate. We had the option of one tasting plate each, or we could have it brought out on one big, communal board. “They ring the bells when they bring it out to you!” Sure, let’s get the giant sharing board…

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And to the accompanying ringing of the bells, a procession emerged from the kitchen, carrying the board of carnivore dreams. $41 per person will get you a selection of five different types of sausages (I don’t really know what they all were, but everyone really enjoyed them!)…

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… a pile of pork that included a big, juicy pork knuckle which is what you can see front and centre below (after having sat there for an hour, we realised that around 80% of the other diners had ordered pork knuckles of their own. It’s bloody amazing, and if you’re only going to get one dish when you visit, make this it; juicy, tender pork shelled in salty, crispy, golden skin. It’s all your meat dreams come true), crispy golden schnitzel, and the most heavenly crispy skinned pork belly with the most perfectly rendered fat and tender meat…

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… oh, and don’t forget the sides! Mashed potato, sauerkraut,red cabbage, apple sauce and bier jus, to create the absolute perfect package.

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For $41 each, we rolled out absolutely and completely stuffed. But don’t be tricked into thinking it was just quantity; this is one of those rare instances that you’re getting absolute quality as well. The tasting plate is the best way to get a proper taste of it all because when faced with the menu choice of pork knuckle OR sausages OR pork belly, I mean, how do you choose between children like that?! Everything was cooked perfectly, and there wasn’t a single thing on that monster board that any of us really disliked.

Another big plus was the staff – I’ve been here more than once now, and they do such a great job of making sure everyone is looked after (no mean feat in such a massive place); as soon as an empty stein was placed on the table, a checkered shirted staff member would magically appear to offer another one. They helpfully offered the boys the cheaper happy hour beers when they ordered more expensive ones initially, and knew the dessert menu back to front, with helpful suggestions thrown in, too. They do such an awesome job of being insanely professional and still creating such a fun atmosphere at the same time – you wouldn’t believe what a well-oiled machine they are unless you’ve seen them at work!

So, as the weather turns colder in Melbourne and you and yours are looking for a place to warm up with some steins and sausages on a Friday night after work, make your way over to Munich. You know, if you can’t quite afford a plane ticket to Germany for real. It’s a solid substitute for the night!

Munich Brauhaus on Urbanspoon

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Disneyland eats: Award Weiners, Wetzels Pretzels & Tangaroa Terrace

Quite a few food options in the fantasy city that is Disneyland, and incredibly hit and miss as to what’s worth spending your money and calories on! Some of the places I enjoyed for a cheap eat on the run:

Award Weiners
Hollywood Land – California Adventure Park
– they do their dogs on wholemeal buns and even offer a side of apple slices instead of fries as a healthy option.

Wetzel’s Pretzels
Downtown Disney
– we tried the pretzel dog which was completely delicious, but they also did standard pretzels, sweet pretzels and even pretzel pizzas!

Tangaroa Terrace
Disneyland Hotel
– hidden in the hotel grounds, best option for a quick post-parade dinner at a decent price when all the other food spots have 30-60min waits. They have some burger/sandwich options as well as salads (I had a salad with kale, cabbage, pineapple, tomato, toasted macadamia nuts and tofu.. Which was crumbed and deep fried and absolutely, disturbingly amazing!!) and kids meals.

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Cook this: Oktoberfest Pretzels

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It’s not Oktoberfest without pretzels, and if you’re going to do something like this, you do it properly. As soon as we decided Oktoberfest was happening, I concurrently decided that home made pretzels were going to happen, too. I was going to make them myself, from scratch, and they were going to be awesome (God willing). Guess the baking gods were smiling on me, because I nailed them!

With a fantastic recipe I got from Feast Magazine (no idea how long ago it was, I just know that I cut it out and kept it, knowing that one day, surely, I’d need it), I steeled myself to face what I assumed would be a cumbersome and daunting task. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t Completely anti-climactic. There was nothing complicated or scary about this at all! I wish I could claim I’d slaved away for hours, and that there was a terrifying kitchen experience to tell everyone about when they first saw these golden twists, but actually, the process isn’t as impressive as the end result looks!

Don’t get me wrong; just because the procedure wasn’t laborious and complex doesn’t mean the end product wasn’t a thing of beauty. I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of anything I’ve baked before these pretzels. They were literally the definition of perfect! Once they’ve sat out of the oven for a while, they harden up like a proper, legitimate Brauhaus type pretzel. They’re crunchy on the outside and impossible soft and airy on the inside. They are a dead set, top notch professional job. Henceforth, pretzels shall be made regularly in my kitchen, and shall be consumed with beer and wine, regardless of the time of year. They’re that good!

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To make 12:
– 525g plain flour
– 375ml lukewarm milk
– 1tsp caster sugar
– 7g sachet dried yeast
– coarse salt to sprinkle on top

1. Sift the flour into a large bowl with around 1tsp salt.

2. In a small bowl, combine the milk, sugar and yeast, stirring to dissolve.

3. Pour the milk mix into the flour and stir it to combine. Then, using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, knead/mix the dough for around 10 minutes; it should form a soft and smooth and very elastic dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes.

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and divide into 12 equal pieces. Gently roll the dough pieces into long, thin logs (around 40-50cm long).

5. Twist the dough into pretzel shape by laying it in a U shape, then cross the ends over and and bring both ends back to the curve in the U. Dab a little water onto the two ends before you press them down onto the U to join them. Place them on a large plate or baking tray lined with baking paper as you go.

6. Let the pretzels sit uncovered for 30 minutes, then cover them in plastic wrap and refrigerate preferably overnight, but no less than 3 hours.

7. After they’ve rested, pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

8. Combine 1L water, 1tbs salt and 1tbs bicarb soda in a large pot. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Immerse each pretzel, one at a time, in the solution for 10 seconds, then return to a baking paper lined oven teat. Sprinkle each with salt, and bake for 15 minutes, or until nicely golden. Eat them warm with a little butter and mustard. Or cold, with butter and mustard. Just eat lots of them, they’re so, so good!