Tuesday, August 9, 2011

G&W Bavarian Style Sausage Company

Groupon has become a sort of addiction for Gene (my beau) and I. To say that the money savings isn't a motivating factor would be a lie, but it also encourages us to try new places and trying new places is a bit of a hobby for me. After all, what would I write about otherwise.

One of the Groupons that we purchased a while ago was for G&W Bavarian Sausage Company. I had a faint recollection of my mom going on and on about this little sausage shop in The Hill neighborhood of St. Louis and thought maybe this was the place. Indeed it was the very same shop, although, more accurately its in the Tower Grove neighborhood. G&W isn't a restaurant or deli counter but more of a butcher shop, a rather busy butcher shop, known, of course for their sausage. As a matter of fact their motto is "You can't beat our meat". Let me just give you a minute to get all the naughty jokes out of your system..... ready? A bit more? OK, one more moment.

Alright moving on. The first impression you have of this place is that its relatively small with an odd parking situation. Basically you park where you can find space across the side street the shop is located on. The second thing that hits you is the large 3D one horned bull head that greets you above the door. Let's go ahead and say these people claim to be great at sausage, not iconography. Gene and I made our decision to visit G&W on a Saturday when an errand of his took us into the general area. This errand also happened to require us to take his Un-air-conditioned truck. Needless to say, I was HOT and in a hurry to get inside so I didn't take much time to ponder the one horned bull.

There is a little bakery in my home town, maybe you have heard of it, Kruta. It has a reputation of being particularly crowded on Saturday's. You take a number as you enter then chat with the locals, peruse the cases filled with creamy, crumbly confections, and pray you haven't gotten there too late to get your favorite pastry. On any given Saturday the counter is ten deep all the way down its 15 foot counter. Entering G&W is like entering that bakery but with twice as many people and half the space. WHOA! I took a number, 92. They were serving 77. Not bad, several people behind the counter, should move quickly. 5 minutes later, "serving 77". Huh? Then I noticed the sign "Please be patient and take a number, we're worth the wait". OK, I can deal with this. They take their time with each customer and I have to respect that.

Then I noticed something else you never see at the little home town bakery, or well, ANYWHERE. I saw people walking around with cans of Busch Beer. Check my watch, slightly after noon. Are people anticipating the wait and bringing in their own beer? Then I heard it "Need a Beer?" Need a what? Folks behind the counters were handing out cold beers to the customers waiting. I began to think that perhaps people intentionally came here when it was busy just so they would get a free beer. You could tell some of the patrons were regulars as they would slide behind the counter to grab their beer and chat with the staff.

This would be a great time to mention that one of the staff members is a guy with a heavy German/Austrian/Bavarian? accent whose wife worked their for years until she passed away. He just shows up on Saturdays to help out. Did we all get sucked into a vortex and end up in a fantasized Brighten Beach... where's Jonathan Silverman? The rest of the staff is made up of several hurried, cheerful men and women, girls, and a cute little college aged boy I swear I knew from somewhere. They scurry back and forth grabbing sausages (OK another moment), wrapping and ringing up orders, and ducking into the back where large sausage making mechanisms are visible. Busy Bee's every one of them.

The store itself is lined with cases of their famous sausage, lunch meats, raw cuts of various parts of animals, including liver. The tops of the cases are arranged with gift packs, a basket with what used to be Gus' pretzels, samples of their beef sticks, butcher paper, and scales. The shelves directly opposite house various German centric candies and pantry items. The customers are a mix of trendy women who desire to be in the know of the quaint little neighborhood places (hi mom), old German women shopping for "tin" liver (that's 'thin' for those who need translating), and hot sweaty people who came in for the free beer or the Groupon.

Gene and I both maxed out and surpassed the value of our Groupon loading up on specialty sausages and brats. I should say he loaded up on brats while I loaded up on specialty sausage: Chorizo, polish, hot links, Hungarian, andouille, salsiccia, and on and on. We exited with our crisp white butcher paper bundles and hurried to the nearest Walgreen's to buy ice. Remember the HOT day and the no air conditioning? We weren't taking any chances with our new prizes!

So, now you want to know how it tastes. Does it live up to the hype? Were they, indeed, worth the wait? While we haven't had an opportunity to try all of the variety we purchased we've cooked up a couple different types. The first we tried was the salsiccia. This is an Italian sausage that is typically a pork sausage and spiced according to the region of Italy they call home. This particular salsiccia was of the southern variety and spiced primarily with fennel. We used them to cook up some sausage and peppers on hoagie rolls. I abandoned my hoagie roll and peppers to fill my belly with the comforting, fennel-ly, juiciness of the salsiccia. I expected it to be spicier or sweeter but it had a real savory quality to it and it didn't loose any of its moisture in the cooking process. This might be a good place to mention that most of their meats are fully cooked before selling which take a bit of the paranoia out of the prep process for me. We also sampled the Hungarian brat in a red pepper penne dish. Their Hungarian brats are spiced with paprika and garlic. It was a satisfying, meaty, juicy treat.

Both Gene and I thought the taste of the sausage was indeed worth the wait, the trip, the purchase of a bag of ice and a new cooler, the heat, the crowd. But given all of that, the quality and taste of the sausage really feel like the icing on the cake here. I would never consider placing an order for shipping, which they do offer by the way, because half the worth is the store itself. The people, the process, the location, the history, its all part of the package, encased in a tiny off the main road store with a one horned bull on the front.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! Great story of a neighborhood deli...made me miss St. Louis :( I do miss a lot about the city. Makes me wonder, sometimes, if we should have stayed...