Well after all that fat, dinner began with lean duck breast and salad, although it did have a healthy layer of fatty skin, I’m happy to say. Neumarkt chef Rene Zimmermann followed my recipe, using figs, which were in season, rather than blackberries that weren’t. This is exactly how recipes should be approached, smart alternatives rather than following them to the letter.
The main course was braised oxtail with suet dumplings. Cooking for over 50 guests and making my recipe for 6 are very different exercises. Chefs are good at scaling up recipes, but Rene made a small mistake, which he explained at the end of the meal. He used dry not fresh breadcrumbs to make the dumplings thinking it would be fine. It wasn’t and he was the first to admit it, the usually light dumplings were unfortunately dense.
We began with pork fat, then duck fat followed by suet and now it was butter’s turn to star. Every fat covered in the meal – perfect. The final course was my pepper and orange pound cake, a rather Germanic choice, I thought as I never serve this type of cake for dessert. We washed all this down with a delicious Swiss red wine and then Rene introduced my husband to Alpwhisk.
This is a unique product and it’s history is here with a photo of chef Rene, he’s the taller one. If, like me, your German is very weak run the page through the translator, it is not great, but you’ll get the sense. Alpwhisk was the idea of Rene and Stefan Keller, an alcohol based on a mash of smoked chestnuts. The distilled alcohol is then aged in wine barrels. The production is small, a hundred or so bottles, and I bet we have the only bottle in North America. If you want to taste it you’ll probably have to go to Switzerland, we only have a couple of shots left.