When you get a hankering for some real, old-fashioned German sausage, it’s good to know that down the road in the town of Hermann, MO (pop. 2,400), there’s brats a-plenty in varieties galore. The historic town is replete with fine wineries, delis, and restaurants offering visitors authentic food, drink, music and hospitality.
This past weekend was Wurst Fest, a tribute to the humble and hearty German sausage. On Sunday I met up with friends at Wurst Haus located on the main drag in Hermann, where owners Mike and Lynette Sloan turn out 45 varieties of sausage. Snow flurries and chilly temperatures had lessened the turnout, but not the quality of the food or friendly service.
The international award-winning German deli (a distinction bestowed by the Germany Butchers’ Association), was bustling. Sloan was as busy as any of his employees, greeting and seating customers and inquiring of their well being.
At the counter, I ordered the German Brat Plate ($12.99), which was large enough to allow me to take leftovers home. (Stretching one meal into two appeals to my occasional onset of thriftiness.)
Our table of five sampled the sausage offering of the day: the Reuben-style brat flavored with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut; the “Best of Show,” a hickory-smoked award winner; the Curry, that’s served with a light sauce; and the Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola.
I went for the last two. I left room a for a spoonful of my friend’s Peach Pecan Bread Pudding. The chatty server revealed that the secret ingredient to the dessert is the addition of a bit of bourbon. Since I’ve been doing that to my bread pudding for years, I smiled. Her secret was safe with me and the millions of other bread-pudding makers who do the same thing.
After lunch we roamed through the historic inn known as Hermanhof’s Festhalle. The warmth of the fireplace felt good and the receptionist took time to answer our questions and describe the many activities going on in the historic river town. Tin Mill Brewing was nearby so we strolled through the restaurant/bar that was once a mill for grinding grain. The owners have incorporated the old timbers and walls along with millstones, wagons, and photos to give evidence of the bygone era.
After several casual hours, we hadn’t scratched the surface of all that the town of Hermann has to offer its visitors: biking, antiquing, hiking, ziplining, golfing, theater. On the way out of town we stopped at Bommarito Estate Almond Tree Winery. We had been to Stone Hill, Hermannhof, and Adam Pucta on previous visits, but not this small vineyard near New Haven owned by Nick Bommarito.
Nick was in the tasting room, visiting with customers. He told me the total Estate was 21 acres, with 10 acres planted in Norton, St. Vincent, and Vignoles grapes, all varieties, that are adaptive to the climate and terrain in the area. We ordered a bottle of Almond Tree Blush for the table. Our window looked out onto a newly blossomed Bradford pear tree and the rolling hills yet to unfold their green.
The day, the visits, the food and beverage revived memories of my drive through the wine villages of Germany last fall. Hermann and the surrounding wine region bring the charm and foods of another culture into a historic setting. It’s a weekend venture best enjoyed with family or friends.
Bonus: The Amtrak station is just a hop, skip and a jump from downtown Hermann.