FOOD: Jimmy Finally “Meats Up” with German Gourmet

jimmy-thumbA good lesson in the world of food — and in life, for that matter — is never to assume.

That’s the mistake I made with the German Gourmet. I figured it was a rundown market that catered to an older generation of Midwestern transplants with a few bratwursts and maybe some German mustards and breads. So, even though it’s been an institution since 1965, I never stopped by.

But at a recent Falls Church Times staff meeting I heard some good things about the small storefront. I decided it was my obligation as a food critic to at least give the place a chance. When I finally moseyed over there I found a fully stocked ethnic market with imported snacks and goodies that would make any food lover giddy. It’s without a doubt one of the most exciting food shops in the Falls Church area.


Perusing the narrow aisles on a mid-afternoon weekday, I lingered for almost an hour reading labels and inspecting strange-sounding German soup mixes. During that time a slew of people came through the store, all of whom seemed overjoyed to be there. An elderly German couple grabbed dense German bread and lemony wafer cookies. A chipper young woman talked the cashier’s ear off about her 13 years living in Germany and professed her love for the German Gourmet multiple times.

Aside from doing some serious eavesdropping, I eventually made my way to the primary draw for many people who come to the store: the meat case.

german meats 600

Fans of pork and beef and all of their tasty derivations will admire the impressive array of sausages, cold cuts and salamis on display (all of which are shipped in from Baltimore, Wisconsin, New York, and elsewhere). It’s so overwhelming that I’d recommend grabbing the brochure at the check-out counter that describes the flavor profile and ingredients of many of the items. Or you could enlist the help of the friendly employees behind the counter, who were more than patient with me while I took forever to make up my mind.

I finally settled on the fresh, smoked, and bauern varieties of bratwurst for my first foray into the world of German links. I spent half the night researching the proper way to cook them and decided on simmering them for 15 minutes and then finishing them on the grill for a nice char. Served with the German Gourmet’s chewy Brotchen rolls, each was juicy and well-seasoned. The fresh variety was a dead ringer for sweet breakfast sausage — not at all what I expected, but still tasty. The other two were more like distant, steroid-pumped cousins of the hot dog, with a little more smoke and spice. I’d have no reservations about taking any of the three to a cookout.


(Falls Church Times photos by Jimmy Scarano)

That being said, what I like best about the German Gourmet is the depth and variety of the rest of the products. The German chocolate selection is especially noteworthy. Milka, Ritter, and Hachez, three of the most revered brands in the fatherland, are all available. Imported mustards, jams, spaetzle, cookies, and breads line the shelves as well. And homesick Germans will be happy to see the Knorr, Maggi, and Dr. Oetker product lines very well represented.

The dairy case is home to some of the more exotic items — pickled herring, stinky cheeses, and pâte, to name a few — but it also has Lurpak butter, a delicious Danish import that is creamier and richer than anything made in the U.S. Not far away is a dizzying selection of German wines and beers that will satisfy even the pickiest of wine connoisseurs and brewmeisters.

There are even German pastries — strategically placed right next to the cash register for the impulse sugar purchase. Resist the urge. Most of them are brought in frozen from New York and then baked off. The hamantaschen and rugelach that I sampled tasted stale and were too sweet. You’re better off with a bar of chocolate.

Nevertheless, this place is more than worth seeking out for anyone interested in broadening their culinary horizons. I just wish I had been going there all my life so that I could tell you all the wonderful treasures that I’ve unearthed amongst the crammed shelves.

I guess I’ll just have to keep going back to find out. And next time I may go to the other location, which, if all you regulars didn’t already know, opened in 2007 on Columbia Pike and is nearly twice the size of the original.

German Gourmet: 7185 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA, 803-534-1908 — click for map

August 7, 2009 


One Response to “FOOD: Jimmy Finally “Meats Up” with German Gourmet”

  1. Bobbi Eddy on December 17th, 2009 5:21 pm

    You need to try the German Gourmet on Columbia Pike — their second store. There the pastries are delicious and fresh tasting — especially birthday delights like Marzipan and mocha cake.

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