Being handed a wedge of Mentges Master Meats’ popular chilli-cheese kransky across the counter shoots me straight back to childhood, my feet standing in sawdust, being handed a cabanossi stick by my local butcher. That’s about where the similarity ends though – this Germanic butcher located in Taree is actually quite unique.
From the second you walk through the door, you’re transported to Germany through the combined impact of meaty alpine wall murals, cream ceilings with exposed dark wood beams, kitsch shelving and red gingham curtains, and friendly, apron-glad staff who will sprechen sie Deutsch if you so desire.
The chilli-cheese kransky itself is the best one I’ve tried; it's smoked and cooked in natural skins. It’s all killer, no filler – and without the usual range of additions, from gristle to too much fat, preservatives, gluten, colours or monosodium glutamate (MSG) - it’s likely to be a winner for almost everyone, those with diabetes and coeliac disease included. We try out our kransky on the barbeque later in the day, and with its blend of smoked pork and beef, oozing cheese centre and light kiss of chilli on the lips, it had us wishing we'd purchased many more.
Rudi Mentges and his team hand produce more than forty different Continental meat products on the premises. They’re using local fresh meat, organic herbs, and a considerable amount of passion. You’ll taste it in their pickled and hot-smoked Kassler chops that create an easy dinner when warmed up on the grill pan with sauerkraut and mashed spuds. Kassler ham, a golden smoked loin ham, is another wonderfully lean cold cut winner. It makes me regret not giving any of their baked meatloaf varieties a whirl.
You’ll also find all manner of wurst, from Jagerwurst or hunter’s sausage, to smoked brockwurst with nutmeg, onionwurst and an interesting range of salumi, including Polish ring-shaped Krakauer.
Locals tell me the best time to visit Mentges Master Meats is on Thursdays between 8am and 1pm. This is when they host a weekly farmers’ market right on the grounds of their rather odd building, which also houses a cheese factory and store. Their market is called The Secret Weekly Farmers Market and at it you’ll find everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, local cheese, free-range eggs, honey, jams, pickles and fermented things in jars. I'm keeping this in mind the for next time I'm passing through town.
Mentges Master Meats
Lot 12, Kanangra Drive, Taree
Ph: (02) 6552 6878