During the months of June and July, the owners of Pen-y-bryn Lodge travelled to Europe and the United States on a promotional tour to ‘train’ travel agencies with a specialty in New Zealand on the attractions of Oamaru and the Waitaki District. One of their meetings was with an agency in Munich called Pacific Travel House, where, after a very positive meeting with their lead agents, they were invited out to one of Munich’s many beautiful beer gardens for a couple of enormous glasses of Munich’s outstanding beer. Since no one had anything to eat since lunch, it was decided that some food was in order, so a few enormous pretzels were ordered, along with a Bavarian dish called Obatzda. If you’re not familiar with Obatzda (and the New Zealanders were not), it’s a mixture of Camembert, onions, paprika and a bit of beer, all mixed together to become a spread that goes just great with fresh pretzels and beer.
Little did the German travel agent know that he was helping to develop a new item that would grace Pen-y-bryn’s tables when the pair returned to Oamaru in August. Pen-y-bryn’s chef, James Glucksman, started baking traditional Bavarian-style pretzels (complete with the requisite dip of the unbaked dough in a caustic soda solution!) within a few days of his return to the kitchen, eventually coming up with a recipe that came pretty close to the Bavarian ideal. For the Obatzda, he decided to ‘localise’ it a bit by using Oamaru’s famed Whitestone cheese in place of the Camembert. The result was a hit with Pen-y-bryn’s guests, so a note with photographs of the pretzels and Obatzda was sent to Munich to thank the travel agents for inspiring this new treat.
In recent days, a post appeared on the German travel agency’s blog all about how a pair of New Zealand lodge owners had come to Munich, met with their agents, and gone out for a beer and some food, and wound up bringing a bit of Bavaria back home with them. We thought it was a pretty nice article, so we’re linking to it here. It’s in German, though, so unless you speak it, you might want to give the Google Translate service a try to help you read it.