Ralf's Does Homemade Sausages RightBy, Sheila Livadas
Sausage making isn't a fleeting interest for Ralf Piotrowski, it s a gripping passion and he s traveled to Germany to prove it. The seeds of Piotrowski professional aspirations, though, were sown at Hartman's Old World Sausage Shop, on North Clinton Avenue, where he once worked as a dishwasher. I learned how to make sausages at Hartman's, and then I did an apprenticeship in Germany for three years, Piotrowski said. The exams were in German, and the reading could be a little tough, but I learned everything from slaughtering to book work. That prepared me for my dream- to open my business. As the number of local sausage shops continues to dwindle, Piotrowski feels a sense of satisfaction from pursuing such a labor-intensive career at his business, Ralf's European Meats & Delicatessen, on Dewey Avenue. Sometimes I work 12 to 16 hours a day. During the holidays, it can be 20. But this business is diversified, meaning that if get bored I just create new products because 90 percent of what I sell, I make , he explained. With help for Piotrowski parents, Peter and Angelika, and sister Nancy Piotrowski-Underwood, new customers receive a thorough overview of the store s superb selection of German specialties. Highlights include bockwurst, turkey headcheese white bologna seasoned with parsley, omelet loaf, which gets it's kick from red and green bell peppers, bacon, eggs, and cheese, and smoked liverwurst. The store also offers sauerbraten, the classic beef roast jazzed up by the juniper berries and pickling spices and pre-packaged , heat-and-serve smoked pork chops or blood sausages with sauerkraut. Fans of European imports squeal with delight at goodies such as plum butter, gooseberry jam, rye crisp bread, rum stollen, anise candy, and Austrian pumpkin seed oil. The store also has mini marzipan pigs, which Germans typically purchase as good luck charms, but there's a little chance that Piotrowski will need to raid the supply, on account of his considerable talent for producing high-quality meats.