HERMANO SEGUNDO: MUNCHING IN MUNCHEN
And so it begins.
The next few months will see me leave behind the relative tranquillity of the Summer and fall headlong into the maelstrom of travel that is my usual Autumn/Winter schedule.
This week? Munich and Madrid. Just as I get ready to spend half my life in an airport, raised security measures decide that I may as well spend the other half of my life there too.
Heathrow was as horrible as you would imagine given recent events. An hour waiting in a tent before being allowed into the terminal, another hour plus in the security line before having to almost strip bare before going through the scanner and then another search just before I got on the plane. Mmm? An Indian name with a British passport. Profiling anyone?
Still, I just about had time to pick up a copy of “Runner’s World” before dashing to the gate.
The flight itself was harmless enough and we landed at Munich airport on time and 40 minutes later I was checked in to the charming Hotel Opera just a few seconds from Maximillian Strasse.
Until my colleague arrives tomorrow, I am going to be all on my lonesome, so I had asked around and done a little bit of net research and decided on a solo supper at Spaten Haus, a famous Bavarian restaurant opposite the Opera House. Reports marked it down as a place with good, hearty food which was to quote “ popular with tourists and locals alike” So it turned out. A simple room with a wide menu offered in three languages which is often not a good sign, but the majority of the throng seemed to be locals drinking unfeasibly large beers and chugging down cigarettes almost as fast as they were downing the beer and that was just the women.
Hearty would certainly be the word, I don’t think that anyone would ever accuse Bavarian cooking of being dainty. More, it is an assault course, a veritable challenge to both mind and colon.
I began with a light dish of Matje Herring soused and served with a creamy apple salad and the inevitable boiled potatoes. The herring were thick and meaty and the sharpness of the dressing cut through the oiliness of the meat beautifully. The apple salad I could take or leave. I left the potatoes totally much to the annoyance of the waiter. “I don’t eat potatoes much” I whined apologetically. He just gave me a look of withering contempt the like of which I thought was reserved for flashers but, I’m a grown up and if I don’t want to eat potatoes, I damn well wont.
The main course was, quite frankly, ludicrous. The waiter warned me “it is quite big” But, I waved him away. I have now learned that when a Bavarian tells you it is a lot of food, you had better listen up buddy. The “Bavarian Plate” is a speciality. It is also likely to be the cause of a few premature heart attacks. It comprises, two types of wurst, braised duck, suckling pig, sauerkraut along side two softball sized dumplings one made from potatoes and the other from pork liver just in case you did not get enough meat. The couple at the table next to me just laughed when they saw the plate and asked if they could take a picture to show their family in Frankfurt.
I finished quite a bit of it, but in the end, the dumplings beat me and sat there mocking me not even a third finished which led to another stern glance from the waiter. His gander ( about the only meat not on there) was further got up by my refusal to entertain the thought of a , dumpling based dessert.
So, I got the bill and staggered out. The fresh air did me the world of good and I thought a beer at The Hofbrauhaus, the most famous of the Munich beer halls would help wash things down. Unfortunately, I could not really face any booze after the last couple of days and I was also scared away by large ruddy faced men in shorts playing Oompah music ,so fled the scene.
The area around the beer hall seems to be owned entirely by celebrity chef Herr Schubenk with a number of bars and restaurants, a cookery school, a wine bar and an ice cream shop all bearing his imprimata. I stopped off for a quick cone of choccy ice cream before staggering off back to the hotel for an early night.
So, the trip season begins in earnest. This has been a fun start, but I am certain, the wurst is yet to come. You just knew I was going to fit that in there somewhere, no?