"It's not much but it's ours"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


If Day Two was a relatively sober day then the beginning of Day Three was more sobering still.

HP suggested that we take the short S-bahn journey to visit the memorial site that is now preserving the horrors of Dachau. I was not certain I wanted to go. This was, after all, part of a journey to do research for a hopefully informative, but light-hearted book about food around the globe not a trip to the blackest corners of man’s inhumanity to man.

In the end, I decided to join HP. As the last of the survivors of these atrocities begin to die naturally, there are too many opportunities for people to claim that it never happened or ‘was not as bad as people make out”

Shame on them. Now, I have seen what happened and one of the places where it happened and, walking around what was once the roll call yard, as the Sunday morning winds cut through my heavy coat, I shuddered at the suffering of those who had gone before standing there in only their thin prison uniforms not certain if they would see out the day alive.

Unsurprisingly, we were silent on the return journey to the centre of Munich and what we had seen sat heavily on our shoulders. However, our spirits were lifted by the sight of my old publishing chum, Isabelle Fuchs, another local who had promised to show us around for the day.

Although originally from Austria, Isabelle has been in the city for years and knows every last nook and cranny.

It was past 2pm and we had not eaten, so Isabelle’s first port of call was Andechser-Am-Dom, another Augustiner beer hall close to the main catherdral.

As always seems to be the case, it was packed (when do these people work?) but they squeezed us into a communal table and Isabelle ordered us a schnitt of double bock. Double bock is the extra strength dark brew and is served in normal sized glasses but in small measures called schnitts which consist mainly of foam. They look benign, but a couple of them will have you reeling. They certainly did that to us and I was pleased when plates of food were plopped in front of us by the owner.

HP chose well, but then he always does. A blutwurst (blood sausage) came on a plate of roasted sauerkraut and broken roasted potatoes. The sausage was surprisingly spicy but not quite as much as one of the two types of sausage that adorned my own plate. The Germans don’t seem to have much of a taste for hot stuff and this seemed out of character but Isabelle assured us it was very popular around those here parts.

Isabelle was keen to show us more of “her” city and took us to The English Garden which, I am reliably informed, is one of the largest in Europe ( to put it in scale, larger than Central Park and smaller than Richmond Park) As the Sun began to sink and the light changed you can easily see why it is one of the Munchener’s favourite places to go for a stroll. Mind you, it also began to get cold and the thick sheet of ice on the mad made lake was a testament to how much colder it was going to get.

We decamped to a bar and began looking at a local listing magazine Isabelle had brought with her to decide on a venue for our last meal of the trip. I would love to say that we opted for fish or that we tried one of the many Michelin starred restaurants in the city. But, I would be telling a big fat lie. We, of course, chose yet one more beer hall for our last meal.

This time, with Isabelle as our guide, we found ourselves in The Augustiner Braustuben on Landsberger Strasse.

We moved away from a diet of pure pork this time although the opening dish of Saures Lungerl (a stew made of calf’s lung) sated our immediate meat needs for a little while at least.

The stew was dense and rich and a dash of vinegar to the sauce cut through the slight fattiness. The dumpling, made of bread, of course remained untouched.

Our main courses were, well, they were enormous. Half a duck, a schnitzel that could blot out The Sun and a Braumeisterpfan was a bit of a mix & match of assorted meats.

It is ugly as Hell to look at German food, but, it is damn tasty and suits its environment perfectly. It also suits the people who eat it. The Bavarians may be civilised and discreet, but under all that propriety, there are few people who know how to have such a good time and few people who care less about what others think of them as they do it.

After dinner, another necessary walk to see The Lady Of Bavaria flashing her armpits at the field which hosts Ocktoberfest every year and then, all back to Isabelle’s for some primo bootleg schnapps which saw us float happily back to our hotel.

And that, mein Damen und Herren, was about it for Munich. Oh, we flopped about a bit the next morning before heading back to the airport and, once we were there, we had a few beers of course. But, that last meal of good food, good beer and good company was a perfect full stop to a great weekend

It may not be everyone’s idea of a perfect destination for a Winter break but, I suspect next year, when I am pondering where to go to drag me out of the malaise that hits me in post-Christmas London, Munich will be pretty near the top of the list.



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