Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Charming Munich

Delightful, charming downtown Munich seems to be a bit of a counterpoint to everything precisely and efficiently German. My husband reminds me that southern Germany and especially the Bavaria region is more relaxed and casual than efficient and staid northern Germany.  What lovely Bavarian architecture, cute, cute, cute winding streets and passages leading towards one after another lovely square.  It is snowing and continues to snow for the time we are here.  Beautiful.

Everywhere one turns there are displays of Wurst (sausage), most made from pork and other ingredients:  Rotwurst, Weisswurst, Bratwurstchen, Kockwurst, Rohwurst, etc. etc.  We have no choice but to delay our recent budding vegetarianism. 

Our hotel – the Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski is located in the city center right on Maximilianstrasse.  This is a lovely hotel with quite an international clientele.  The lovely Marienplatz square and the famous Glockenspiel is just a few streets over - just between Karlsplatz and Marienplatz over near Sparkassenstrasse and Landschaftstrasse.  Every German word seems to go on and on.   I finally have started to just say the first syllable and then mutter for a few minutes.  This seems to work ok.

Dinner on our second night in Munich is quite memorable.  Albarone (on Stollbergstrasse), an Italian restaurant, has been recommended by local acquaintances and we can tell pretty quickly that this is not a touristy place.   There is a fixed menu every night and the chef chooses a white and a red wine, which he feels will best accompany the food.  We love not having to decide on our menu – it is like being invited for dinner at someone’s home.   This is a fairly casual restaurant and so we are surprised to find out we will have about 9 courses throughout the evening.  We start at 7:00 pm and don’t leave until close to midnight - so very civilized and old world.   I’m not sure if they have more people in the kitchen but we see only one waitress and the chef (who helps serve) all evening.  I’m not sure how they do it with 12 tables but the service is excellent.

We start with a tuna carpaccio with cooked chicory, then a beet, mozzarella and arugula salad, followed by a sautéed quail served with a delicious potato salad with a balsamic reduction with a peanut garnish, then a pumpkin soup, then a homemade ravioli with cod, then a risotto with tomato and sausage sauce, then some type of fish with an onion marmalade, then a beef course (I have stopped remembering dishes at this point…) then a lovely dessert.   Gracious!  Everything is extremely tasty and beautifully and elegantly presented.  Our white Italian wine is a Sanct Valentin (very appropriate as it is Valentine’s day) made with pinot bianco grapes.  White Italian wines are always a bit iffy for me– this one was excellent.

We are off to Vienna in the morning but I would love to return to Munich.   Next time I intend to make sure to read up on King Ludwig II of Bavaria and then take myself on a tour of notable sites involving this interesting character. 

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