Our last stop on the European adventure was in Munich, Germany (other stops include Poland and Austria). One of the main reasons for choosing Munich was because of Oktoberfest. Other than liters of beer, Munich also had to offer plenty of great food.
As many of you probably know, Munich is the third largest city in Germany and the host of the 1978 Summer Olympics.
Fun Fact #3: München (in German) was derived from the Old High German, which meant “by the monks place”. The city name comes from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city- the foundation date is 1164. At that time black and gold were the colors of the Holy Roman Empire- they continue to be the city’s colors today.
Of course, the first thing we had to do was drink some German beer! The liter mugs, also referred Maß, were in all of the restaurants around Munich:
One of our favorite things, not just in Germany but in all of the cities we visited, was the plethora of outdoor seating. It’s really nice to relax outside- especially with the wonderful weather that we got throughout our trip.
After walking around the center of the city, we stopped at Hackerhouse, just blocks from the Marienplatz.
Both of these dishes (above and below) are Oktoberfest specials at the restaurant. The above meal was a variety of wurst with potatoes. Sam did say that the sausage link all the way in the back of the photo was one of the best he’s ever tasted in his life. The dish below was roasted beef with gravy and cold potato salad (with dill and cucumbers). The salad was definitely a first for me in texture and taste- but I really enjoyed- I wonder if I can replicate it!
As I mentioned before, when we were in Munich we did stop by Oktoberfest. Just walking around it feels like a state fair (I’ve only been to the state fairs in the midwest so I’m not sure what others may look like) with rides for kids, vendors with lots of food and many people just walking around.
While walking, everyone will notice that there are massive tents- 14 of them this year. Each tent is manned by a different brewery. The capacity of these tents range from 98 to 10,000! Sam and I visited 2 tents: Armbrustschützen (Bull’s Eye) and Hacker (Bavarian Heaven).
This is the entrance to Oktoberfest, as you can see there are a lot of people going in and out!
All around the campgrounds there are little kiosks selling Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread hearts). They range in size and color as well as a variety of messages. For example: Ich liebe Dich (I love you), Du bist mein sußes Herzchen (You’re my sweetheart) or Ich denke nur noch an Dich (I think only of you).
One of my favorite parts of Oktoberfest was brezn (pretzel)! The pretzels range in 3 different sizes:
1) about the size of your hand
2) about the size of your face
3) significantly larger than your head!
And yes, I had 2 of them during our visit. I don’t think any pretzel from a baseball park will ever compare. All of these are so fresh and fluffy- I think this inspired me to make some of my own very soon!
Last but not least: hendl (chicken). In each of the tents there were large of rotisserie stations getting chickens cooked. Since everyone seemed to be getting them, we had to try it. The one pictured above was finger-licking good! The crust was crispy and full of flavor, while the inside of the chicken was deliciously moist.
Fun Fact #4: During the 2011 Oktoberfest, held for 17 days, 7.5 million liters (1.98 million gallons) of beer were consumed; there were 6.9 million visitors; each Maß was €9 ($12.66); during this time there were 226,000 stolen mugs.
There is one more thing that we stumbled upon while wandering through Munich, the Viktualienmarkt. It’s a large, daily food market close to the Marienplatz (closed Sunday’s). As Munich began to grow in the 19th century the city needed a larger market, therefore, King Maximillian allowed for a large space close to the city center to be designated for the market to grow. Over the decades many stalls and pavilions were added. Unfortunately, the market was severely damaged during World War II, but due to its popularity was rebuilt soon after.
Today the market has about 140 shops and stalls filled with many fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, flowers and much more. In the center of the market stands a blue and white maypole. Maypoles can be found in many village squares in Bavaria; in the past, signs were posted all over the maypole indicating the goods and services available around that particular city. The Viktualienmarkt maypole has the following symbols: beer-carts, carousels, dancers, musicians and a fruit lady. Every year on the first of May the pole is raised by men wearing Lederhosen.
Although we have farmers markets in the US, they don’t compare to the one’s in Europe. This is just an example of one stand- so much produce to choose from!
I took a picture of this fruit (I think)- but I have no idea what it is. If anyone reading this blog knows what this is- definitely let me know. I thought it was very cool looking- lots of texture.
Since it is Germany- there were a number of pickles.
And lots of cheese!
If any of you get a chance to explore the food and drinks in Germany, you’ll enjoy your time here. Everyone we met in Munich was very friendly and helpful, lots of smiles to go around.
I hope all of you enjoyed our updates on Europe, don’t worry- recipes coming up! We didn’t have spicy food in Europe, so we had to make up for it once we got back!