Friday, September 01, 2006

Memorable Meals: Munich

I’ve gotten some feedback that some of you would like to hear about my favorite places to eat in the world. Today I’m beginning a series called “Memorable Meals” where I will write about those places that loom large in my memory, rather than my latest restaurant experience. I will, of course, include the latest information about the establishment in case you’re inspired to seek it out on your own.

There’s a German word, gemütlich, which means pleasant and congenial and has connotations of coziness. I found the embodiment of that word as I stepped through the doorway of a small 400 year old stone building in Munich’s Viktualienmarkt on a gray rainy evening. The Bratwurstherzl
restaurant is at least as old as the Viktualienmarkt, where meats and produce have been offered in the open air daily for nearly 200 years. I imagine that their earliest customers would feel right at home there today. Though it’s close to the heart of the tourist Munich, the majority of patrons always seem to be speaking German.

Here homemade bratwurst is grilled over beechwood coals and the local Hacker-Pschorr beer is tapped from a wooden barrel. Although there’s an extensive menu of Bavarian specialties, I wasn’t going to visit the Bratwurstherzl and skip the bratwurst. I ordered a plate of twelve sausages with Weinsauerkraut and a beer. Now before you get too excited about the twelve sausages, let me explain that traditional Bavarian bratwurst is made into small links about the size of American breakfast links.

The bratwurst was served on a heart-shaped tin plate with the Weinsauerkraut in a separate dish. It was quite simply the best sausage, the best beer and the best kraut I’ve ever had. Ever. The bratwurst was juicy without being greasy and was delicately perfumed by the beechwood smoke. The kraut was not too sour, filled with complex flavors, nothing like the hot dog topping we know in the States. The beer was sublime, with a wonderful yeasty, slightly floral taste and a long-lasting foamy head.

I think that this place is so special, that it’s worth visiting every time you’re in Munich to sample the old favorites and try new ones like traditional pretzels and schnitzels. My clients have come back with glowing reports after I recommended it to them. Why don’t you try it too?

Bratwurstherzl is located at number 1 Dreifaltigkeitsplatz not far from the Marienplatz subway station. They’re open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.

Photo Credit: Becky Gould

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