Richelbräu: Munich’s basement microbrewery

Richelbräu Munich

One of the first things you learn living in Munich is that the city has six big important breweries (Hofbräu, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, and Spaten). These breweries own most of the beer gardens and beer halls, their beer is served in most local restaurants, and they are the only breweries allowed to sell beer at Oktoberfest. All this local beer pride seems a little silly once you realize Continue reading

The most wunderbar time of the year

Christmas in Munich

It’s time for my annual I-love-Christmas-in-Germany post. The Christmas markets opened last week, looking much as they do every year. I’ve noticed a couple new stands here and there, but for the most part everything is in its place. Now if we could just have some snow to make them even cuter, I’d be in heaven.

Gluehwein at Der Pschorr

I’ve written several posts about the markets over the years, such as this one about the best Munich Christmas markets for pretty much everything (or you could just view all my posts about Christmas markets). One stop I haven’t talked about yet (but is worth a mention) is the Alpen Wahn, a cozy little stand outside Der Pschorr serving red and white glühwein until 11pm each night (which is later than most of the other markets are open). Look for it at the north end of the Schrannenhalle, just off the Viktualienmarkt.  Continue reading

Guest post: back to school with the German Schultüte

A short time ago, children all over Bavaria headed back to school for the fall term. Some of them (specifically, the first graders) were carrying unwieldy cardboard cones that were almost as big as the children themselves. I asked my friend eNVie, who recently made a Schultüte (literally: “school cone”) herself, to explain what these things are all about. Parents in Germany, take note. Here’s what she has to say: Continue reading

Munich: my own private Tatort

If you find yourself sitting in awkward silence with a German, try breaking the ice by asking him about ‘Tatort.’  The mere mention of the show makes 9 out of 10 Germans’ eyes light up as their tongues trip over their lips in a rush to push out the words to describe how they have been watching it since before they were born and they never do anything else on a Sunday night ever.

From discussions such as these I had gleaned that ‘Tatort’ is a detective series kind of like ‘Law and Order.’ It has been on since the dawn of time (1970). Each episode takes place in one of a handful of cities, each city having its own recurring cast of local detectives. Germans will be happy to tell you which cities produce the best episodes, and some even schedule their TV viewing in advance based on the location of the episode on any particular Sunday evening. This show is loved.

So when we received a note in our mailbox explaining that they would be filming an episode of ‘Tatort’ Munich on the street in front of our building, we immediately understood the importance of the occasion. Continue reading

What’s that wacky German food? Spargel

white asparagus = spargel

It’s here! Spargelzeit is here! What, you mean you don’t celebrate asparagus time where you live?

The Germans are crazy about white asparagus, a special breed that grows underground and is only harvested for a couple months each spring. Restaurants have special menus featuring white asparagus done every which way, and all the fruit and veggie stands display big piles of it, as if it’s the only thing worth eating this time of year. Preparing this Teutonic vegetable is relatively easy, but there are a few things you should know before doing it for the first time. Continue reading

A stroll through Halle

Markt in Halle an der Saale

Halle an der Saale might be one of the largest German cities you’ve never heard of. In the little-visited eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, Halle was my home for three years during the 1990s. I was thrilled when I managed to talk my friend Kim into stopping by on our way back to Munich from Leipzig a few weeks ago. Continue reading

Something I love about Germany:

The national obsession with asparagus.

Germany gets all excited in anticipation of Spargel season

This week a newspaper in Munich was promoting a feature on “the first asparagus (where it comes from, how it grows, how much it costs).” Never mind that German asparagus season is still a month away – anticipation is part of the pleasure.

Historisches Wiesn: Oktoberfest’s 200th anniversary celebration

UPDATE: The historical section of Oktoberfest was such a hit that it will be back in 2011, rebranded as the Oide Wiesn. Nostalgia and beer for everyone!

Entrance to Oktoberfest in general is free, but this year, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the first Oktoberfest, visitors were offered the privilege of paying for entry to a small section of the wiesn. This section promised something special: old-timey fun. Continue reading

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