As I have mentioned before, Nick and I have got into the habit of bringing back some goodies when we travel. Not commemorative mugs, not T-shirts, not local crafts – no, something far more important than that. Food. And of course, drink! So naturally, when we went to Munich, you would expect us to come back with our usual little picnic hamper of treats – and you would not be disappointed. In fact, when we were in Paris in August, Nick bought himself a new bag especially for this purpose – that’s how serious we are about it! Somehow the things we like best just aren’t as plentiful on supermarket shelves here (or as affordable!) as they are in Europe, so we simply stock up whenever we have the chance.
Munich, of course, was no exception. As I mentioned in a previous post, we discovered a fabulous department store in Munich called Galleria Kaufhof which has one of the more impressive food halls that I have seen outside of, say, Harrods. So on our last day we did a swoop through there and bought most of the stuff in the picture above. So let’s see… from bottom centre, moving clockwise we have:
A box of Mozartkugel chocolates – these are little balls of pistachio marzipan, surrounded by a layer of hazelnut nougat and covered in bitter chocolate, each individually wrapped and emblazoned with Wolfgang’s head. I remember my parents buying them when I was very young and savouring every mouthful. I was mystified as they were the only chocolates I wouldn’t eat. Marzipan? Yuck! I also remember being utterly amazed when I went to Vienna with my mom and found these chocolates EVERYWHERE, usually right by a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Mozart himself, directing you to the boxes of kugels. My mom took back LOADS for my dad – they were the only gift he requested, apart from a sachertorte (not shy, my dad!). I’m still not much of a marzipan fan, but I’m sure I can find somebody for whom these will be a lovely Christmas treat…
Moving clockwise we have a packet of mini Südtiroler Gipfelstürmer sausages. These are the German equivalent of Italian salami or French saucisson sec. Nick loves them as he can nibble on them when he wants a snack and they remind him of droëwors from back home…
From there we move on to my favourite – a big chunk of Tirolerspeck. Like the Mozartkugeln, this is Austrian rather than German, but given the proximity of Bavaria to Austria, I guess nobody’s going to mind! Tirolerspeck is basically a big chunk of smoky bacon with a good layer of fat and comes from the Tirol region of Austria. It bears absolutely no resemblance to what passes for bacon in British supermarkets – its colour is aubergine rather than pale pink, its texture is that of proper meat and it is cured, so you can slice and eat – no cooking required. In other words, abandon all your preconceived ideas of bacon! It is truly one of the finest things a pig can become.
A bottle of Dr Fischer Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spätlese (a late harvest) from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region of Germany. We fell in love with German wines when we visited this area over Christmas 2000 and I believe the Rieslings from here to be among the most underrated wines in the world. The vineyards cling to the most unlikely steep slopes which makes mechanical harvesting close to impossible and makes these wines rather pricey. But I think they are worth the money, and I’m sure this one won’t disappoint!
Next up is the rather beautiful bottle of blood orange liqueur (Blutorangen liqueur). I wanted to bring back a bottle of something that, unlike wine, would last a little longer than just one dinner party and this seemed like a good bet as you seldom see the fresh fruits around here, much less encounter them in liqueur form. And besides, how can you resist buying something that colour??
To the right again, we have a bottle of 2003 Ruppertsberger Nussbein Gewürztraminer Spätlese from the Pfalz region of Germany. I like Gewürztraminer – it is made from the beautiful pink-skinned gewürztraminer grape, whose name literally means "spicy Traminer" (Traminer is another grape variety). It smells characteristically of rose petals and can make spectacular late harvest wines with great spicy complexity – fabulous with curry! So I am hoping this one will live up to these high expectations!
Moving to the right and slightly downwards, we have a little bottle of Aceto Balsamico just because it looked like good stuff and the price was right!
And last but not least we have my favourites – two little bottles of La Collina sunflower oil – one infused with garlic and the other infused with truffles. But what I really love about them is the way they fit together just so – a little glass couple, dancing with each other on my kitchen shelf.
And sadly, that’s the end of our little shopping spree. I certainly hope you enjoyed checking out the contents of our basket as much as we enjoyed filling it! I will have to report back to you on how everything tastes, as and when we sample them. Until then, guten appetit to you all!