Friday 12 October 2007

Oktoberfest..... not to be recommended as a spectator sport! Having arrived in Munich last Sunday for a few days' work, I can vouch for this fact, as my first evening coincided with the Beer-swillers' last blast, and the centre of town was densely populated with international revellers distinctly the worse for wear. On the whole, it was the foreigners who seemed most on the point of physical collapse, whilst the effect of the beer intake on the lederhosen-clad locals (and what a daft costume is that!) was to make them even more carefully ramrod straight, if a little steely-eyed in their determination not to fall over.....

Bavarian food takes no prisoners, and by the time I was back at the airport, on Wednesday, I'd consumed enough slabs of cooked-to-death fleisch and servings of sauerkraut, and kartoffeln served up in myriad formats to last me a lifetime. On Monday evening I was part of a very jolly group - some new friends, and some of ancient long-standing - whose choice for dinner was an italian restaurant nestling in the shadows of the Frauenkirche, where we sat outside and were served prawn salad incongruously garnished with raspberries (excellent raspberries, I hasten to add, despite their surprising context) and I played safe and followed it with tagliatelle con salsiccie, all washed down with a perfectly serviceable pugliese red. It was a splendid evening, all told - but I have to confess that I thought rather longingly of the boconcini of tuna, wrapped in lardo di colonnato and then fried which I'd had for lunch at Cammillo in Florence the previous Friday.....

Tuesday was an 'oh, what the Hell!......In for a penny.....' event, when I met Sonia for dinner, and she took me to the most bavarian of all choices in town, a place called Beim Sedlmayer, where the menu-planning definitely has in mind the approach of a long, hard winter, and the recurring theme of the place is foot-tall glasses brimming with frothy weiss bier. And frequently re-filled. In memory of a shared cooking occasion in Greece nearly three decades ago, we had a couple of semmelsknoedel which were awe-inspiring in their density and sheer weight. No surprise that I ended up choosing to go by foot all the way back to the hotel afterwards, in an effort to walk some of it off.....!

There were some lighter moments, though. The advent of mushroom season was evident on every restaurant menu, and I'd be amazed if there's a chanterelle now left standing within several hundred miles of Munich, given the number of dishes that appear to major on it. Pfefferlinge is the name in German, which is rather charming. And remarkable not least for the fact that the english name for chanterelle appears to be ......chanterelle. Walking back amongst the darkened stalls of the market, it was clear that in daytime there are whole businesses devoted exclusively to trade in pfefferlinge, which to me suggests a rather softer side to the bavarians than the image portrayed by the lederhosen and bristly titfers.........

London now for the next fortnight.

Tonight's Dinner:

Tart shells, with sautéed funghi and fegatini, in a cream and sherry and ginger sauce.

Roast Beef; Celeriac and Carrots roast in duck fat; Yorkshire Pudding.

Baked Apples, stuffed with amaretti biscuits soaked in hazelnut liqueur.

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