A very memorable time of my life occurred between 2003 and 2008 when I was blessed to live in Bavaria, a southern German state. I lived in a small village called Strasslach, which is just south of Gruenwald. It was a beautiful little village filled with good and friendly people. There was a Catholic church, an Apotheka (drugstore), a Grundschule (school ages 6 – 11), a metal working shop and, most prominently, a Biergarten/Restaurant and Metzgerei (butcher shop) called Gasthof zum Wildpark and Metzgerei Roiderer.
I could often be found at the Biergarten having lunch or just a snack and a Mass of Beir. Some of my favorite lunches were Suelze (roast pork in aspic), or a Pressack platter which came with white and red Pressack covered in rings of shaved onion, sprinkled with vinegar and maybe lettuce and tomato wedges on the side. It was usually served with Schnittlauch Brot, a slice of rye bread spread with butter and chives. Somedays it would be Obazda and Brezen for lunch. Obazda is a delicious cheese spread made with butter and Camembert and seasonings. I have not yet managed to make Obazda that tastes right. It is always too bitter. Some days I would simply have a Leberkaese Semmel mit mittelscharf Senf (semi-hot mustard), and eat it while walking home. Leberkaese is a loaf which is best described as a humongous meatloaf made of weiner meat. That is pretty much what it tastes like. A Semmel is a bread roll that is crusty on the outside and wonderfully chewy on the inside. Right now, I wish I was home in Strasslach.
Snacks were usually very simple affairs such as a plate of white radishes (Bierradi) thinly sliced and sprinkled with salt, and served with butter and maybe a slice or two of rye bread. Brezen (pretzels) were a Biergarten favorite. I always accompanied my snacks with a glass or two of either Helles, or Weissbier. Helles was a light colored lager, and weissbier was a spicy wheat beer. When I say spicy, I mean clovey, with a hint of bananna.
I went to the Metzgerei three to four times a week. For the first two years I went there, I placed my order in broken German. I still remember my first day. My communications consisted of pointing, clucking, oinking and mooing. By and by, I learned to speak German well enough to place an understandable order, and even chat a bit. After about two years, I went in for one of my shopping trips, placed my order in German, and the woman behind the counter asked, “Will that be all today, Mr. Simonson?” She spoke in flawless English. My look must have been comical, because all of the ladies behind the counter started to laugh. It turns out that she thought her command of the English language was poor, and so she was too embarrassed to speak to me in English. I reminded her that my first words to her were spoken in Oinkish.
I had several favorite haunts, but the differences were mostly ambience. Not that there weren’t differences in the food, but the differences were all comparing and contrasting one excellent dish to another. Wildpark, for instance, redecorated while we lived in Strasslach. They went from the traditional German restaurant look (dark woods and dim lighting) to a lighter colored wood paneling, and seats/banquettes, and brighter lighting. Gasthaus zum Muehle, was very dark, with a wood burning furnace on one end of the front room. It had smaller windows and dim lighting, but it was warm and cozy. This restaurant was on the Isar river, and was the launch point for the famous Party Barges! The Klosterbräustüberl Schäftlarn was also an older looking traditional place, but it was much lighter due to it’s large windows. This was one of my favorite places to relax with a meal and a beer. Sitting in the Biergarten I could look across the street and watch the kids from the Gymnasium playing sport or just lounging during a break.
As I finish writing a post I never intended to write, it brings me sadness to realize that I don’t have photos of these wonderful places in which I spent so much time, had wonderful conversations and made so many memories. The few I have, I will post.