The seasons in Munich are typically European, though due to its location in the south the winters can be a little colder and the summers a little warmer than the rest of the country. The advent of spring sees streets filled with budding trees and parks and squares a-bloom with flowers. Spring is also when the Italian ice cream shops open their doors and seasonal treats including rhubarb and, a little later in May, asparagus (Spargel) begin to appear. During summer, when temperatures consistently reach the 30s, the city’s beer gardens provide chilled drinks and cool shade, and menus begin to feature fresh cherries, berries and other summery flavours in their salads, sides and desserts. Autumn, a time of creamy pumpkin and leek soups, is when the city’s abundant urban foliage puts on a dazzling polychromatic display of yellows, reds and browns, and it’s also possible – around September – to witness the Viehscheid, the return of the cows from their summer pasture in the local hills. In winter it’s all about swedes, potatoes and turnips and, of course, the world-renowned Christmas markets, the largest of which take place at Marienplatz and the Englischer Garten’s Chinese pagoda. As well as merriment and handicrafts, the markets also offer specialty food and drink including Glühwein (mulled wine) and sweet treats such as Lebkuchen and Stollen. The Bavarian countryside offers a decent amount of produce, which can be found at the city’s food markets and within its seasonally themed shops and restaurants, the latter of which range from the upscale, double Michelin-star Bayerischer Hof to simple beer halls such as Wirtshaus in der Au.
One of the city’s most popular and chic seasonal restaurants, Upper Eat Side is a welcoming place offering warm service, delicious dishes made from local ingredients and an occasionally exuberant beer-hall ambience. All of the meat, fish and vegetables served are sourced from the farms, forests and lakes in and around Munich: venison is bought from hunters in Upper Bavaria, salmon, trout and char come from the chef’s own fish farm and the Isar River that runs through the city, and other meats – duck, chicken, lamb – come from the nearby Gutshof Polting farm. The menu changes not just with the seasons but each week according to availability of ingredients, though there are always six to seven starter-size dishes (carpaccio, tartare, pickled trout) that can be ordered tapas-style to share, and a couple of main fish and meat courses that can be grilled for up to ten people, as well as a choice of salads, sides and homemade herb butter. The wine list runs to 200 bottles, mostly from Germany, Austria and Northern Italy (90 of them are Rieslings), and there is a good selection of beers, including IPA, Pale, Sessions and of course white beer from local microbreweries. You may also bring your own wine (a corkage fee applies).
That Germany is a land of beer drinkers is undeniable: in 2014, the average German drank 114 litres of the stuff, which is around four times the global average. Although consumption is generally in decline due to reasons ranging from an ageing population to increasing health awareness, beer still has a dominant presence in most German towns and cities. Munich is no exception: aside from the Bavarian mega-breweries,an increasing number of independent craft breweries have begun to emerge as part of the international trend for microbrewery beers. Of the many currently scattered throughout the city, the Camba Bavaria tap-house is one of the most popular thanks to a classic, convivial interior and over 40 draught beers (mostly German but some American), supplemented by hundreds of bottled microbrews. Smaller spots like Giesinger nanobrewery also pull in the punters with their unfiltered, unpasteurised dark, wheat and Helles beers, as does the American-style Crew AleWerkstatt, which serves up tasty imperial stouts, IPAs and double IPAs. Fancy a craft beer at home? Just head to local shops including Szene Drink, which has an impressively varied selection of bottled craft beer from around the world.
Davina and Rony Utz both hail from ice-cream loving families. “It was a huge coincidence when we met,” says Davina. “Rony's family in Argentina had a dairy farm and his grandmother used to churn the ice cream by hand. My father and I would sit in the Aussie heat (I grew up in Brisbane) and polish off a litre of ice cream straight out of the tub with two spoons.” The two left their jobs to pursue their artisanal ice-cream dream back in 2014. They travelled, lived and worked across several continents and undertook ice cream-making courses in various parts of the world. Now, all the scoops in their bright, welcoming shop are made fresh each day, are based on their own individual recipes and use only high quality, natural ingredients sourced as locally as possible. Not only the two most fundamental elements – organic fresh milk and organic cream – but also strawberries, fresh herbs such as lemon and mint, and honey, which is purchased from local beekeepers. The pair still travel to Italy several times a year to brush up on recipes (not just ice cream) and seek out new ingredients – in Verona recently they discovered an area famous for its peaches, which resulted in their delicious Peach-Basil sorbet recipe, which is sold in summer when the peaches are in their prime.
Founded in January 2015, Hall of Taste, Munich’s leading street food event, was set up by Urs Jahn, who also founded the popular nocturnal flea market Midnight Bazar.
Following the success of similar trends in cities including London and Berlin, Jahn launched the concept at Mixed Munich Arts (MMA), a unique and multi-faceted space in the city, where it has garnered 100,000 visitors since it opened. Since May 2015, the Hall of Taste has been run in conjunction with the Midnight Bazar, with occasional pop-up versions at other interesting events and music and alternative nightlife venues including the Postpalast, Zenith, Kesselhaus and Backstage. Bringing together an ever- changing roll call of local vendors, the event spans a dizzying number of international fusion foods, from venison burgers and miso ramen to Vietnamese pho and paleo- friendly foods, most of which have a commitment to local and seasonal ingredients.
Jahn’s current vision is to find a permanent location for the Hall of Taste, or at least a place where it can happen each weekend, ideally alongside music, art, shopping and more.