Andechs Abbey, Dießen and Herrsching in Southern Bavaria, Germany

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Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on April 22, 2015 and updated on April 2, 2019.

Seems the theme of this spring’s outings have been waterfront-related. A few weeks before my trip to Chiemsee, we visited the famous Andechs Abbey, situated between two lakes just about an hour southwest of Munich by car.

The abbey is occupied now by Benedictine monks, but it started out about a thousand years ago as a castle for the Andechs-Meranian family. Apparently a certain Count Rosso, progenitor of the that family, brought back pieces of Jesus’ crown of thorns, cross and other artifacts from the Holy Land.

Although the original castle and chapel have been destroyed and the church rebuilt a couple of times, the relic treasure resides at the church today. The church and monastery stand on top the high hill known as the Holy Mountain, tended by the Benedictines. The church is the oldest pilgrimage destination in Bavaria, which means devotees make an annual pilgrimage through the countryside on foot here on a certain date each year.

The Holy Mountain lies between two lakes, Ammersee and Starnbergersee. It was in the Starnbergersee that King Ludwig II was drowned – he was the one who built Herrenchiemsee that I blogged about last week.

My husband and I have had the famous Andechser beer in Munich on a few occasions, and we’d been wanting to visit the monastery for some time now. The traveling options were threefold: bus tour, driving by car, or a trip by public transport train to a station about three kilometers (almost two miles) from which we’d have to hike a trail uphill to the monastery.

The bus tour didn’t appeal and driving was iffy because, well, beer. We were mentally preparing ourselves for that three-kilometer hike, but then we mentioned the trip to our good friends Christiane and Dean. You’ll remember Christiane as the one who taught me how to make Spätzle. To our delight, Christiane offered to drive, so we all set out on a road trip one Saturday.

The advantage of having a local show you around is that you get to see places you don’t know about. Since Christiane is from the area, she took us to the little town of Dießen on the Ammersee before we visited Andechs. Her family used to visit there every summer when she was a child.

First stop was this extraordinarily beautiful church, Marienmünster, a baroque marvel dating from the 1700s.

We moved onto a little district near the water with charming little cafes and fishmongers:


Then we visited a waterside rec area:

You could see Andechs on the Holy Mountain across the water from here. Although we were temped to spend all day in Dießen, we tore ourselves away and drove to the abbey.

It was quite the tourist area, with a large parking lot with bus parking. We walked the short distance uphill from the car, passing the requisite beer garden and other curiosities on the way.

 

We reached the top of the hill and found the very crowded, official Andechs watering hole. We stopped there for much-needed refreshment:

That tall Australian in the gray hat is Dean. Notice our view!

Presently we made our way up the hill to the abbey church:

I love the sundials painted on buildings in Europe:

Andechs Abbey was much smaller than Marienmünster, but possibly more ornate. There was a choir practicing in the loft. This was Palm Sunday weekend, so all the holy things were draped in purple in observance of Lent.

Here’s the view from atop the Holy Mountain:
And here’s the trail we would have travelled to come to the abbey had we taken Option 3 I mentioned earlier (an almost-two-mile hike from a train station):
I think we made the right choice!
After perusing the Holy Mountain, it was time to be on our way. Again, Christiane came through with her local knowledge and took us to another little lakeside village called Herrsching. Since we still had some of that beautiful sunshine left, we strolled the waterside and sat in the golden light for a while, watching the people enjoy the nice weather.
 There was a little castle there which you could rent for parties or weddings, I think.

As the sun sank, so did the temperatures. Christiane and I fled into the Seehof restaurant you see here (also my future hotel, if I get my wish)…
…while the guys toughed it out by the water to finish their drinks before joining us.

The meal was delicious. For dessert we had one of my favorite specialties, Kaiserschmarrn, a kind of chopped pancake with raisins, eaten with apple sauce or vanilla sauce. This place served it flambe’ style! (Yes, the table cloth is on fire, too.)

After dinner we had to make our way back home, tired but happy. It was a great outing on a wonderful day with good friends. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

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Denver’s German Oktoberfest Beer Party

Well, you know me, always up for an Oktoberfest! This time I found it in Denver, Colorado – who knew? Since I’ve been to the real one in Munich several times, I have lots of past blog posts about it. For example, the opening procession and the Big O-Fest itself.

I have to congratulate myself on NOT casting aspersions on the American versions of Oktoberfest, too – it’s never as big and never the same, but I know they’re trying. (Sorry, that was kind of an aspersion, wasn’t it?)

Anyway, Colorado has a couple dozen Oktoberfests of varying sizes and locations. I’ve seen listings for at least two in Denver. But this one’s website said “Since 1969” and seemed to be the one referred to most often in online articles I read. So, I donned my Oktoberfest garb, including t-shirt that looks like a Dirndl and authentic fest hat, and headed downtown last weekend to check out Denver’s interpretation. It occurs on two consecutive weekends in September – you DO remember I’ve told you that Munich’s Oktoberfest starts in September and ends on the first weekend in October, right?  in the Ballpark neighborhood, which surrounds Coors Field baseball stadium (Go, Rockies!).

Denver’s ‘Fest is held in the Ballpark neighborhood, which surrounds Coors Field baseball stadium (Go, Rockies!). First thing I saw was a big crowd gathered around a small race course. That would be the Long Dog Derby, a dachsund dog race!

The big steel girders and brick walls in the background belong to Coors Field. And the green Spaten tent, though an American-style tent, was serving up real German Spaten beer from Munich. Spaten means “spade” in German – hence the shovel logo.

Although I couldn’t get close to the dog race track to even see the pups, much less take any photos, I bring you a gallery of Dachsunds that pervaded the entire day. Look for the Dachsund wine next to a real dachsund – it’s a Riesling that comes from the Mosel valley in Germany.

And here are some street scenes from the approximately-four-square-blocks of fest:

A beer ticket cost $6 each, four for $20. You could buy the commemorative “stein” for $25, or for $30 they’d throw in two beer tickets. There were VIP tickets available, too, which cost $100 or more, depending on which day you were there. Those entitled you to unlimited beer and food in the VIP area, which looked kinda like a playpen in the midst of all this:

Love the bouncer at the gate! But you could wander in and out as you pleased if you had the VIP ticket, and I’m sure it was a benefit later when the crowds showed up and the bands were playing on the several stages:

By the way, the word Stein in German means “stone”, and I’ve never heard a German refer to this or any other glass as a Stein. In Bavaria they are called a Maβ, which means “measure” and really means the glass holds one liter (1.06 quarts) of liquid. The stoneware ones are called Krug, which is closer to meaning “mug”, though it can mean other stuff like “pitcher”.

And, just for the record, I compared the Denver Oktoberfest glass with one I got in Munich, which is much heavier:

I filled the Denver glass to the rim (with water!) and poured it into the German one. It filled the German glass to the line you see just above the handle where the circle pattern ends. And that, interestingly, is just where the Germans fill the beer to – the rest of the head space is for the foam. If the beer in Germany doesn’t have foam, it is assumed the beer is flat and not fresh. At Denver’s fest, FYI, they filled the glass to the top of the logo, more or less.

More scenes:

The building in the background on the corner with the tower and spire is a dive bar called Herb’s. It’s been around since the 30’s. (In researching this building, I learned you don’t want to Google “Herbs in Denver”!)

These guys had the Lederhosen right, but not the hats, shoes or socks:

From inside the “beer tent”:

In Germany the beer tent is humongous and houses not only tables but also the beer sales counter and stage. Plus it’s enclosed on all sides. Here there were two open tents which were more like public tables to eat the sausage-centric fare available. Look for my brat on a hotdog bun with saurkraut in this gallery – it was really good!

Something I’ve never seen in Germany: Turkey legs!

Nor will you see Rice Krispie treats:

They served real Munich Franziskaner Weissbier (wheat beer):

And my absolute favorite, candied almonds (Gebrannte Mandeln):

These were delicious, though not quite the same as the German ones. These had decidedly more buttery flavor, salt and vanilla, but they were just as addictive!

We interrupt this blog post for a commercial announcement! You may have noticed I’ve been monetizing the blog lately – hosting costs have just gone too high not to. So, I joined a couple of affiliate programs, including Amazon Associates. With that, if someone (you!) clicks an ad on my site and ends up buying the Amazon (or other) product, I get a little cut. I will try to keep the ad content relevant to my blog, keep the ads about things I would and do use myself, and also keep those annoying popup ads off the site. And I won’t always interrupt the text with ads, either – you’ll mainly see them on the sidebar and below the posts. For this first time, I’d like to recommend some inexpensive cooking items I’ve bought from Amazon lately and highly recommend, especially those magnetic hooks and the Kitchenaid attachment. If you click here and end up buying them, I thank you for the help in maintaining this website and blog!

Back to Oktoberfest:

I also had a pretzel – required – but it wasn’t very good, actually. A little too doughy or dry or something. But I gave them a pass because I’ve tried baking bread here and it’s hard to get right because of the altitude. Click here for my tutorial on how to make real German pretzels in sane places, like closer to sea level.

There were also games, like keg bowling (not found in Germany):

And the seemingly-ever-present-in-Colorado “cornhole”, which I grew up calling “beanbag”. I don’t know why they are so attached to this game here, but you see it everywhere! This one was an enhanced version with multiple holes and a point system.

I truly enjoyed my visit to Denver’s Oktoberfest. The people were friendly, as always, the weather was fine and the food and beer were great. I’m looking forward to next year already!

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Radi, the German Radish They Eat with Beer

In honor of Oktoberfest in Munich – um, let’s take a moment here before I go on. Oktoberfest, despite its name, starts in mid-September every year. It ends on the first weekend of October. Yes, it used to take place in October, but a couple a hundred years ago it was moved up to avoid the bad weather that may occur later in the season. This year, Oktoberfest started on September 19. It ends on October 4.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll start again. In honor of Oktoberfest, I want to tell you about a snack that is served in the beer tents in Germany, along with the brew and pretzels. It’s called Radi, a spiral-cut radish that is sprinkled with salt and maybe chives, and eaten with the fingers as the beer is quaffed. I can’t tell you how great this snack tastes with German beer!

The type of radish served is one that is known as the Munich Beer Radish and which grows in and around those parts where the good beer flows. However, that particular radish species is pretty scarce in the USA. So you can use a daikon radish or any firm, long, white radish. Sometimes they are called winter radishes. I didn’t have access to a real Munich Beer Radish, so I opted for the daikon, which is the closest thing I could find here in Florida.

If you’re into that kind of thing, you can buy heirloom Munich Beer Radish seeds at many online places. If you click here you can see a picture of the real deal and buy the seeds as well.

Technically, you can spiral cut radishes by hand, as shown on this YouTube video. But what fun is that? In the beer tents, the radish is cut on a contraption that is made for the sole purpose of spiral-cutting radishes. Like so:

However, again, I didn’t have that luxury. I did almost buy one of these last year, but they run about 85 Euros ($95 at the time of this writing). I went instead for a spiralizer that I can use for many different kinds of veggies.

So I peeled my daikon and cut it using the straight blade of the spiralizer. There are two drawbacks to using my machine instead of the dedicated spiral cutter. First, the slices on my spiralizer come out thicker, so they aren’t as crispy as the thin-cut spirals. The second is that the core of the radish is not cut, but rather comes out in a long stick:
I also tried an apple peeler/corer machine someone gave me recently:

But the result was worse, with thicker slices and an even larger uncut core. You can see the apple machine result on the left and the spiralizer result on the right in this photo:
So I continued spiralizing my daikons until I got an attractive mound. And in German style, I sprinkled them liberally with salt and chopped chives. Here’s a picture from the Web of the real deal Radi served in Germany. You can see the thinner slices and how the spirals have almost no core missing:

 

The Radi are served with beer, of course, and German pretzels. By the way, if you want to make authentic German pretzels, you can find the recipe in my German cookbook.

Don’t let Oktoberfest pass without trying this crispy, and healthy, snack. It’s raw vegan and gluten-free, too!

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