And Now for Something Completely Different

Walking out of our hotel this morning past the coach and horses and into a waiting Mercedes van felt great.  It’s sad that Andreas managed to spoil the end of the trip, but we had a good time in general and now we are on our way to the bright lights and big city.

The hour and ten minute drive into Munich flew by, and we checked into the Rocco Forte Charles Hotel, a great find by the Travel Goddess.  With all the bowing and scraping when we arrived, TG must have told them we were secret royalty.  Our rooms are splendid and the service is magnificent.

Dropping the luggage off, we headed to the Haus der Kunst, an art museum dedicated to travelling installations; it has no permanent collection of its own.  We saw an exhibition by Louise Burgeois, a French/American artist of immense talent who lived to be 99 and was producing great work until the end–her last piece, I Give Away Everything, was an unimaginable moving series of 6 panels in which she contemplates her imminent demise.

Much of her work consists of “cells”, free-standing work that includes enclosures, making each piece as much a place as a thing.  My favorite was Culprit #2, a prison-like atmostpher where the the accused sits in a chair staring into a mirror, facing his own behavior and countenance.

Culprit #2.

Culprit #2. Louise Burgeois

We took the audio tour, of course,  One of the best things we have learned from visiting many many museums is to always take the audio tour–it adds so much to your understanding of the exhibit.

Another thing we have learned is that museums almost always have an excellent cafeteria.  Not coincidentally, it was time for lumch.

Even the coffee and bread are works of art in the museum cafe

Even the coffee and bread are works of art in the museum cafe

An excellent plate of pasta swiftly demolished, we headed back to the hotel, where I promptly took a long nap.  This doing nothing is damn tiring.

Toby and Kate had a long discussion with the concierge about places and things, and that included dinner. We stuffed ourselves into a taxi and went to Brenner, a large, hip restaurant in the middle of the city.  Technology is improving everything, I thought the cab had no meter until I found out that it is built into the rear view mirror.

Excellent food awaited us.  Brenner is a very large place, with tables both inside and outside–although the outside are mostly for the bar and the coffere drinkers.  Inside, there is a huge display case with various pastries to tempt you for dessert, and an exhibition kitchen:

When the art of cooking becomes performance

When the art of cooking becomes performance

Kate and I began with the burrata:

Fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes and pesto on basil leaves

Fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes and pesto on basil leaves

This seems like it should be a great dish, but it just wasn’t burrata.  it was fresh mozzarella, which isn’t bad, but it isn’t burrata either–there was no ifusion of cream to make it magical.  Nonetheless, the tomatoes were bright, the pesto was first rate and I ate it all.  It just wasn’t what I ordered.

We had a starter of grilled avocado and cous cous.

Grilled avocado, aubergine, zucchini, peppers and cous cous

Grilled avocado, aubergine, zucchini, peppers and cous cous

Toby thinks people won’t eat eggplant because of the name, and prefers the french title,  aubergine.  I think it’s because eggplant is gooshy and slimy. Still, I was persuaded to try a bit of it grilled, not whatever mother did to it, and it was almost edible.  Much better than mushrooms in any event.

I had a dish of linguini and scampi for my main course:

linguini and scampi with white and green asparagus

Linguini and scampi with white and green asparagus

We can get asparagus 350 days a year in the local grocery, they seem to be rare and seasonal here, but this is the season and every menu has a special “spargel” section.  There is a great preference for the white variety, which we rarely see in the states.  My dinner was first rate, but nothing I would consider special.  White asparagus don’t seem to have much texture, so I’m not all that fond of them; I’ll take the green ones anyday.

Another cultural difference to note;  see the shrimp, all cut into pieces?  Every restaurant in the US would serve them whole to accentuate how large and tasty there are.  Nothing wrong with this way, I just like to notice differences.

Dessert was perfect for me: a cup with a scoop of hazelnut ice cream and a shot of Baileys.  it comes with an espresso, but i gave that away.

Ice cream and Baileys, the perfect pairing

Ice cream and Baileys, the perfect pairing

All in all, an excellent meal.  Service is slower than we are accustomed to, but that’s just the European way–meals are to be enjoyed with time and conversation.  Prices are a little lower than they would be in San Francisco for a comparable meal, thanks to a strong dollar.

Tomorrow, a special excursion.  You won’t want to miss it.

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