Staying in Munich for four days, I did day-time outings to what are regarded food temples of the city, including Dallmayr, Kaiser, and the Viktualienmarkt. Most impressed, others were disappointing.I certainly fell in love with tomatoes on my trip, and the rich red shiny stemmed tomatoes attracted not only my attention, but also that of my Facebook followers. I do not recall having seen such fresh looking and smelling tomatoes anywhere in our country. What was an even bigger surprise was the very reasonable prices of foods in the local supermarket chains, on a par or even cheaper with those in our country, even when translated into Rand at an exchange rate of R14 to the €uro.
Bakeries are on every street corner, and rolls are available in every shape and size and seeded topping, so that one only buys one’s daily requirement, and buys them fresh every day. My favorite is poppy seed rolls, and the German ones have seeds underneath too. Nothing beats a German baked poppy seed roll, those from EuroHaus in Cape Town not comparing at all!
Cakes are stocked at the bakeries too, and fruit tarts dominate, with strawberry slices and mixed berry slices being the most common, eaten with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Smarter shops had apple slices, Sacher Torte, and Apfelstrudel. My daily treat was to enjoy a slice of cake and an iced coffee, usually made in the same way, with espresso, a ball of ice cream, and topped with cream.
I chose Dallmayr first, having heard about it most often, an institution in Munich. It has modern window displays, focused on food items such as cheese, bread, and cake, quite unlike its very old-fashioned ‘interior design’. Dallmayr was founded by Alois Dallmayr in the 17th century, and is regarded as being on a par with Fauchon in Paris, and Fortnum and Mason in London. It receives about 2,5 million visitors every year, records Wikipedia. The staff are dressed in very old-fashioned dress, to give the old-world feel. The company has a well-known coffee brand which is sold in supermarkets, and it has a Michelin-star restaurant linked to it too.
One enters at the wine department, and specialist sections follow, at each of which one has to pay separately, annoying in having to shell out bits of cash, rather than paying for everything by credit card. I asked about South African wines, and was shown a small selection of De Trafford, Rijk’s, and surprisingly Babylonstoren! That was it! There is a chocolate section, a cake section (that which is served in the Bistro upstairs is poor relative to the lovely cakes downstairs), and one for select teas. Much more exciting is the open Deli section, where one can buy cold meats, the finest cheeses, traditional salads, salmon, crayfish, and fresh fruit and vegetables. Given its reputation, it is expensive. My iced coffee and cake monitor was €11, nothing exciting at all. Service is rude, and I quickly found that the German Germans were generally friendly, but the ‘imported’ ones very abrupt and unhelpful. There is no Wifi, I was told abruptly by my waiter, while a kinder colleague directed me to the Apple Store not far away, where one can receive wifi for free outside the store, as I needed it to book Uber.
Feinkost Käfer was my next destination, in the noble suburb Bogenhausen, which seemed smaller than Dallmayr, but far more modern, and its interior design was very tasteful. I loved the light fitting made of coffee pots and milk jugs in the chocolate and cake department! There are also different nooks and crannies, on half levels, and even a section for color co-ordinated houseware, very attractively displayed. They do not charge for one’s individual selection, and one pays for everything as one leaves. They have similar items to those stocked by Dallmayr, and my coffee-and-cake index was on a par with Dallmayr, at €11, but was of a far better quality! The South African wine offer was larger, and I saw Cederberg, Southern Right, Buitenverwachting, Meerlust, Porcupine Ridge, and Kanonkop. The wine merchandising in this store was unbelievable, with a large space allocated to it, and separate sections for champagnes in particular, and one exclusively for Dom Perignon. The cheese section had red cow bells hanging overhead! The store was established in the ‘Seventies, and its design is clearly updated regularly. It offers large-scale catering for events, such as the Oktoberfest. No wifi is available to patrons.
A visit to the Viktualienmarkt was disappointing. I had expected a market hall with the freshest wares, but found an outside cobble-stone area with stand-alone stalls, its design and produce not reflecting the stylishness of the city. A large commercialized Nordsee outlet sells fish to take home, or prepared, and there is a typical Bavarian restaurant too. A central area has tables and chairs, at which can sit down to enjoy the foods of the market.
My final port of call was the Bayerischer Hof hotel, one of the finest and most expensive in Munich, where one is likely to find an international VIP or German TV personality such as Thomas Gottschalk stay. One can only enjoy afternoon tea in a very dark lounge area, and service is very slow and arrogant, I found. The cake offering was very restricted, being a selection of three different strawberry treats: a tartlet, tart, or trifle, and here the affordability Index reached its peak at €13,30! Feedback about the offish service to the HR manager who was in the same room coincidentally led to a plate of six cookies arriving at the table, and a very much more friendly waitress thereafter!
Munich impressed me with its quality of its food to be bought at chain supermarkets, and at such reasonable prices, reflecting the power of competition in part, the weaker €uro, and the almost non-existent inflation rate! Every possible luxury food item is available at Dallmayr and Kiefer, if that is what one would like to eat!
Dallmayr, Diener-Straße 14-15, Munich. www.dallmayr.com
Feinkost Käfer, Prinzregenten-Straße, Munich. www.feinkost-käfer.de
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio. Cell 0825511323. www.whalecottage.com. Twitter: @WhaleCottage