Nuremberg gets all the international hoopla, but since I live in Munich I know all the ins- and outs- of Munich’s markets. There are many markets scattered throughout the city, but here’s a quick look at the main one, which dates back to 1642. This market has the traditional treats and a few hidden treasures, so here’s a list of my favorite stops:
Glühwein: Mulled wine is the most common drink at the Christmas Markets. This hot, mulled wine is usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, sugar and, sometimes, vanilla. It is sometimes drunk "mit Schuss" (with a shot), which means that rum or some other liquor has been added. Fruit wines, such as blueberry wine and cherry wine, are occasionally used instead of grape wine in some parts of Germany. There is also a variation of Glühwein which is made with white wine. It can be a challenge to find a good Glühwein – lots of vendors serve a pre-made Glühwein out of a box which is simply heated up – this is the one that will give you a headache which only cheap wine can muster. Look for a stand that offers “Hausgemacht” or “Selbstgemacht” – homemade or self-made. Not a guarantee of quality, but usually indicates a little more pride! Our favorite in Munich is located at the Kripperlmarkt across from the Augustiner Großgaststätte between Marien- and Karlsplatz.
Feuerzangenbowle: This is the next most popular drink and gets its popularity from a 1944 German film of the same name. Making this drink it all about the show – a cone of sugar is soaked in rum, set on fire, and then melted slowly into Glühwein. The favorite location in Munich to enjoy one is at Isartor, the eastern gate to the old city. Billed as the “World’s Largest,” the feuerzangenbowle is set up inside the gate and scenes from the original movie and projected on the walls. The copper kettle is 2.5 meters wide and 3.4 meters high and holds 9,000 liters! When a new sugar cone is lit on fire, it’s a major event! Pronounced “Foy-er Tsang-en Bow-luh
Eierlikör: Roughly like eggnog, it is combined with a variety of spirits to produce an ever changing variety of tastes. This is one of my favorites since it isn’t as sweet as Glühwein or Feuerzangenbowle. Again, our favorite location is the Punschstüberl on the way to Karlsplatz/Stachus.
Stachlbier: Finding a beer at the markets is a bit challenging. Since it’s usually cold outside at the markets, people usually want to be inside when enjoying a beer. However, the old tradition of superheating an iron and then inserting it into a bock beer has been recently reinstituted. The only place doing it at the Munich market is at Rindermarkt and is run by Spöckmaier. Unfortunately, they are only using dark bier, so it’s not as good as it could be. The best one is found down in Salzburg where they use the Bock from Augustiner zur Mülln. The higher sugar content of the bock means that carmelization occurs when the superheated iron is placed into the beer. Drink it quickly after the “poking,” When you do you’ll enjoy the cool outer beer with a warm carmel center – yummy!
Pfandrückgabe: The last thing you have to realize about drinking at the markets is that you will always be paying a deposit (Pfand) on the mug, cup or glass. Usually about € 3 Euro, you can either keep the souvenir cup or return it at the “Pfandrückgabe”for a full refund. If you are getting a refill, just hand them the used mug and the bendor wont charge you a second deposit.
Rahmschankerl: Translated as “cream snack,” this is a thin bread covered with a thick crème and then topped with ham and onions. Served up piping hot, this baby will fill you up quickly! The best one is located just off Marienplatz as you walk towards Rindermarkt - Sendlinger Tor
Reiberdatschi: These Potato Pancakes are cooked in an substantial amount of fat so you probably don’t want to eat this every day. But they taste so good! This stand is located just off Marienplatz in the direction of Karlsplatz/Stachus and there is always a pretty big line. Served with applesauce, it can be a little messy so plan on using one of the stand-up tables to enjoy this treat!
Wurst: There a million stands at the markets that serve a huge variety of sausages and meats. Our favorite offers all organic meat (Bio) and is located at the Kripperlmakrt between Marienplatz and Karlsplatz. My second favorite place is more about the view than the sausage specifically: There is a skating rink set up at Karlsplatz/Stachus where you can watch the skaters. On the upstairs level, there are two enclosed areas where you can enjoy your snack while protected from the wind.
Kokos – und Mohrenköpfe: There are sweet treats featuring a soft coconut cookie or a chocolate goody filled with a sticky whipped cream. If you want a sugar fix, this will get you there quick! This stand is located between Marienplatz and Karlsplatz/Stachus
Stollen: Famous in Dresden, this fruit cake features dried fruit and is covered with powdered sugar. The cake is usually made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices. There are also new variations of Stollen, and it isn’t overly sweet. Warmed a tad and accompanied with a Glühwein or Coffee, this treat can’t be beat. The best one is from Zum Stollen Franze, now located in the Weinstrasse just as you leave Marienplatz to the left of the Neues Rathaus in the direction of Odeonsplatz.
Kaiserschmarrn: The Emperor’s Foolishness was created by the Austrian Emperor’s chef to help fatten up Sissy, the famous Bavarian-born Empress. Basically a scrambled pancake, raisins and powdered sugar are combined and served up with apple sauce for a lightly sweet dish. This stand is located between Marienplatz and Karlsplatz/Stachus.
Kripperlmarkt: It’s a Bavarian tradition to invest in an elaborate nativity scene when you start a family. After attaining the basics, you add a little bit to it each Christmas. At Munich’s Kripperlmarkt near Karlsplatz/Stachus, you can see families shopping for their new items. If you want to see this taken to the level of art, plan an hour or two at the Bavarian National Museum on Prinzregentenstrasse. Here you can see historic nativities from all over Europe: http://www.bayerisches-nationalmuseum.de/index.php?id=287
Skating: Lots of people like to get out and do a little ice skating and Karlsplatz/Stachus is the place to do it in Munich. From 10:30 AM to 10:00 PM you can rent skates and hit the ice or just watch the skaters as you enjoy a drink and a snack. In the evening, it really is magical. http://www.muenchen.de/veranstaltungen/event/6539.html#panorama
Music: We always like to be at Marienplatz in front of the Neues rathaus at 5:30 PM for a short live concert. The singers change daily and it’s always worth a quick stop to listen.
Krampuslauf: This will give you nightmares! We in America thought it was bad if Santa left us a lump of coal in our stocking. Our Bavarian counterparts were threatened with beasts hauling them off to the mountains if they misbehaved! There is still a club that keep the tradition alive and they run through Marienplatz and Rindermarkt on Dec 14 at 3:00 PM and Dec 21 at 4:00 PM
Shopping: Of course there is a lot to buy at the markets – hats, gloves, ornaments, candles, glassware, etc. Personally, I’m not much for shopping, but I do love the stand in the Weinstrasse which sells candle lanterns with a Munich or Christmas theme: www.muenchner-licht.com
Other Markets: Our favorites place to meet our friends is in front of “Kaisers” Schlemmerpyramid” at the Rindermarkt – it’s a little off of Marieplatz and not as many tourists find their way there. And, they sell lots of types of food and have bottle beer – you can only drink so much Glühwein! Other great places include the market inside the Residenz, the Middle Ages Market just off Odeonsplatz, Chinese Tower, and Schwabing. Have a look at all the possibilities here: http://www.muenchen.de/veranstaltungen/events/weihnachtsmarkt-christkindlmarkt.html
If you can’t get to Munich this year, you can see the action at Marieplatz from these two webcams:
I hope this has whet your appetite to come over to Bavaria. If you do, I hope you’ll consider an unforgettable tour with us at BayernTrips!
Liebe Grüße aus München,
3. Dezember 2014