Spring 2005. OK, a Bavarian was voted the new Pope. But rather than driving to Rome and receive our blessings, my wife Renate
and I preferred to invite the “Pope of Peppers” and bring him to Bavaria, complete with “Popesse” Mary Jane. After picking up our
friends at the Franz Joseph Strauss Airport, we brought them to Munich right away to tour this great city. Nevermind the jet lag.
You did great, guys!
Since I took the photos on DD’ & MJ’s visit (does that make me a pepperazzo?), I also commented on them, so our guests from
Albuquerque, New Mexico could just relax. Here’s a note from Dave:
Harald and Renate were great hosts on our whirlwind tour of southern Germany plus a taste of Austria and Switzerland. They
showed us more that we ever imagined! I have never had such great beer–every one seemed better than the previous one.
Interestingly, the food was hearty people’s food with lots of fruit and vegetables and great pork. I loved the pig leg I tried.
We’ll definitely go back for the food, the beer, the great company, and that missed zeppelin ride!
Munich is of course Bavaria’s capital, and in my humble opinon our country’s most beautiful city. Inevitable for DD & MJ was a “tour
de monuments”, like Munich city hall (that’s Rathaus, not rat house!), and Frauenkirche. Bavarians nicknamed this style of church
towers Zwiebelturm (onion tower).
No Munich trip would be complete without a visit to famous Hofbräuhaus, especially for visitors from abroad. “Restaurant” is an
understatemant – this place is h-u-g-e, and Blasmusik bands are playing all day and at night. The favorite drink of course is made
from hops and barley, and as Dave will find out during this trip, he’ll learn a lot about the Bavarian’s “liquid lunch”, and sample
quite a few brews, and get to know a key ingredient. So there was no alternative for Dave to give that No-Beer Diet a break 😉
The HB Brewery Tour
My wife Renate and I run the Pepperworld Hot Shop, and we’re blessed to have so many interesting customers. One of them
is Christian, who happens to be Braumeister the the Hofbräu Brauerei, the brewery that makes the famous beer. Of course
he knew who Dave is (he even owns a copy of Dave’s DVD), and when I asked him whether he’d give us a brewery tour,
he did not hesitate a second. Christian humbly mentioned that HB is the smallest of the Munich breweries. Hard to believe
when touring the facility. Check out the giant tanks. 23 fermentation tanks (top right) have a capacity of 65,200 liter each
(about 16,000 gallons), 28 more tanks hold 97,800 liter (24,000 gals) and each of four x-large tanks store 168,000 liter
(42,000 gals) beer in the making. The water used for brewing HB beer is drawn from their own well, approximately 492 feet
beneath surface. That way, water is protected from any kind of environmental influences.
The whole facility is computer-controlled, but still the skills of an experienced brewmaster like Christian are vital to crank out
a great beer.
And what a great beer this is – Christian was kind enough to draw samples for Dave and me. We were in beer heaven! Besides
blonde and dark beer, Hofbräu also makes an excellent wheat beer (Weißbier). We even got a taste of unfiltered beer – quite a treat.
The picture top left shows the keg filling facility – most kegs go straight to regional restaurants.
According to recent news reports, beer consumption is constantly declining in Germany. The piles of beer crates are telling a
different story. The stuff in the background is beer crates, too! Thanks to Christian for the truly interesting tour.
From Beer Heaven to Chocoholics Paradise
Next was a visit to famous Viktualienmarkt, where 140 vendors sell exotic food items from all over the world, including a large
selection of chile peppers. We dedicated this marvelous market its own story, to be found here.
Since Christian is a chilehead, he also had a tip for us – when going to the Viktualienmarkt, he said, we should look for a small
store nearby called Sama-Sama. This place is well-known to sweet-teeth for their custom-made chocolate creations, including a
chile-chocolate treat named Venus Nipples…
So we went there. Owner Wilhelmine Raabe (top left pic) and her husband (left pic below) run this unusual place that sells plants,
fruits and an incredibly creative selection of chocolate goodies, each a little piece of art by itself, all created on location by the owner .
So here’s Dave nibbling on a Venus Nipple! Excellent biterweet chocolate, spiced up with a bit of chile pepper heat, and topped
with a nipple of white chocolate. Of course Dave and Mary Jane purchased a bag to take home. Would that be legal in the U.S.?
Janet Jackson and her famous “incident” come to my mind, which almost caused a national crisis 😉
Tip Tow through the City
After an exhausting but interesting day of munching, drinking and sightseeing, it was time to head back to the parking
garage and drive to Holzkirchen. We planned to stay a night at the village south of Munich where Renate and I lived
for almost ten years. To make the drive through the city a bit more exciting for our guests, we rode on the back of
a tow truck. After hearing strange noises from the left front wheel, we decided to call the service. It turned out we almost
lost a wheel which had not been fastened correctly by the garage where we got summer tires just a few days ago.
So Dave and I rode piggy-back, while Mary Jane and Renate shared front seats in the tow truck. Whatta ride.
Guess we were lucky this didn’t happen on the Autobahn!
After a quick stop at the service station in Munich, we went on to Holzkirchen, about 20 miles south of Munich.
We stayed there at Hotel Alte Post, a place where Renate and I went for lunch or dinner many times. Great
typical Upper Bavarian food, very nice rooms, and a terrific breakfast buffet. It was good that after 20 years
that we have known this family-owned place, it still keeps its personal touch and friendly service.
We went on to Kirchsee, a beautiful lake just 10 minutes from Holzkirchen. Renate and I spent countless
weekends here when we lived nearby, so we had to show this to our friends. In the background, that’s
Kloster Reutberg, a monastery that used to brew a quite tasty beer, now made by a local brewery, but
still as tasty. We bought a couple of bottles to take home.
While on the subject of monks brewing beer…
On our way from Munich to Lake Constance where Renate and I live now, we stopped by Andechs,
famous for its Monastery. Located on the “Holy Mountain” above the eastern shore of Lake Ammersee
in the middle of Upper Bavaria’s Five-Lakes Region, Andechs Monastery is visible from far away. For
more than half a millennium it has been a cherished destination for pilgrims.
When entering the monastery grounds from the giant parking lot, the gate made of wood and Masskrüge (1 liter glass
beer mugs) is a dead giveaway that this place is about brewskys, too. And indeed, today, many pilgrims come for a special
treat of this famous place: beer and food. Like many monasteries, this one brews and serves its own beer, and it makes a
phantastic variety of tasty cheeses. The self-serve kitchen also has a grill, and on a busy afternoon, they can hardly keep up
getting those Hax’n out, grilled pig leg with a crunchy crust. Typical side dish, often main snack is a Brez’n, a fresh-baked pretzel,
Bavaria’s signature bakery item. Nowhere on this planet, can you get better pretzels than in Bavaria.
After a hearty snack of strong dark Andechs beer, various meats and cheeses, bread and pretzels, it was time to get our guests to
Kressbronn, the village Renate and I call home.
Kressbronn at the Bodensee (Lake Constance)
From a hill nearby, you can tell that Kressbronn is located right at Lake Constance (called Bodensee in German). Even in early May, the larger
Swiss and Austrian mountains across the lake are still covered with snow (right picture). In the foreground of the left photo, you’ll notice wine plants.
Some popular grape varieties, including Müller-Thurgau and Spätburgunder, grow well in the mild southern German lake climate and make great
wines, some of them even won prestigious awards. Hof Milz, a remodeled historic farmhouse complex, has a nice wine cellar with wine aging
in oak barrels.
The Lake Constance area is also one of the biggest fruit-growing areas in Europe, and besides wine from grapes, a tasty alcoholic apple cider
called Most is quite a popular beverage here. Almost every farmer makes his own Most, and many distill Obstler, a hard liquor made from
apples and/or pears.
One of the many attractions of Kressbronn is Germany’s oldest and longest cable bridge (top center photo). Built across the Argen river in
1897, it is 72 meters long. A model of this bridge got a lot of attention at the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris. It is said that the construction
plans for the bridge found their way to the USA and served as a model for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Gohren, also part of
Kressbronn, is home to the biggest yacht harbor at the lake.
Enough tourist talk. Let’s watch Dave working hard for his and MJ’s stay at the Zoschke house.
Since we were way behind with our 100+ varieties of chile pepper plants, Dave gave Renate a hand transplanting the seedlings
to small pots. Then Dave transferred the plants to Harald’s newly built greenhouse, where he took good care of the plants
during their stay. How much better can it get than having the Pope of Peppers taking care of your chile plants!
Here’s the Pope of Potatoes helping out in the kitchen. The spuds went right on Harald’s water smoker, together with ribs
rubbed with a generous helping of Dr. BBQ’s Bonesmoker Pepper Blend. Four hours and a couple of beers later, our hard
work was rewarded by tender, tasty ribs.
Dave and Mary Jane also got the opportunity to check out other kitchens, like this one at the house of our friends Heinz and
Adelinde. The couple cooked a regional specialty for them, called Kässpätzle. That’s home-made pasta, layered with shredded
cheese and covered with fried onion rings, served with potato salad on the side. Yum!
The New Mexicans arrived just in time to witness the annual erection of the maypole, the century-old custom of bringing up a
wooden pole with icons of all crafts and professions offered in town. In former times, a group of young men did this by hand
but these days, a crane is used But the actual assembly of the pole is still accomplished by local craftsmen in their historic outfit.
In the night before its erection, the maypole is heavily guarded so that it is not stolen by another village community – also an
age-old custom! A stolen maypole can be retrieved by offering the thieves a generous ration of beer and food.
The Kressbronn Maypole didn’t get stolen, so it got erected under the applause of hundreds of viewers,
celebrating this event with a mug of most or a bottle of beer.
Speaking of Beer…
With its 7,700 inhabitants, Kressbronn may be small, yet it has its own little brewery, named Max & Moritz Brauerei.
Do I have to mention that Dave and I just had to stop by for a sample?
Tettnang, Hops Museum
If you’re familar with any of the beers shown above, you most likely have consumed hops grown and processed
around Tettnang, a small town near Kressbronn. Growing hops has been big business in Tettnang for more than
150 years, and there’s even a museum dedicated to this crucial beer ingredient. Knowing that Dave likes beer as much
as I do, we paid the Tettnanger Hopfenmuseum a visit.
No beer can do without hops, Hopfen in German. It is a climbing plant that grows as fast as 30 cm a day, and growing
controlled through Hopfenstangen, giant poles with wire (top left and center photos). The plant goes by the Latin name
Humulus lupulus (“wolf of the woods”) and it is, uhm, distantly related to the cannabis plant.
Hops plants are dioecious, i. e. the males and females flower on separate plants. Only the females bear the hop cones
required in the brewing process (top right pic). By the way, some good hops info can be found here.
The museum does a great job explaining the botanics of the hop plant, as well as growing, havesting and processing
hops back then and today. Various scenes are rebuilt quite realistically, and viewers in a hops-shaped case give
3D impressions of hops on the fields.
The museum includes a complete autmated hops processing plant that is actually in use every year after harvest. The
resulting product is hops pellets shipped all over the world in bags like shown above, including to the U.S., where this
unique ingredient is used to brew beers like the ones on display further up this page.
Isle of Mainau, Lake Constance
No trip to Lake Constance would be complete without a boat trip to Mainau, the phantastic island in the lower part of the lake,
close to the city of Constance (Konstanz). Already in the early 19th century, Hungarian Prince Esterhazy designed the present-
day courtyard and planted precious exotic and domestic flowers. In 1853, Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden acquired the
island as a summer residence. He extended the tree population, created the arboretum and designed the rose garden. He also
introduced citrus and palm trees to Mainau. Now Mainau Island is owned by the late Swedish Lord Bernadotte’s and has
been run by the Lennart-Bernadotte foundation since the 1970s. Hundreds of employees create breathtaking displays during the
flowering season from April until September. Activities even around Christmas season and the Easter holidays make Mainau a year-
round attraction. Renate and I just enjoy returning to Mainau at least twice a year.
Approaching the isle with a ferryboat gives a glimpse that this place is all about vegetation. Getting closer reveals the castle residence
and Palmenhaus right next to it. Besides orchids and all sorts of exotic plants, inside the giant greenhouse some huge and rare palm
trees can be found that would leave Florida residents green with envy. As Mary Jane will attest, the Palmenhaus also hosts
a very nice café with delicious cakes.
The most breathtaking views though are offered by the tastefully designed flower bed arrangements spread all over the island. Early May,
tulips were still in season, and even in Holland I’ve never seen so many unusual and pretty varieties. In the upcoming months,
roses und fuchsia will take over, no less impressive, and the fall season will be greeted by a color flash of dalias.
As you can tell, even Dave and Mary Jane are getting romantic on this unbelievably beautiful island.
Quite a special attraction on the Isle of Mainau is the Schmetterlingshaus, the butterfly house. This is a greenhouse with constant
tropical temperature and humidity levels as well as tropical vegetation, complete with a waterfall, bridges and lagoons. More than
25 exotic varieties of butterflies roam freely here, and may even make a quick stopover on your head. With a little luck, you can watch
them emerge from their cocoons.
Outside, all sorts of fun displays blend right in with nature. This little report could only scratch the surface of impressions
our Mainau trip had to offer.
What’s so unique about lake Constance is that three countries are sharing borders here – Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
So one day, the four of us had breakfast in Kressbronn, Germany. Then we took our Sunbelters for lunch to Bregenz,
Austria. This charming town right on the lake is host to the reknowned Bregenzer Festspiele, held on a spectacular stage built
right into the lake Constance shore. This year’s main act is the Troubadur opera by Guiseppe Verdi, presented within the
rather unusual set of an oil rig. The props were still under construction when we showed DD & MJ the stage.
For dinner we went on to Rohrschach, Switzerland, just across the lake from Kressbronn. A visit to Switzerland would be
incomplete without eating the national Swiss dish, Rösti. This is sort of a potato pancake, typically made from spuds cooked
the day before. The cooked potatoes are sliced and baked with various ingredients, most typically with swiss cheeses and bacon.
While potatoes, cheeses and bacon are basic for this dish, we discovered a place in Rohrschach named Speiserestaurant
Kornhausstube that specializes in Rösti, and has no less than 32 different varieties on the menu! Choices include
exotics like “Rösti Hawaii” with cheese, cured ham and pineapple, or “Winzer (=winemaker) Rösti” cooked with white wine,
as well as the three pictured below, with cheese & egg sunny side up, careaway seed cheese & bacon, and – believe it or not! –
Rösti Picante with green chiles.
Dave of course went for the Rösti Picante, potatoes smothered in melted cheese, spiced up with pickled
green tabasco-like chiles. Dave ate the whole thing and raved about it.
Our guests couldn’t believe that Swiss people would eat Rösti even for breakfast. Hey guys, you New
Mexicans even have green chile stew and eggs with red chile sauce in the morning 🙂
Before heading back to Germany, Dave & Mary Jane loaded up on Swiss chocolate.
Same day we went home to Kressbronn for a late drink. Three countries in one day. No sweat.
Unless you have those Rösti Picante, that is.
All the Fun and….
If all of this sounds like fun, I guess it was, but we got some serious work done, too. Some parts of this Web
site will see a major redesign over the next six months or so. The first result is the remodeled Main Home Page:
The page got cleaned up and now shows frequently updated news, edited by Dave, also available as an
RSS Feed. Stay tuned for additional exciting new Supersite features!
A common sight around the lake are zeppelins, and that’s no wonder. The airship was invented here, in Friedrichshafen
at Lake Constance. Transatlantic zeppelin flights were quite common in the 1920’s and 30’s, and did you know that the
pole on top of the NYC Empire State Building was designed as a zeppelin anchor point? Zeppelin travel came to an
end when ship L129, the legendary Hindenburg, exploded in 1937. These days, those airships are much safer, and we
are seeing a revival, with new, high-tech versions being built, still here in Friedrichshafen, 15 minutes driving from
Kressbronn. Breathtaking zeppelin lake roundtrips can be booked here, and Friedrichshafen has a very interesting
Zeppelin Museum. We ran out of time to take Dave and Mary Jane to the museum, so you guys have to come back 🙂