Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mürren: A Swiss Slice of Paradise

My first visit to Mürren, Switzerland was in 2002. I was keen to enjoy some authentic Alpine scenery, and had read about this little village that was perched high atop a cliff in the Jungrau Region of Switzerland's Berner Oberland canton. Well...I fell in love with the place. I was back in 2003, and again in 2004 and again...

Now, in late July of 2008, I'm preparing to return to what has become something of a second home. I keep in touch with a few of the residents of Mürren via e-mail during the winter months (er, September to May!), anticipating a happy reunion with this beautiful hamlet. This year's trip is the latest visit for me in the calendar year - I arrive in Mürren on July 31 and stay until August 9th. I'm looking forward to renewing friendships with Denise the B&B manager, Tham and Ruth at the restaurant, Barbara at the train station, and Jeannette, the erstwhile tour guide. Then there are folks at the various dairies, shops and other parts of the village to say Hi to once again. Cablecars to ride. Cats to pat. Paths to walk. Water to drink. Future entries in this blog will focus on some of the highlights of my visit to Switzerland, plus my return to the beergardens of Munich.
NEXT: More from Mürren from Mooncattie, the Happy Wanderer!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

rrrrrAISE Your Glasses!!

Ready for a taste of summertime? Ahhh...sweet, sweet beer! The liquid that sets us apart and above all those other lifeforms in the galaxy. You can keep your ray guns, Green Guts -- we've got beer here.

Yes, Mooncattie, but beer can be found practically everywhere on this planet! How can we tell the good from the bleh?

Fortunately, thanks to the advent of internet search engines, it's easier than ever to experience a satisfying Beergasm. All you have to do is look, and experiment. And if you are especially fond of low-carb Lite beer, you're in luck. There's plenty of it out there!

For me, the hunt for the elusive B-Spot ended on a steamy May afternoon in Bavaria, Germany in 2000, long before I had access to those handy internet search engines. In short, I got lucky. In Munich. At the Augustiner Keller beergarden. A lifetime of wincing back preservative-laden beer product was washed away by a liter of fresh Augustiner Edelstoff, and the knowledge that there were at least six breweries in Munich alone that had been pouring out this sort of high-quality stuff from barrels for centuries - in the case of Augustiner, since 1328!! Although the No. 17 Tram stop outside the beergarden is a relatively recent addition.

It was a revelation to find this terrific beergarden, and further delights awaited over subsequent visits to Munich with the discovery of more wonderful places to relax with a brew or two. If by now you are wondering why you haven't yet booked a holiday to Germany, allow me to point you towards a great website at for further incentives. You can even order their book online, which contains coupons for free beer. Free. Beer.

I shall close out this entry with a few images from my merry memories of Beers Past. First, here's a photo of Professor Beer straining to smile as he hoists a liter of Hofbräu (another one of the Munich Big Six), NOT in Munich, but at Resi's Bierstube on West Irving Park Rd. in Chicago. Resi's boasts lots and lots of wonderful imports on tap and in the bottle, and they have a super little beergarden (well, tiny backyard to be fair). In the foreground stands two weissbiers (wheat beers), a Franziskaner (owned by Spaten, yet another of the Big Six...OK OK, the others are Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr and Löwenbräu, and technically Spaten and Löwenbräu sort of own each other, so it's really only a Big Five, and on that note I'll shut up about this Big Six stuff) and a Weihenstephan (who have allegedly been in business nearly three centuries before Augustiner).

Still with me in Chicago? Then let's head around the corner from Resi's and up North Lincoln Ave. for a couple of blocks to the Glunz Bavarian Haus.
The Glunz Bavarian Haus lives up to their name by offering delicious Spaten and Hofbräu on tap, along with a cool oompah band that will encourage you to "RAISE your glasses!" to the Ein Prosit anthem. One noteworthy difference to the beergarden experience in Chicago is that you aren't obligated to order an entire liter of suds - especially worth remembering if you are anywhere near a steering wheel. There's no problem in settling for a Half. Meanwhile, in, best buy a transit day pass before your Mass!

Finally, let's end our appreciation of Munich beer at the Hofbräuhaus! Yes, I know, it's full of kids from America having their first beer far away from Mom's watchful eyes, and there are Japanese tourists lining up to photograph the lederhosen guys in the band before rushing out to grab the tour coach. Oh, what a cynic I am. However, it's still a Can't Miss for any visitor to Munich, you're guaranteed a few laughs to go with the Helles and Pretzel, and I'm sure more than a few locals turn up there to take in the atmosphere while hoping like hell that nobody they know recognizes them there. Actually, from what I can tell in the first few seconds of this video clip, I do believe I've crashed a Hen-Party....Ein, Swei, Drei, g'suffa!
NEXT: The Paradise that is Mürren!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Yikes! July already!

First off, a belated Happy Fourth to my American friends! Our own national holiday, Canada Day, was gloriously sunny and hot, and we finally saw a break from the June weather of thundershower after shower. I'm just about ready to get out there and start some summer walking without having to bring along an unbrella.

This entry continues the theme of Great Meals in America with a salute to the wonderful Lou Malnati's pizza empire of Chicago. The Windy City is famous for its deep-dish style of pizza, first presented there by Pizzaria Uno and imitated but rarely improved upon by many others since. I gather that Mr. Malnati was associated with Uno's before starting up his own restaurant, and after visiting the downtown location for the first time in 2002 I was well and truly converted. It's now a must-chow for me each time I visit Chicago. Thick, cheesy, and filled with wonderful ingredients, this just may be getting stuffed at its best! Here is the arrival of a Medium pizza at the Lou Malnati's Schaumburg, IL location in 2007. Yes, life is good! NEXT: Bavarian suds from Munich and...Chicago?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Chicken Wings - Instant Replay

Not every post is going to be about chicken wings from the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY. But it's as good a start as I can think of for a blog that is supposed to be about happy things, and a double-order of Hot Wings at the Anchor, with extra blue-cheese dressing on the side, rates fairly high for me on the Happy Meter. Here's a quick clip of some wings showing up at my table sometime last year. I have to make plans to return sometime soon! NEXT: The joys of Lou Malnati's Pizza!