Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Oktoberfest : Einzug der Wiesnwirte


One of my favorite things about Oktoberfest is all the pageantry surrounding it.  On the starting day the festival begins with the Einzug der Wiesnwirte, it sort of means parade of the Octoberfest farmers, but that's not what it is. It's all of the tent breweries, bands, wait staff and horses in full regalia festively marching to the Oktoberfest grounds.


It was overcast this year, but still I was determined to go to the starting point at Sendlinger Tor and get some snaps. At this time of year I really wish I had street photography chops. It's one of the few occasions where people gladly let you take pictures of them. The city is full of interesting takes on tracht. From Bavarian hipsters, to kids wearing converse and lederhosen to tourists with their tats ironically sporting cheap-o dirndls, I love every bit of it.








I love the jolly 'behind the scenes' vibe. It was raining pretty hard, and the gals on this Hofbräu float were bargaining with passers by: An umbrella for 3 beer gift certificates.


A couple of years ago, there must have been some kind of detour going on, because the parade went right past our front door. We didn't know it, and as we walked out of the door that saturday morning on our way to Ikea (we had totally forgotten it was the first day of the Wiesn) there was all of the Oktoberfest pomp and circumstance in full glory, gaily marching past our building at full blast.




























I'll go with my in-laws this weekend for our annual Familientreff. We decided to brave the crowds for a family Oktoberfest outing on the second to last day.

Prost!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Amma Und Appa - Go See This Movie!


Amma Appa Trailer from Franziska Schönenberger on Vimeo.

We went whole hog during the Dok Fest this year and saw as many as we could. Only a few made a lasting impression: Land ins Sicht about Asylum seekers in Germany, Neuland which followed students in a Swiss cultural integration course, La Brass Banda a rousing homage to a fantastic local band and Amma & Appa, a charming documentary that chronicles a young Bavarian-Indian couple as they bring their parents together.

We saw Amma & Appa it in a packed audience at the Musem Fünf Kontinenten (Staatliches Mueum für Völerkunde), which was great. It felt like the lively crowd, self included, never stopped laughing.

Franziska Schönenberger and Jayakrishnan Subramanian are the couple at the center of the documentary as well as it's creators. Franziska is a student at the University of Televsion and Film and Munich (you know, that big fancy new school in Maxvorstadt right around the Pinakotheken; seems they're cranking out good talent) and Jay studies Media Art at the Bahaus University in Weimar.

The documentary displays a talent for human observation, sensitive storytelling, humor and very fresh art direction.



I was really happy today when I saw that it's in theaters (this is the Rio Palast at Rosenheimerstr.) It's also at the Monopol.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Milbertshofen? Yes! Milbertshofen!


A few weeks ago I took a good girlfriend out to celebrate her birthday. I asked what kind of food she wanted (Asian) and then she told me to pick a place.

I have a list of places I want to try, but most of them are kind of imbiss-y. I also didn't want to go to one of the neighborhoods I routinely choose when going out to eat (Haidhausen, Glockenbach, Schwabing). I wanted something new, something out of the ordinary, even if it meant taking a longer tram or Ubahn ride.

We're currently planning a trip to Mexico so I've been using Trip Advisor a lot. So just for shits and giggles I went to the site and typed in 'best Asian food in Munich'.  The first result was some totally high-end schickimiki joint with teeny portions on giant white plates (insert loud buzzer sound here). The second was a Thai restuarant in Milbertshofen(!) called Rhabiangthai. I checked out the website, it looked decent so we were off to the races.



As we approached a family was leaving and the mom was Asian (good sign!). The atmosphere was nice but easy and casual. It was full.



We started with some fried Tofu which was EXCELLENT. I want to go back and order five portions just as a main course. We ordered a couple of glasses of prosecco and they were filled to the prim (and Rhabiangthai scores another point!)

Here's my friend Elyse. She asked if I'd take her picture so she could be on my blog. Here's your fifteen minutes Elyse!



Our mains were also really good. Although Elyse's wasn't as spicy as she'd hoped, despite the three chili icon warning. We could only assume the proprietors were taking the sensitive German palate into account when designating spiciness levels on the menu.



I'll definitely go back to this place and  I'm happy I've got a new Geheimtipp for the rare times that I find myself in the northern reaches of the city. It feels (and tastes) good to get out of my normal 'perimeter'.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pretty Viktualienmarkt Pics

Last week I went on kind of a rant, so I thought I'd share some pretty pictures with you today.

 I got a new camera. It's one of those jobs that you can click on to your iphone and control with an app. I'm not much of a natural photographer, but I'm pretty pleased with these.
 Now that I'm looking at the pix, I realize I should have actually bought and ate some of these berries.

A pretty wreath. My husband, whose a better photog, pointed out I should have closed in on a single berry for more contrast with the depth of field. Next time.

Oktoberfest is around the corner, time to bust out the hops!


There's always room for wine and cheese...


Who was Ida Schumacher and why is this statue (occasionally adorned with flowers) dedicated to her? Turns out she was a Bavarian comedian and actress. All this time I assumed she was the first person to have a stand at the market...shows what I (don't) know.


These homies. The Viktualienmarkt is full of small bands of local guys standing around drinking beer, sort of like a Stammtisch sans the Tisch. Note the cigarette packets placed safely out of harms way.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Some Thoughts On Blogging

Lately I've been getting a lot of email from PR agencies asking me to promote products, services or events on this blog.

Wahlmüncherin is a hobby, a labor of love; an idea I put into action a few years ago when I made a promise to myself to organize my life more around creative pursuits I care about.

I've never sat down and seriously thought out a strategy to 'monetize' the blog, attract advertisers or even how to react when approached.  If something seemed to fit (a cultural event, a service I would honestly consider using) I might write about it. I also have a soft spot for small, independent businesses or fellow Münchners trying to get something going.

However, a recent exchange with a company got me highly irritated and triggered some strong feels about this whole blogging gig. None of this is new and has been discussed all over the internet ad nauseum, but here's my .02:
  • This is a blog, not a free or low cost advertising service. 
  • If a company/agency offers a blogger a product to try, it should be implicit that there is the potential for a negative post if the product sucks.
  • As a blogger, my loyalty is to my readers not some entity trying to sell something.
I recently discovered GOMI (Get Off My Internets). A venting grounds where (often very funny) self-described 'haters' go to vent about bloggers. I would be lying if I didn't admit I love it. A lot of people commenting there (I just lurk) say what many are thinking. A recurring theme is people being sick of getting 'sold to' on blogs.

We all have to put food on the table. I'm also in favor of trying to support yourself with creative endeavors, I'm striving to do that myself, but without my husband's full time job, this whole operation would go kaputt. If you think you're going to make money by starting a blog, you're better off buying a lottery ticket.

Anyone can start a blog, it requires very little talent or skill and it doesn't entitle the person who has started it to compensation for doing it. As far as I can tell, people who garner large followings of their blogs, the kinds that are able to make money doing it, have one, some or all of these things going for them:
  1. They started at the right time (before 2006)
  2. They're really good writers and/or curators of unique content
  3. They're authentic and establish a real connection with their readers
  4. They're consistent, and disciplined about publishing content
  5. They're extremely savvy networkers and self-promoters
These days, though, the whole thing is getting so fragmented and changing so fast, even bloggers who have all five things going for them are scrambling. If they try to keep the endeavor going by shoving ads in their readers faces 24/7 people get sick of it. Grace Bonney writes very thoughtfully about this. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

I don't care if this blog ever gets a lot of followers, that's not why I publish it (in fact I can't even really tell you why I publish it). What I do know is that I care about how my readers receive it. For Wahlmuc I hope to be good at points 2-4.

I believe people have a strong reaction to being sold to on blogs because the medium is an intimate one. Writing a blog post is like inviting someone into your living room. No one wants their friends to start selling them Amway at a dinner party. It's tacky. It's a turn off. I do want my friends to tell me about things they like, or have used or bought, but only if it's genuine.

Now.

I have three blogs. Soon to be two. This one (Wahlmüncherin), one I started where I write about project management for small businesses (and was started out of a mix of genuine passion and commercial reasons) that I will soon shut down, and one that is explicitly commercial and about products I sell on my e-commerce site - sure I throw in personal interest stuff, but it's clearly a part of my store and about me selling my stuff.

My conclusion from starting all three: Be explicitly commercial or don't be commercial at all. People aren't stupid. They get what you're trying to do and will respond accordingly. As a blogger, I'm happier and more comfortable approaching each post with that clarity. I guess these 700+ words are just a long winded way of saying this:

I will never try to sell you something on this blog while pretending I'm not.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Great Bavarians: Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog Venice Film Festival 2009.jpg

Listening to this 1998 Werner Herzog interview from the Fresh Air archives yesterday reminded me of a.) how much I enjoy listening to him speak b.) that he's from Bavaria (Munich born) and c.) I've very much enjoyed his films.

A portion of the interview that particularly fascinated me was his recounting of his childhood in postwar Germany. He tells of fatherless boys ruling entire, decimated city blocks and his own peaceful but impoverished childhood (he was often hungry) in a remote village in the Bavarian Alps with a group of laid-back, gum chewing, American G.I.s.

The Herzog films I've enjoyed include Mein Liebester Feind, Encounters at the End of the World and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. I'm looking forward to seeing his past and future films too.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Date Night In Munich


One of the reasons I started this blog was that I found myself repeatedly answering email queries from friends, family or colleagues about to visit Munich. What is there to do? Where should we eat?

As I got to know the city better, I also wanted to share the side of it that I had come to known by exploring so much of it on foot, and just living here day to day. I think  Munich is one of those cities you can drop into, explore Marienplatz and the Altstadt and get funneled into all the clichéd Bavarian sites (I'm looking at you, Hofbräuhaus). Which is unfortunate, because you'll totally miss the true heart and vibe of this town.

A friend who is visiting with his family recently emailed me asking about some good places to go out on a date night with his wife. The irony of this request is that said friend is from München! However he left to study in the U.S. (he's half American). We've sort of swapped lives a little bit: He lives in Los Angeles. I left L.A. when I was 18 and would also have to email someone to know where to go and get a good meal.

So anyway, here was my advice to an ex-Münchner:


Nice/Fancy/Romantic places:

Gold Loch in Haidhausen. Here's a good article on it from the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Small menu, excellent wine selection, right across form Johanniskirche. Reserve ASAP and don’t let them put you in the Keller.

Upper Eat Side I haven’t been here yet, but it’s big on my list. Geising (Ober und Unter) is becoming the next hip place (because no one can afford to live anywhere else!) I think their deal is kind of ‘nose to tail’ emphasizing local Zutaten aus Bayern.

Gar Punkt This place is supposed to be excellent. Good wine, unsuspecting and kind of hidden in Obere Au, can be hard to get reservations.

Vinaiolo  Kind of old school, but very romantic and right next to Maria Passagne in case you want an Absacker.


Hip & Fun (but on the loud side):

Attentat Greischer Salat  Another Geising joint; crazy salads and lively atmosphere. I wrote about it here and here's the Yelp review.

Spezlwirtschaft Hipster alpine food right in the middle of town. Was recently in the NYTimes. Live DJs and Rahmschmankerls among other items.

Hey Luigi I never get sick of this place, but it does get crowded/loud.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to make reservations. The M.U.C. Is a sleepy little town next to L.A. NYC and Berlin, I know; but it is impossible to get in anywhere spontaneously especially on the weekend.

Guten Apetit!

Image from Upper Eat Side Instagram feed.