Friday, May 24, 2013

Wine and Wittelsbachs, part two

St. George slays the emerald dragon
We have Albert V, Duke of Bavaria from 1550-1579 to thank for the stunning collection on display in the Treasury of the Residenz Museum in the center of Munich. Albert was a patron of the arts, and he amassed great treasures from across Europe. He commissioned the construction of the cavernous Antiquarium to house his collection of Roman statues and busts, and it stands today as the largest Renaissance hall north of the Alps.

In a brilliant legal move, the Duke stated in his will that the entire collection of Wittelsbach treasures remain together and never be sold. Over 1,000 years worth of religious artifacts, crowns, swords, jewels, and priceless metalworks form one of the most important collections in the world. A prayer book from the Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Bald (great name, right?) dating from 890 is on display. Also in the collection is the oldest surviving crown of England from 1370, known as the Palatine Crown for Queen Anne of Bohemia. The crown is an intricate and delicate work of gold covered in diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and tiny little pearls.

Just what I need for the school run
The small and intimate presentation of the stunning collection is what appealed most to the little C&Gs. I think if we were in a big museum they would have skipped from one item to the next. But they really got a chance to press their noses up to the glass (bulletproof, I'm assuming) and examine each piece up close. They certainly don't let you get that close to the crown jewels in the Tower of London.

The highlight of the collection for the boys was the statue of St. George slaying the dragon. This gold reliquary was made to hold the remains of the legendary St. George, famous for slaying a dragon and rescuing a princess in the early Middle Ages. Chances are he was a purely mythical character but I'm sure he'd be pleased to know his remains would be guarded by this stunning statue covered with more than 2,000 emeralds, rubies, and pearls. The dragon is breathtaking, covered from nose to tail in emeralds with rubies dripping from his head to symbolize where he was struck by the sword. The little C&Gs loved the story and took turns making up their own knights and dragons stories with their action figures (bought in the gift shop) at the wine bar next door.

I swear that's grape juice Big C&G has in his glass
Just out the door of the Residenz Museum and half a block to the right was the wonderful Pfalzer Residenz Weinstube. The restaurant is run by a local wine collective, so there's no beer but plenty of delicious local wines and specialty grape juices. They have tables out front and in the back is a stone courtyard that's part of the Residenz complex. Inside are vaulted ceilings, long wooden tables, and no menus in English.

The dining room was incredibly noisy which was perfect for the medieval battle going on at our table. We sampled a large number of wines (they came in small glasses, really) while the boys toasted with their grape juices and sparkling apple sodas. The charcuterie plate got the evening started and we have no idea what we ordered after that. Partly from all the wine but mostly because we couldn't understand our waiter and he couldn't understand us.

Lots of wine and not a salad
Little C&G ended up not eating his flammkuchen, which we thought was pizza-like when we saw it on a nearby table. We ordered it with cheese and "pepperoni", but the pepperoni turned out to be green peppers. Thankfully he worked his way through the giant basket of German bread and we didn't have to find a hot dog stand on the way home.

Big C&G took a guess and ordered what he thought was steak. Happily he was right, but I wasn't so lucky with the salad I thought I ordered. It came out after everyone was done and turned out to be apple pancakes with blue cheese and grapes. After several glasses of wine and not a lot of food, it was the best pancakes I've ever had.

In such a beer crazy city the Pfalzer Residenz Weinstube was a delightful find. And even better since we didn't have to venture too far from the museum that we'd spent all day in. Most important, we learned our lesson that night with our inability to decipher German menus. As soon as we got back to the hotel Mr. C&G splurged on the $4.99 German to English dictionary app, as the free one certainly wasn't going to help us out in the flammkuchen department.

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