We all know the world teems with wondrous places. There are those I portray in my book 7 ½ Places of Wonder: Munich, Dubai, Florence, Andalusia, Oxford, Jerusalem, St. Petersburg, and Stockholm, but there are also lesser known locales that inspire and uplift. They’re often just byway found along minor roads, but are steeped in natural beauty with landmarks and traditions that reach back into antiquity. One such place is Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the mountain resort town in Bavaria, Southern Germany (just over an hour south of Munich), that enjoys a population of about 26,000 inhabitants. You probably know that among all of Garmisch’s wonders, it’s also home to Germany’s highest mountain—the Zugspitze, at 9714 feet, and the site of the 1936 Winter Olympics. I was recently there visiting an American friend, Ann, who makes her life in that magical corner of the world. Garmisch, nestled deep within a lush green valley, is surrounded by limestone peaks, wooded slopes, pastureland, and alpine meadows—all garnished with trout-filled lakes and streams that suggest a past that reaches back to the Ice Age.
On the subject of trout: Bavarian streams are famous for their healthy populations of trout, one of my personal favorites in alpine eating adventures.
While I was with Ann, we prepared trout one evening for dinner. We bought it in a local market, where it’s called Forelle. Our recipe of choice that evening was Ettaler Forellen (the English translation would simply be Ettal* Trout) from Bavarian Cooking by Olli Leeb. Our menu included Petersilienkartöffelchen (parsley potatoes) with horseradish sauce, Weissbier (white beer), and Bauernbrot (peasant bread). To be extra healthy, we threw in a salad.
The recipe for Ettal Trout (with small interpretations by Ann) goes like this:
For one person:
1 brook trout
salt and pepper
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig sage
butter for cooking; (oil is fine, too)
Clean and wash the trout and rub it with salt and pepper inside and out. Place herbs in the belly of the fish. Brush the fish with butter (or oil) and put into well lubricated fish grill. Close the grill and stand it first at an angle to the glowing charcoal; then, when the heat has subsided, lay it flat and cook it on both sides until done. Serve with above noted side dishes.
(*Ettal is the name of a nearby mountain village.)
There’s much to share about Garmisch, but this time I was preoccupied by one of the region’s most delightful characteristic: frescoed houses, locally known as Lüftlmalerei, which depict both religious and secular scenes. Below are a few images of those that stood out.