Munich bakeries: bread stories and sweetheart pastry

Munich bakeries celebrate simplicity of basic perfection, but also compete with contemporary pastry trends balanced by pleasing traditionalists. With the help of my delightfully researched guide you can relish the everyday basics at the best bakeries and pastry boutiques in the wonderful “Italy of the North” as the sweet lifestyle in München is often called.

While rivers of Bier flow at München Oktoberfest, Germany can pride itself in another, equally filling, tradition, and that of baking excellent bread and pastries. The liquid bread hardens up beyond the visually hubsch pretzels into loafs of slowly raised sourdough, seeded superfood bricks, gluten-free surprises and buttery, flaky pastries. I have been tasting and testing various bakeries in Munich ever since a sublime bread roll during my stop over at its airport whetted my appetite for more local Brot.

best Munich bakeriesMunchen brot

In Europe of the feudal past we used to hold bread festivities. Feasts ritualised our consumption. Celebrating the essential slow food of one’s culture is now a forgotten village affair or revived as a tourist attraction. Yet, we still need to eat, and we better do it mindfully. Raised awareness of our essential needs in time of conjuring affluence when quality mingles with mass quantity, lured some of our old traditions back. Now, those soul-hungry lineup at artisan bakeries in adoration of simple perfection. More, we can get a closer look at the tattooed bakers’ arms that cropped up along with the hip millennial chefs and Wimbledon finalists, as many of the small-scale bakeries opened up their backstage to the customer.

German bakers German bakeries

Munich bakeries undressed

The bakeries in Munich set the level in Central Europe very high. Behold, also in the gluten-frei (gf) realm! Before my recent visit, I still thought that Vienna, Paris, even Copenhagen were the Holy Grails of artisan bread. While all of these cities are hardly surpassed in their quality of bread, I cannot cast a vote on the winner. Each pulls up strength in its own tradition elevated by the contemporary zeal for artisan food.

Munich best pastryBreakfast pastry in Germany

Not far from the university, sipping my oat milk cappuccino at the hip Men Versus Machine café daily, I observed the locals joining me at the few spare chairs set outside. Each time someone unwrapped a paper bag they brought along. As if it was written in the local foodie magazine. A scent of baker’s perfume, like a Jin escaped out to grant me my greatest desire. The man next to me pulled out a buttery croissant. Oh la la! French rolled through my by coffee-infused mind. Next day another coffee breaker teased out of the same blue printed bag an apple bread roll to match the steaming brew. Naturally, I had to make my turn! So I did. Excitedly — two rounds within 16 hours  — I stormed salivating into the Julius Brantner Brothanwerk bakery. The apple bread is out of this world and the most popular country loaf (both sold in smaller sizes as well) are both must try. Watching the two bakers (ladies) through the window, thumbing up the precision with which they rolled croissants and their returning winks, brought me in the following morning. They only sell them on certain days like Friday. In order to melt my lips in their buttery slips, I had to rush in. I brought the warm heaven in a bag along with me to the coffee shop, to indulge like a local. A copy-cat eager to be pleased.

German gluten-free breadGF Munchen

Echtjetzt! does gluten-free bread and pastry a honor by compensating generously with flavour in seeds, spices and other savvy tricks to let you oozing with joy. While not everything is at par with the best there is in the “normal” flour realm, most will surprise your tastebuds with a delightful texture. You must try their generously seeded Korn an Korn loaf and the non vegan (less dry) cinnamon roll. The bread holds superbly also the next day. A heroic achievement in the gluten-free, hard to bake springy, rather dry style. Their Karottenbrot turns out a moist carrot brick, do not bother. The pretzel must have cheese, otherwise while the texture is close, it can hardly compare with the “real stuff”.

Munich gourmands are not blindly and egotistically following only the local bread scene. My favorite gourmet grocer Käfer sells Joseph Brot from Vienna. Also as Italian as it gets Café Centrale in the heart of the old town serves incredible panini and tramezzini for breakfast and lunch.

best baker Munichbest gourmet shops in Munich

My favorite organic (mainly) flour and baking supplier in Munich Hofbrauhaus Kunstmuhle is an offshoot of the traditional baker E. Knapp & R. Wenig. Their crispy flatbread seasoned with anise and cumin is a great food companion. The spices ease digestion. They also sell with poppy seed dusted buns, sublime walnut twists and babka, for which lines of loyal customers form each day. Yet their pretzels are rather boring to our taste.

best pastry in Munich Munich bread

The most sublime pastry shops in Munich

Sweet tooth and minds will revel at Maelu. Their pastries lure the passersby for fruit tarts, chocolates (love their cinnamon rochers and ginger coated in dark chocolate), but above all their baumkuchen. This German fine pastry, rolled from ultrathin layers of pancake-like dough is elevated here in a vanilla cream centre and fresh mango, blueberries or other seasonal toppings. Sublime! The Japanese love this light treat and here is a fine example.

best pastry in Munich

Just a glimpse of the French pastry by master “Konditor” Lea Zapf on Viktualienmarkt since last summer turned me on and around. I had to get a few pieces for the road. I assembled countless car ride comforts each time we passed through Munich. You must bite into their canelé! A Bordeux masterpiece shaped like a small cylinder flavored with rum and vanilla. Since I lived in France and successfully baked them, I am a harsh critic. Lea Zapf’s crunchy caramelised surface bites into an airy moist centre puding as a proper canelé should be. Another delight of a dense chocolate tart with crunchy hazelnut topping survived our ride to Vienna so it could grace my terrace breakfast with a grace that the Sachertorte would turn red!

Cafe Luitpold cakeCafe Luitpold signature cake

More traditional is Café Luitpold. Your eyes scrolling over their glass counters awaken the inner child at any age. Those chocolate fly shapes with almond wings or the unicorn coated in white chocolate roar from their lolly-like sticks. I wanted them all, but strolling back to my hotel after a dinner nearby, I found my ultimate pleasure in the dark chocolate robe with the marzipan heart. I also got a chocolate and sweet marzipan laced cake with cream and airy soft layers for a breakfast on the next morning.

I was literary turning into a sweetheart!

Wandering around Munich with a bottle of local beer seems as natural as the nudists spread wide on the lawn of its vast and wonderful English Garden (as if it were a Mediterranean plage naturiste). I hope that my decadent research had infused your next visit to include its baked cousin and some sweet mouthfuls. The local established and up and coming master bakers and patissiers proved their worth!

Lanserhof: Energy Cuisine or fasting in painterly Bavaria

Lanserhof Am Tegernsee in Bavaria is the most contemporary resort for fasting and one of the most advanced holistic medical clinics in Europe. The LANS Med concept includes burnout and stress coping, immunity boost, a sleep clinic, performance and body-mind regeneration through Energy Cuisine® next to complementary therapies such as cellgym, cold chamber and customised exercise. Each of the stay-in branches of this medical spa group is set in a beautiful natural environment with minimalist and sustainable building design. Bedding in a five star hotel, medical staff at your disposal, any health test you can name, massages, facials, yoga, swimming and all inclusive three healthy meals (alkaline, mainly organic, locally sourced and seasonal) each day. Welcome to the perfect package for your well-being set in nature. Athletes, seniors, models, and fit couples mingle with overweight guests striving to lose it fast. Everybody finds a better balance at Lanserhof. You either eat wholesomely and are very active or you snuggle into your room sip infusions, broth and fast.

fasting in GermanyBavaria retreat

Fasting is a current diet trend, and its proven health benefits (autoimune, cardiac and dermal diseases) kick started my husband’s regular fasting program. I wrote about the tenets of fasting, here I dip more into my own experience at Lanserhof Am Tegernsee resort in Southern Germany. The original branch in the Tyrolean Austria at Lans, is more lowkey and cheaper. There are less classes, talks, less herbal infusions, the surroundings are not as breathtaking as Am Tegernsee, and only a few rooms (spa wing) were renovated to the Tegernsee luxury standard.

I went deeper in other posts on the psychological, sensory and spiritual aspects of supervised food abstinence. Many composers, writers and other creative people have voluntarily fasted, hence my interest in how my mind will be affected furthered my resolve. At Lanserhof, it was not a cheap experience. At home though fasting is risky for your health, for each of us is different and can have serious health problems. At the private clinic my blood pressure and pulse were measured daily if needed, and experienced medical staff checked you to keep you safe. If you can afford this five-star purge, having the support of trained medical staff, the newest technology, supplements and advanced holistic therapies at your hand, this is the ideal, most pampering setting for a wholesome cleanse. 


Wellness with a fairytale setting in Bavaria

The only place I could ever fully fast has to be surrounded by pristine nature. Aiding my effort to erase food from my hedonistic mind for a few days, Bavaria, with its pre-Alpine landscape, lush cows’ pastures, painterly chapels, sprawling lakes and fairy castles seemed as the perfect setup. Tegernsee is beautiful, and cycling around outside the holiday season is easy and safe. Mostly, the paths are separated from the main road circling the clear blue lake. The only hills you have to climb are back to the clinic, here the electric bike available at Lanserhof helps, so go for it. The entire loop took us two hours. Spring (count with lots of rain) or fall are the best times to enjoy this abundant region, not too hot neither freezing. It affected me physically but mainly emotionally. Nature gives me more mental energy to focus, read, write and simply be.

terrace furniturespa at Lanserhof

Healthy activities at Lanserhof go beyond the physical

Plenty of healthful distractions fill up your schedule if you want, while you still can rest. Lectures in English, German and Russian in Room Inspiration support your resolve (I enjoyed the Happiness talk by the bestselling German Florian Langenscheidt, who has studied it for over 30 years and lectured on happiness at Harvard; a better sleep lecture is useful to any city dweller). Hot baths, sauna infusion, once per week gong meditation and live music sessions from jazz, flute, guitar, through piano soothe your mind. Creating comfort is key to a more pleasant fast. You can wear your robe or workout clothes all day, but dinnertime is smart casual. Wearing warm clothes is essential as you get colder than usual. Blankets and the warm liver pack you should use before lunch and after dinner in your room asist with your comfort.

Warm herbal infusions abundantly offered ready on tap on each corner comforted me tremendously. In the morning I sipped the more invigorating ones such as ginkgo, ginseng, peppermint and thyme while afternoons introduced more calming barley, hops, rosemary, chamomile and others.

Lymphatic drainage of the upper body with suction cups also eased me. Some detox treatments are very intense so plan just resting after them. The detox algae wrap in a steam chamber really tires you, and the sticky honey pinching massage left slight bruising on my tights. Electrolyte foot bath removes toxins through the pores of your feet, the color of the water can change to orange, gray or anything weird, but it is meaningless. I loved the energizing foot reflexology with Marco, who is passionate about China and teaches qigong classes twice per week. The morning “awakening in nature” sets you out onto the verdant golf course, walking fast and then activating your joints through exercise, a wonderful start!

Supporting our struggle and keeping us busy with daily group yoga classes, gentle elastic band strength training, back muscle training, stretching, and outdoor walks of various lengths. The yoga teachers had each very different style, but all were gentle, fascia and restoration supportive asanas. Beginners mixed with advanced yogis call for a compromise, plus those on the fast cannot be pushed too hard. Mindfulness was the main tool.

fasting supplements

Alkalising, detoxing, supporting and supplementing for health

Everyone at Lanserhof drinks an alkaline Epsom salt solution before breakfast, spoons bitter digestive drops before each ‘meal’ (if any), adding an acid-base balance capsules or powder three times per day to alkalise the body in between. The body releases acid substances while detoxing, so to avoid problems you must ingest alkaline beverages and supplements. Mineral (Kalium, Magnesium) and vitamin supplements were further prescribed according to individual needs.

The only drop of alcohol you get here is in the bitter drops. The plant-based Lans Derma Products supplied in your room were free from any proven toxins, yet I did not like all of them. You get to choose your favorite fragrance of the body lotion, I love Vitality. Their conditioner just did not work. Further, there is no body brush, while the Mayr regime stipulates daily body brushing before morning cold-hot shower. There is a Kneipp foot bath available to everyone at any time until 4pm daily.

The doctors at Lanserhof are specially trained in the F. X. Mayr Prevent® programme. They administer frequent medical check ups and supportive or cramps alleviating colon massage. You are measured, your bioimpedance (distribution of strength) is calculated, biometrically (body composition) tested and your blood, stool and urine analysed for deficiencies and sensitivities. Intravenous infusions inject nutrients fast into your bloodstream to support the cure. The German rigour penetrates the clinic, although the scheduling makes mistakes, so always double-check and avoid schedule clashes with your mind and exercise program. Also beware of your allergies and dietary restrictions as I was served soy products despite having them listed on my table. Ahead, request empty windows for classes you wish to attend. The restorative yoga five days each week and a qigong were my must does. The mat pilates is a great core builder and I had once an entire class one on one.

Perfectionism reeks even outdoors on the gingerbread houses and chapels in the region. It is a pasture for the eyes to cycle around.

Bavaria, GermanyBavaria, Germany

Beyond fasting: the LANSmed clinic programs

Visiting specialist doctors can check your heart, skin and intestinal health. Much is not included in your initial package, such as the medical consultations and the manual stomach massage. The private healthcare cost is high. Expect hundreds of Euros for blood tests, colonoscopy to additional infusions (amino-acids for hair and skin, iron, electrolytes, vitality, liver, …).

Performance is an active program that can be complemented with cellgym® and ice chamber for more energy and vitality. Weight-loss is supported by the newest technology such as Endospheres® microvibration and other anti-aging or slimming machines literally dissolve fat in your body and firm the skin. I have not tried, but for those seeking physical perfection, these are great tech options.


zero fat bodyminimalist design

If you need a beauty boost facials there is Rohini, Pharmos Natur, Subtle Energies and Royal Fern for green luxury, while medical anti-ageing customised skin care by MBR, UNIVERSKIN analysis, oxygen jet peel, radiofrequency and TDR® for immediate visible results. I did once the Lanserhof Sublime skin active lift facial, which was finished with my favourite kobido technique massage. The hair salon uses green Italian brand Davines and Wella (very ok my husband) for color. Add on rejuvenating body treatments from natural hydration with pure Ecuadorian aloe and body wraps are much needed as the detox taxes the skin with dryness. Treatments specially developed for men were adapted to their unique needs.

SPRING DETOX: snow surprised us on the second week in May!

fit bodywellness stay

Energy Cuisine and fasting with the Meyr method at Lanserhof

Like ayurveda, the F. X. Mayr method is about supporting your digestive fire. Your gut and intestines are going for an alkaline treat. They get a much needed rest after working nonstop. Having it all prepared and without any temptation in your cupboard or a minibar makes fasting at Lanserhof much easier than you would think. I started slowly, with just a short fast, a trial. I am encouraged to undergo a longer one if my health needs it. After the three full days of the water fast, I was shocked how much a half slice of toast filled me up! Slight headaches and very light sleep were the unpleasant side effects, so I would not recommend fasting for someone with a jet lag. Also low blood pressure can make you dizzy.

balanced health

The fast itself was not bad, but the liver detox I was recommended by by doctor due to my regular wine indulgence punished me with the worst, sleepless, sickening night of my life. Drinking a glassful of olive oil mixed with grapefruit juice and liver-detoxifying herbal supplements stirred a nauseating sensation for the hours about to haunt me. Even the warm hay pack administered to my liver in my room the day before to activate the organ did not lessen the torture. A double sword when you fast before. I would not advise anyone to undergo this intense detox while fasting. A liver intravenous infusion is advised afterwards.  

healthy breakfastdetox cuisineFX Meyr fasting

I fasted only for three, almost four days, so I tried most of the chewable detox food served in various quantities and complexity levels. Immediately before and after the fast you go on the lowest food intake. Chewing, like in macrobiotics (promoted also at the Sha Clinic in Spain), is an essential component of the Mayr cure at Lanserhof. Dry or stale bread are the best trainers. Crackers are much harder to masticate 30 to 40 times. So is rice or potatoes a level up, hence an additional bread is served with it at Tegernsee (not at Lans). Although some of the food is purposefully bland (carbs-rich and very low fat), you will find your own favorites and appreciate the energy cuisine level up much more. The bread rolls taste stale, the cracking spelt flatbread is alright, but for most the crispy cum chewy buckwheat toast is best.

A clear vegetable soup came at dinner. At Tegernsee, acidophilus or goat’s milk or a choice from plant milks that can be served warm if you like (my favorite was the more dense oat) or goat, sheep or soy yogurt with dry diet bread, cracker or toast (gf options include a nice buckwheat toast, buckwheat biscuits or a papery corn waffle) subbed for breakfast and lunch.

Mayr cure at LanserhofTrout, crispbread, herbs and salsify

A level up at dinner are pureed soups (fibre is more complicated in your intestines so needs to be added slowly) and steamed vegetables with the fasting breads that can be enjoyed with the anti-inflammatory cold-pressed linseed oil. Breakfast started with a toast, vegetable spread (avocado, carrot, spinach and chickpeas or weekly special such as the fresh sheep’s cheese with caraway and herbs), milk, honey or maple sirup over porridge (oatmeal is best, but quinoa, rye, rice, spelt are also offered). Rice, one type of steamed vegetable, toast and sprouts at lunch. The curried soups were our favourites (such as sweet potato, celery), but the carrot with coconut and rice milk cream was great too.

In Level III you get extra calories with more fat and protein in breakfast (love the coconut yogurt) and lunch (fish, lean meat and vegetables or vegetarian like blini with spinach, optional soup or dessert). Dinner is the rich soup with diet bread, unless you want to go light with only a broth.

healthy breakfastfood at Lanserhof Tegernsee

Energy Cuisine is for athletes.Artisan cheese

The Energy Cuisine at Tegernsee is for active people, athletes, but also for anyone interested in keeping with the balanced eating back at home. It was ideal for me and I felt a huge boost in energy when I moved to this diet. Breakfast includes more choices than Level III, one type of fruit, yogurt, porridge, muesli, ham, jam, butter! and is served like continental breakfast, sometimes it includes eggs. Our last meals before departure shifted to this delicious menu. Dinner includes vegetable cream soup and a main course with bread. My eyes lit up as there are four courses at lunch and not plain simple as the lower levels of the Lanserhof diet. In fall, I went for venison as it was the hunting season in the region (served with cranberries, roasted pumpkin and puree) and ended with an artisan cheese plate from local farms instead of an apple strudel. I left happy.

luxury vegetablesluxury detox

In spring, local grilled trout with Bavarian green asparagus was nicely done. We requested specially the white asparagus. Knowing that here they grow the best in the world, we bought some for home. The Lanserhof team generously gifted us a carry on picnic bag and ice packs to keep it cool. Surrounded by organic farmland, Bavaria was blessed. What a treat! For gourmands at any level, those massive thumb-thick white spears shaded underground were best served simple as we asked just for rice, served plain at Lanserhof and an extra olive oil. No sauce was needed to decorate the queen of its class. As the Germans proudly and rightfully say the “white gold”.

minimalist designbest health clinic design

We had some fun during our stays. Board games and live music entertained the rainy evenings. While in spring the days get longer so a stroll after dinner felt wonderful with those views. Golfers can hit some balls at surrounding 18-hole course. The first short fasting was quite bad for my immunity though. Subsequently traveling through Israel to Asia I got a very bad cold needing antibiotics. Try not to travel extensively after an intense detox, add Vitamin C. The pampered and rested body is more vulnerable, but the psychological and spiritual experience is worth the stay.

Our second time at Lanserhof was towards the end of the first wave of the Covid19 pandemic outbreak. As a clinic, Lanserhof Am Tegernsee remained open. All you needed was a test prior to your arrival and their medical certificate got you across the border control. This time I knew what to avoid (liver cleanse, spelt roll, bland soy and sheep yogurts, boiled german potatoes and headaches if you do not hydrate enough), so I enjoyed four days of bread and milk/yogurt fast (much easier than the full water fast). With a jet lag I did not want to weaken, but strengthen myself. Soon, I moved to the higher levels of nutrition to energise our stunning spring hikes, cycling around the lake, and proteins to build our muscles after strength training on the week two. We felt so clean and balanced, ready to face the world slowly opening up after the first wave of this global crisis.


Spiritual sensibility when fasting

Spiritual sensibility is elevated by fasting. As the body has nothing to digest, and the mind is tired, the spirit floats in a new dimension. If you reached the higher level state in meditation, then you may experience a similar sensation of lightness and nothingness.

hiking AlpsTegernsee Bavaria

For centuries, forcefully or voluntarily, for spiritual and religious reasons, people across diverse cultures have fasted. During the fast one not only gives up one of the life’s pleasures – food and alcohol – but cleans the mind from polluting emotions and cravings such as sexual desire. Your libido decreases when fasting, so do not take your lover on a fasting retreat.

For me the greatest lesson though was that my cravings do not equal my needs. They are rather a mind’s game seducing you more often than not on the wrong path. My relationship with food was illuminated, but I fasted only for three days, not enough to create a new habit or to change one’s mindset, so I slipped to my old ways once I travelled away. My lust for exotic foods again won over my reason, I am a sensual human after all.

Lanserhof Germany

It is recommended to undergo medically-supervised fasting for at least three weeks (I wrote about the potential health risks and detrimental re-toxificiation of the body after the fast if not done properly in this post). Lanserhof in Austria, Germany and Spain are ideally set luxurious medical fasting clinics where nature and local architecture support your resolve.

I am a creative sensitive person, so some of the spiritual sensibility was awakened in me sooner than with most people. As if the lack of food switched the lenses covering my eyes, I perceived my surroundings in a new profound depth. Every little detail resonated with my awareness in a greater sensation. There was silence in my heart. Perhaps it was that same tired feeling that helps with the flow of my writing right upon waking, or just the plain focus of slowing down.

faithChapel in the Bavarian Alps

I fasted at Lanserhof Am Tegernsee. Bavaria is traditionally a Catholic region. Painterly chapels adorn the lush pastures, rolling hills inspire gentle forest strolls, while monasteries and nunneries offer respite inviting into their calm, regimented seclusion. The situation itself shifts one’s awareness, even the mindset, yet there are other, eastern modalities that awaken your spiritual self at Lanserhof. Solemn or group meditation, resting in the privacy of our terrace lounge chair, alkalising baths, morning awakening in nature, sipping a warm brew by the fireplace in the spa or the lobby lounge, all raised the bar of my Spiritual sensibility.


Upon sunrise on misty morning the hills were coated in a dewy blanket so soft that I comfortably and trustingly yield to the moment. I felt so peaceful that I meditated without even intending. The sense of inner calm, away from the mundane and social distractions, untethered by rocking emotions opened my soul to a greater appreciation of pure existence. I entered into the realm of universal connection. Sometimes, I feel this when entering alone a chapel or some spiritually charged place like former sets of tribal rites, and even in some extraordinary natural space.

One evening, hesitant with a growling tummy, but curious as I often am I entered a gong bath.

I am not sure whether it was some very special energy in the room I shared with the other Lanserhof guests, but everyone seemed so peaceful after the hour-long sonoric experience. Perhaps it was just my mind going astray from the deprivation, but my fantasy got off the rails. While the gong vibrated through our bodies, my mind wandered into an adventurous and dangerous territory. Imagining fiery dragons following me as I struggled to escape some curtailed enemy, this time the gong did not comfort me, but roused unsettling emotions. Spiritual sensibility can be unpleasant. On the other hand, I also felt connected as if touching the hands of the others around me. I felt a very similar clairvoyant sensation when I meditated with monks in a temple in Luang Prabang.

crystal bowls

Gong in a yoga studio in Arizona

Back to the earth in Germany. This being Bavaria, the region of many great classical composers, Lanserhof hosts nightly diverse musicians and once per week a grand concert. Titled “Classics for the senses” a more formal setting does not take away the beauty of the sound. Just close your eyes and savor. I was lucky to enjoy my favorite piano sonatine by Maurice Ravel and Love’s Dream by Franz Liszt in that night’s repertoire.

The week soothed, recharged, cleaned and clarified my mind and body. I dream of returning. Until then I know I can awaken my spiritual sensibility every day in nature, during meditation or reading. And so can you. Life feels so much more when you are spiritually engaged.

Staying at the clinic and having many activities included in the stay, many guests overschedule their days with no downtime, but I did not feel that rest or time on my own was useless. The opposite — we restore from inside out and that is not just about physiological, psychological, but also a more connected spiritual care. Me time nourishes me as much as healthy movement, rejuvenating spas and balanced food.

Lanserhof: Psychological effects and struggles when water fasting

The Psychological effects of fasting are positive and negative. It is a battle of the inner elements. Firing up anger and lion’s roars, watered by foggy brain, thrown off guard by the winds of change and lazily bound down to the Earth. After the first challenging days, especially when under supervised care of a professional fasting clinic, it all dissolves into nothingness. One has to struggle before finding peace or hike in the Himalayas. Well, we cannot do the later often, so let’s learn how to manage the psychological effects and struggles when water fasting.

hiking in the Himalayas

Water fasting under medical supervision

I never thought I could do water fasting. I am one of those rare, always hungry skinny people that eat frequently and a lot. In fact, over 36 years I have never missed a one full day’s meal! I was curious how it feels not to be preoccupied with what my next mouthful will be. To feel ‘pure’ more in my mind, but also in my body. As a yogi I am aware of the importance of a regular purification to achieve a balanced mind-body state, the blissful union when time dissolves. So on my husband’s next trip to Lanserhof Am Tegernsee clinic, I joined in for a shorter version of the fast. 

Radka Beach in Monaco

Psychological effects when water fasting

While my strength and energy waned after only the first day, my spiritual senses were elevated while strolling slowly the rolling hills. Journaling in the navy blue notebook “My Life” that was compiled by Lanserhof to set you on a new path clarified some inner blocks.

Even a three-days-fast felt so enlightening. I did not feel zesty, and could not participate in any physical and intellectual activity in the afternoons, but my mornings were productive. On the last day of my water fasting I was able to hike 5.5 km up a steep mountain, while others took the cable car! Taking an ’emergency’ energy smoothie from my doctor with me safeguarded my scaling up, yet I did not need it. I couldn’t run or bike up but in a moderate pace, still passing other hikers, I walked myself up. I felt empowered. I needed to physically challenge myself after a few years of a gentle, post wrist injury recuperation. This worked.

Chapel in the Bavarian AlpsTegernsee Bavaria

Fasting mental struggles

Another mild complication appeared to be that I am a foodie, analyzing every dish in detail and elevate food above its fueling purpose with culture, travel and  creativity. Improvising at my home kitchen, I rarely push food away from my agenda. In fact, I get anxious without crunching on something for a while. Strangely, at Lanserhof my anxiety has diminished with every day’s passing. Getting beyond my comfort zone emotionally freed me. Like a magic pill for confidence (unlike that pint of my favourite pistachio ice cream, I devoured while writing this, that made me feel blissful but not confident) the fast had the same effect on me as deep meditation.

It taught me how our mind tricks us! Cravings are mighty tools of our emotions and our repeated thoughts enforce our behavior. Still, knowing does not mean doing, and I am back to my indulgent, yet mainly plant-based lifestyle. Like with meditation, the psychological effects of water fasting are short term. You keep that inner calm for a few days, perhaps, but you need to nurture the new feeling every single day. Most clients stay for three weeks, since this is the precise length required to form a new habit.

vegan ice cream

All three days I felt quasi-easy, my tummy was growling, and a foggy brain did not encourage any philosophical discussions. This is normal in the first few days of the fast as you hardly sleep. Also headaches can be very unpleasant. Particularly after some detox treatments like baths and saunas. I watered mine down, literally. Allegedly after the initial crisis and the body’s adjustment, the mind brightens and performs better than ever. I felt calm and alleviated headaches with additional hydration, so easy at Lanserhof where the local spring water gushes freely from all taps. I sipped on more liquids including the cosy warm herbal infusions each day than ever in my life. My favorites were the ginseng in the morning and barley, oatstraw or thyme in the afternoon. Indeed, I was fully in water fasting.

water fasting

Many composers, writers and other creative people have voluntarily fasted, hence my interest in how my mind will be affected furthered my resolve. I walked outside in the lush Bavarian hills every day after a meal or one of the liquid meal replacements. Composing poetry, contemplating beauty, it felt marvelous to bathe in the numerous forest paths surrounding the clinic. Once I got spontaneously into forest running, losing myself to the wild elements. I felt that this was my time, and that probably cleared the path for my creative work. I had to be flexible and sensitive to when my mind was open to cooperate. The elevated sensibility during a fast can assist with creative writing and other arts. Forget logical thinking.

This was a lesson to remember: Do not blame yourself ever, do not stir up guilt for what you should have done, it will come if you want it to come. Establishing the right, undisturbed environment for me-time is essential for anyone’s mental wellbeing.


There are however some psychological conditions that could be aggravated by fasting. These are drug addictions, depression and psychiatric disorders. Mental health is more fragile than physical health, therefore any change affects its stability profoundly. We need to work on our mind daily to find inner peace, joy and acceptance of life as it is. I am not sure if I could manage a longer fast purely for my mental balance, but if a serious health condition, proven to be improved by fasting, stroke my life’s path, I would definitely give it a chance under a supervised medical care.

If you can afford it, Lanserhof is the place to fast safely. (Staying at the original Lanserhof in the Tyrolean Alps near Innsbruck in Austria costs much less and the seasonal pricing varies a lot, so do not give up on medical water fasting due to its luxurious set up at Tegernsee)

Dr Loosen: making superb German Riesling with respect for the Mosel terroir

Ernst Loosen is ‘the king of German Riesling’. The well-known German wine producer won multiple awards that seal his persevering efforts to improve the image of German Riesling globally. Decanter, the leading British wine magazine rewarded Ernst Loosen’s efforts in 2005 when he was named the “Man of the Year”. In the US, Wine & Spirits added him to “The World’s 50 Most Influential Winemakers” in 2004. In his native Germany the Weinguide Deutschland awarded Dr Loosen the “Winemaker of the Year in 2001”.
Ernst Loosen awards for his wines in Mosel, Germany Dr Loosen vineyards
Plenty of honours proved his fitness as our guide through the most important German terroirs at a lecture in London (2012). Ernst Loosen explained with accompanying liquid samples the diversity of soils in some of the most significant wine regions in Germany and their influence on Riesling. Alerting us that “Terroir is not only soil”, pointing at the common misconception of most of the theory-skipping wine drinkers. To demonstrate how the annual weather fluctuations, winemaking techniques as well as the location of the vineyard (exposure to the sun, proximity to the water, geography, altitude, etc.) affect the vines and wine made from them, he brought his wines from different vintages, regions and also some bottles from his cousin Robert Weil.

Dr Loosen aka Ernst Loosen giving presentation on German terroir

Visiting Dr Loosen winery in Mosel

My second encounter with Ernst Loosen was this past fall at his estate in the Mosel, Germany. If you ever wander over, fly to Luxembourg as it is slightly closer than the busy Frankfurt airport. The infamous bridge made the travel to Frankfurt faster, but still it is better to fly from its EU neighbour.
On a damp, late fall afternoon after a hearty lunch at a local castle overlooking the mighty Mosel river valley, I visited Dr Loosen at his centuries old family house. His dog welcomed us with rattling tail, well behaved he spared us any jolly barks, just patiently waiting for his master before nesting comfortably on his master’s chair during our wine tasting. Antique furniture decorated the hall and the guest room where the winemaker hosts tastings personally. We were lucky, the globetrotting Riesling promoter, was at his home to share his characteristic humour and the stories from the worldly encounters. Connecting the theory from the workshop a couple years ago in London with the visual queues of the Mosel, my palate was illuminated further. The most prominent vineyards tail the Dr Loosen winery from the river up to the steep slopes of the rising Mosel valley.

Regions, soils and wines by Dr Loosen

Middle Mosel
Dr Loosen’s estates are located in the midst of the Mosel river valley. We tried his wines from two types of soil found there:

  • Blue Devonian slate: contains a lot of potassium, which is a natural fertiliser for vines, it is rich in minerals showing in the wine after a couple of years in the bottle.

The Mosel region has no danger of being struck with phylloxera. The soil is well-drained, steep, and its South-facing slopes in the proximity to the Mosel river protect the vines from cold nights because of the day heat is being held by the river’s water. The roots of the vines have to go deep into the soil to get what they need (water, nutrients) so the wines achieve excellent complexity.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Trocken, 2010: Just after the opening it shows an austere nose which is balanced slightly with a pleasant fragrance of peach. The palate is more rewarding with a strong backbone and high acidity, citrus and peach ending with a long aftertaste.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2001This late harvest Riesling was the youngest of the three Spätlese (late harvest) we have tasted, yet most of us would think it was the oldest one. Smelling it one wants eat it as it had aromas resembling a vanilla cake and eggnog. It is delicate and rich with exotic fruits, cream and cake taste.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 1991: Less showy on the nose, yet still some cake and touch of mushrooms. Delicate, concentrated, but more fresh resembling a light yellow fruit marmalade.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 1983: The lightest in colour from the London samples, but also tasting like the freshest one! After more than three decades in the bottle, a well-integrated wine with fresh breeze and button mushrooms on the nose. On the palate it shows more minerality and again vanilla, butter scotch and exotic yellow fruits. At just 8% of alcohol it is surprising how well this wine matures, proving that acidity and just right phenolic ripeness rule the ageing potential. Ernst Loosen recommends it with game.
After tasting these three wines vertically, I thought that this Riesling ages in reverse – into its youth!

  • Weathered red volcanic soil: produces intensely spicy, rich wines with an exotic veil.

Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Trocken 2010 Grosses Gewachs (Grand Cru): Würzgarten means ‘spice garden’ and this wine shows exactly that. White pepper, curry, cumin and other spices dominate the nose. Exotic fruits sweeten it up. Rose and peach petals, exotic spices and acidity showing in the long finish. The acidity is mellow and more integrated.


Pechstein vineyard – Loosen acquired it in 1996.

  • Black basalt stones: highly mineral giving wines a strong backbone necessary to carry the ripe fruit and full-bodied wines in Pfalz. The wines have a pronounced acidity according to Ernst Loosen.

Forster Pechstein Riesling Trocken 2010: Fresh and mineral nose shows youth. Balanced taste of apricot marmalade is freshened by high acidity and lime flavour.

Rheingau wines by Robert Weil:

Weingut Robert Weil – Grafenberg (Erstes Gewachs)
Weil is a a cousin of Ernst Loosen, known also as a great wine producer in Germany.

  • Phyllite interspersed with loess and loam: a very complex stony soil on the hill of Grafenberg designated as a Grand Cru (Erstes Gewachs in Rheingau). Mineral-rich type of slate giving complexity and intensity to the grapes.

Kiedrich Grafenberger Riesling trocken 2010 Erstes Gewachs: Full, mineral nose with floral and ripe fruit adding to complexity. Spices, exotic fruits (litchi, yellow mango) and high acidity (8.5 g/l) balancing the higher sugar level (11 g/l) bring the wine into harmony. Long finish assures a lasting pleasure from this complex Riesling.
Although, he is a grand fan of Burgundy, Ernst Loosen does not practice biodynamic or organic farming and winemaking, because of the challenges of the local climate he believes that for the wines to be great in the Mosel, a little help from chemistry is needed.
He was guided by the Prussian government’s 1868 vineyard classification map when he was deciding what to do with the vineyards he inherited almost three decades ago. Hence, learning from history can bring once famous wine star back to the stage re-gaining its Grand Cru classification. Read more about the global journey of Riesling in my previous post.

Good Bank in Berlin: a vertical farm to table restaurant

Good Bank is the first “vertical farm to table restaurant” in Berlin. Although, the Good Bank claims ” worldwide“on its website, but in the US and Asia there are now many restaurants equipped with the vertical hydroponic gardens. The German capital city is a paradise for foodies. In the last years lots of innovative restaurants, pop-up food stores and food based start-ups have swamped the city, reflecting the international flair of their residents. Good Bank perfectly filled the gap of fast, local and eco-businesses.

hydroponic lettuce

Fan lights are slowly rotating around the salad © Monika Thomasberger

Conveniently located just a five minute walk from Alexanderplatz, best known for the famous Fernsehturm (Television Tower), the casual eatery, Good Bank is unique with its concept of salad to plate. When stepping inside, one can immediately notice the high glass cabinets with fan lights slowly rotating around the shelves with green salad. Leaving a lab-like futuristic impression, unusual and eye-catching.
The Good Bank only opened at the end of this March but their salads, veggies and grains are popular not only with locals but also with tourists. They use carbon-neutral delivery guys who on bicycles ride off to the nearby offices. Behind the counter, Kat, originally from Canada, is preparing each bowl carefully, adding different salad leaves like kale, oak leaf or butter lettuce that were harvested just minutes ago. It cannot get more fresh than that!

A vertical hydroponic farm like at Good Bank reduces carbon footprint

The hydroponic vertical farm was installed by Infarm, a Berlin hybrid research lab for vertical farming. Surprisingly, the energy and water consumption for the entire farming plant is very low. The salads take between 20 to 28 days to grow in an optimised soil-free environment or hydroponics, a subset of hydroculture. This means that the lettuce plantation not only turns urban space into productive farms, they are also beneficial to our environment as no packaging is needed, and transport routes are rendered obsolete. Also the vertical hydroponic farm doesn’t need to use any herbicides, pesticides or genetically modified seeds. With the help of air circulation and not being rooted in soil, most diseases are markedly reduced. Good Bank even claims that their salads contain more nutrients than those from conventional agriculture.*

Good Bank in Berlin

© Monika Thomasberger

Mix and Match your bowl at Good Bank

I tried the “Salmon Dijon” salad with salmon, potatoes, radish, baby kale, red onions, spinach, broccoli, and Dijon mayonnaise. All salads based on one of the three lettuces farmed are available in small or large size. But you can also mix and match your own bowls with grains, meat or cheeses starting at €5.20 for a small size and €6.50 for a large one.
Desserts such as Rhubarb cake, Raw-chocolate cake or Almond oat cake between €2.50 and €4.50 are well priced. To quench your thirst, sourced from the local startups are around 13 different lemonades, infused waters and other drinks. Good Bank is still developing the menu, offering more desserts and pressed juices from yet another Berlin startup.

hydroponic farming cafe in Berlin

© Monika Thomasberger

It might get a little bit playful using the vertical farming at Good Bank as other ingredients still have to be delivered, but this concept gives us a glimpse of a more sustainable future of eating out. Vertical hydroponic farming can be a practical and innovating way to enrich our tables with the freshest plant foods.
*Note by the editor: More research on this is needed to prove it. What we know so far is that the soil or water (preferably mineralised water is used in hydroponics) in which the salad is grown affects more its nutrient density than do organic practices. Harvesting it right there next to your bowl or plate makes a difference as plenty of sensitive nutrients are diminished after being picked and with the contact with oxygen. Here is a great video on vertical hydroponic restaurants in the US, and on LMB we also featured the vertical farm at the K11 Mall in Shanghai.
Read about the author Monika Thomasberger more on our Contributors page.
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