Food, Lifestyle, Recommendations, Travel

Our first day in Stuttgart, Germany


Safe to say, last week was one of the most memorable weeks of my entire life. Yeah I’m serious. I’ve also learnt a lot, about things like perfected hospitality, and been reminded of the importance of hard work and dedication – two things that just never fail.

Although I have absolutely no clue how to give it all justice, I’m going to attempt to take you through my trip to the Monkey47 distillery in Black Forest, Germany. And a whole lot other good stuff, too…

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Hat Cityhats, coat Pinko, bag Valentino, boots Dr Martens

First of all, many of you have asked me why I went to Germany. Or what the purpose was of my trip. Monkey47 reached out to me a little while ago, and asked if I like gin and if I’d be interested in coming to Germany with them. Simple as that. Pretty sure my blog had a lot to do with it, in case you’ve not figured by now… It was an honour to be invited, and an even greater honour to spend a week with Alex Stein, founder of Monkey47, and his team.

The trip started with a late night Lufthansa flight. Kelvin, Gauri, Priyanka and I all synced up at the local airport bar in Mumbai, for a couple of glasses of wine and a brief pre-departure catch up before boarding. We were flying economy, but got this much extra legroom. Thanks Lufthansa! Sadly the food was quite bad, but the legroom did sort of make up for it…

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Once we boarded the flight, I passed out almost instantly. I slept for 6 or 7 hours straight, then woke up to read the latest British Vogue and learn about ‘sisu’, which is one of my favourite words…

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My mom is half Finnish, and her and my grandmom have always told me to find the ‘sisu’ in me when things get tough. ‘Sisu’ is the strength of will, determination, perseverance, and the ability to act rationally in the face of adversity…

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Once we landed in Stuttgart, our entire crew met up at a breakfast bar, for…well, pretzels and breakfast beer, of course…

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This is the time I met people like Rasna, Aditya, Karina and Priyanka for the first time. We had never met before this, and I’m pretty sure we all farewell this trip with a new longtime friends to take with us. Thanking Monkey47 for that.

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We shared pretzel and salami sandwiches, and discussed expectations and excitement for the upcoming trip. I spent an hour trying to activate my international roaming and calling plan with Vodafone. Remind me to switch from Vodafone to Jio this week?

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A delayed flight and two bus rides later, we boarded a tiny aircraft that took us for a 30 minute flight between Stuttgart and Munich. What later turned out to be a 2.5 hour train ride, took literally 45 minutes tops from ground to ground in an airplane. I know its 2018 but aviation stuff still really amazes me. Anyway.

Upon reaching Munich, we headed straight to Le Meredien to drop our bags and get changed for the day…

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I was using a relatively new suitcase from Rimowa, and the code lock somehow changed on its own, and locked me out of my bag. Two full-grown German men and a screwdriver later, and my bag was forcefully opened (and broken). Rimowa must be the most expensive yet crappy suitcase brand ever? Still love them because they make such pretty suitcases, but after receiving multiple messages on Instagram from people saying they’ve had similar experiences with Rimowa, I think I’m done with them. Pretty doesn’t make perfect, after all.

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At this point of the day, the temperature had dropped to -13, and we were off to lunch to meet the German team. Who are all absolutely fantastic, by the way.

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I had weiner-schnitzel and beer – welcome to Germany, basically. Almost everyone else had a beef steak, with some German traditional pasta and grilled onions. I wasn’t sure what to make of it…

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After lunch we grabbed some coffee and headed off to the Monkey47 store in Stuttgart. If you’re ever in Stuttgart, this place is a must-visit. It’s a super cool bar with influences from their Black Forest distillery.

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Here you can buy their gin, but also things like their handmade cups, homemade honey, and traditional pickled onions. I bought a full box with gin and ceramic cups which I mailed off to Sweden for my mom – she’s turning 55 next week, and she loves gin. I can’t wait for her to try it.

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At the shop we got to be a part of a bartender training workshop, where all local bartenders showed up for a session on ‘why Monkey47’. It was incredibly inspiring to hear Zach speak about this, who had come all the way from Singapore for the occasion. While they spoke about their natural ingredients and the distillery process, we were served slo-gin with soda (more on what that is later) and gin-tonics.

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We spent nearly two hours at the shop, discussing gin, the beauty of Monkey47, and hung out with the team. I don’t think I’ve ever engaged with a brand who has such passionate, happy employees. They literally live and breathe Monkey47, and before we even visited the distillery the next day, I kind of already knew what Monkey47 is all about. The level of perfection and attention to detail that goes into each step of the production process. The respect it has for its local ingredients. The way they all know and value the selective and highly regarded brand that it is, but at the same time never take themselves too seriously. The product is so good, they don’t have to try and prove it. They rely on showing their gin as a central part of an entire experience and lifestyle, not just in a glass in a tasting room or through a nice online review.

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This vibe continued to shine through throughout the day. We shopped away at the store, and in addition to the gin-box I got for my mom, I got a bunch of bottles, honey and pickled onions to bring back for Saif and I and our friends.

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We went back to the hotel for a quick nap and shower at some point. I was cold to the bone, and took the longest, warmest shower to get back to normal temperatures.

A couple of hours later, dinner was planned for us at an old butcher shop turned event space. The venue had a bit of a homely home-vibe to it, while we were greeted with cocktails and gin-chicken-soup at the door, and meatballs with horseradish and mustard as a second round…

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Then it was time for us to meet Alexander Stein, or Alex, for the first time. Founder of Monkey47 – more about this brilliant man later. He welcomed us to Stuttgart and Germany, introduced us to Monkey47, and joined us for a fabulous meal…

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Herring and potatoes for starters. Unfortunately, being Swedish and all, I’m not a herring-fan, but nevertheless I heard it was excellent from the rest of the crew.

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The main course was an excellent piece of grilled salmon with hollandaise and white wine risotto. It was as delicious as it sounds and looks, if not better.

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For dessert, we got to eat the most incredible thing. I can’t even remember the name of it, but I’ve messaged the team to ask for it… It was something similar to an apple cake, but way more delicious.

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I hear rumours that we may be able to eat this at a secret Bombay restaurant soon – look out for something with the name ‘Monkey’ including apples at a menu near you… It was so good, and I’m not even a dessert person…

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After a long first day and night, we all wrapped up around midnight. I came home to a cozy hotel room and crashed before I even had the change to put the light out. Exhausted beyond belief, and so impressed by the welcome we received on our first day of the trip!

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