Once again fall is here and it remains my favorite season. While I don't particularly like having to go from sandals to boots, I do appreciate just about everything else about this time of year. All of a sudden there are pumpkins in the stores, something I always take advantage of for making things like pumpkin bread or pumpkin risotto. Going for a hike and enjoying the changing leaves is a true pleasure. The restaurants start to serve venison which, paired with cranberries and chestnuts, is a wonderful thing. Cozy evenings at home on the couch with a glass of red wine, with friends or just the two of us...lovely. Fall is a season I love here in Austria as well as back in Texas. What do you like about fall?
Monday, September 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Anyone who knows me well knows I'm not particularly fond of heights. That being said, I still got a kick out of taking the chair lift up to the town (village?) of Vellau in northern Italy last month. We'd discovered a wonderful restaurant there during our hike two days earlier and just had to return, this time by air. I was brave enough to pull out my camera during the ride, both up and down, and even managed to snap a few pix. Here we're headed back down to the town of Algund. What a view!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
A couple of weeks ago a fellow blogger included me in a photo challenge which I'm just now getting around to. In the meantime, however, I've had a visitor from the States and anyone who lives abroad knows how everything else (yes, even blogging) gets pushed to the side when family is in town. Anyhoo, here's the photo from my files that ended up being posted. It's a shot from our balcony taken back in February 2005 (with an older camera, I might add). This is a scene we often enjoy between November and April in the Alps, although by the time April rolls around "enjoy" may not be the most appropriate word. I'm happy to say that our scenery has now changed to green pastures, lazy cows, wildflowers and apple blossoms. In fact, I think I'll go sit on the balcony and enjoy all of that as long as the sun is still shining.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Living in the Alps is a dream for cheese lovers and I consider myself one of them. Sure, I always liked cheese, but life in Austria has taken me to a whole new level of cheese appreciation. There's your Bergkäse (mountain cheese), Sura käse ("sour" cheese), goat cheese, sheep cheese, Appenzeller, Tilsiter, Greyerzer...the list goes on and on. Cheese is so versatile. You can cut it into cubes to enjoy with some fruit or salami. You can make fondue for dipping. You can drizzle some honey on it and let it melt in the oven, then spread the tasty combination on bread. There's really no limit and I love exploring the different ways to enjoy this culinary delight.
Recently, I started teaching English at a local cheese company. The head of production is one of my students - what luck! Halfway through the first lesson he asked me if I liked cheese. After registering my enthusiastic nods, he left the room and promptly returned with rolled up slices of mountain cheese and his new, not yet on the market, baked cheese crackers, made only of 3 different mountain cheeses and bread crumbs. Heaven! During the second lesson he merely looked at me and asked, "Cheese crackers?". By the third lesson, a package was already waiting on the table and I thought to myself, "This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
If someone told me I had to make a choice between giving up chocolate for the rest of my life and giving up cheese, you can probably guess by now which one would go. Time for me to get some lunch - think I'll give those Swiss-cheese-stuffed tater tots a try. Don't wait for me.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Man, I'm a terrible blogger! I don't even want to know when my last post was. But here's the latest.
The other day in one of my lessons my student (and friend) Evi was talking about some of her co-workers. One of them is from Germany and is named Dirk. Now, apparently it wasn't even necessary to mention his country of origin because over here, Dirk is quite simply a German name. I did not know that. Yes, she told me, anyone named Dirk, Detlef or Uwe is obviously German. I have to admit that I haven't met many people in Austria with those names so I guess she's right. I just never thought about it before. When you're from the USA, anything goes. Growing up I had friends with names like Carrie, Sejal and Tameka, not necessarily names that you'd be able to identify as strictly "American". Which brings me to a question - is there such a thing as a typical American name? And what about Austrian names? Last names are one thing. In Vorarlberg you can often tell which town someone is from by his or her last name (yes, really). But I'm not so sure about first names. That's something I need to research.
What does your name say about your roots?
Monday, March 8, 2010
I've taken to reading recipe blogs and websites in the hopes of finding new and interesting ideas. In doing so I've learned NEVER to read these in the middle of the afternoon when lunch has already been digested and dinner is still a few hours away. Some of these people are so talented in their ability to describe and photograph the steps in the cooking process.
But now on to the subject of the day...Bugles! I just got through reading the latest post on David Lebovitz's site where he talks about "Amnesty cookies", a cookie recipe that uses any leftover snacks you have in your pantry. And his made use of Bugles. I'm sure you remember these pointy corn chips that look like little dunce caps. When I was a kid I loved to play with (and eat) these salty snacks, but I hadn't had them in many, many years. Can you believe I actually found Bugles in Austria? And not only the original Bugles, but also nacho cheese flavored Bugles. Every now and then when I decide to treat myself to something American, I'll pick up a bag of these.
In the process of reading the comments people had posted on Mr. Lebovitz's site (www.davidlebovitz.com), I discovered something fantastic. Apparently in Belgium people eat Bugles like little ice cream cones, using them to scoop up soft goat cheese. What a wonderful idea - that I have to try. And if anyone else beats me to it, let me know just how good it is. I have the feeling grocery stores in the US will soon discover big gaping holes on the shelves where the Bugles are sold. Enjoy and feel free to share your own Bugles experiences in the comments!
Monday, February 1, 2010
So, maybe winter hasn't really been gone at all and it was actually just me who was gone (from home and from blogging). I spent the holidays in Texas where winter can throw just about anything at you, including snow. But Houston snow just isn't the same as alpine snow. As a Houstonian, I rarely had the opportunity to drive in real winter conditions. There was that one morning back when I was in high school where I can vaguely recall having to drive on ice, but that was just a cup full of ice cubes someone spilled on the ground compared with what I've been dealing with in Austria this winter!
The first year I spent in Austria was a real learning experience. At the end of October, after having been there for just 3 months, my guy mentioned that he thought we needed to change the tires on my car. I countered by saying I thought the tires were fine and would probably last me another couple of years. That's when he informed me about snow tires. What a concept! Never heard of those before. But now every November the summer tires have to be exchanged for snow tires and the opposite is true in April (usually after Easter because nature will inevitably surprise us with snow for that holiday). And because my man is who he is, we (or mostly he, to tell the truth) do this work ourselves. And I am truly grateful to have tires that make it a little less scary to drive on snow and ice. But God fobid I should ever have to deal with chains!! If the weather ever gets that bad, I'm just going to lock myself up inside and enjoy the wintry landscape from my safe and cozy apartment, wrapped in a fleece blanket and sipping a cup of hot chocolate because anything else would just be asking too much of this Texas gal.