Our destination this time was the Parnaud Alm. A walk through larch forests, surrounded by the Schnalstal glacier.
While the sun was shining in Vilpian, in Karthaus the mountain tops were covered with clouds. The concierge asked a local for directions, who also let him know that the cloudy weather was not ideal for the Pernaud Alm.
Fully motivated, the concierge his entourage began the 2:30h hike. But as soon as the first raindrops started to fall the motivation was gone. Stop. It is time to turn around.
In these mountains, but much further up, the Similaun Man was found, the mummy from the ice, also known as Ötzi. While it takes worse weather to end up as Ötzi, rain in the mountains isn’t to be taken lightly. It was high time for a change in plans. With lunchtime approaching the concierge decided to dine in a local restaurant.
Smoked char, roasted suckling pig with potato salad, tagliatelle with chanterelles, and of course, a good glass of wine.
With a full stomach the concierge visited the former Carthusian monastery of Monte degli angeli, where “strength lies in silence”. Enjoying the peaceful, absolute silence, the concierge found it difficult to return to Vilpian, where his telephone vibrates, and the reception bell rings.
The silence is very relaxing. Almost like a vacation.
The concierge considers himself a very lucky person, living, where other people come for holiday.
After the Concierge recently received fresh strawberries from the Willelehof, he promised farmer Paul that he would pay a visit to his farm. Not only out of curiosity and to assure himself that Paul’s cultivation was top of the line, but also as an excuse to get out of the office.
The concierge had already seen all kinds of farms, some with broken tractors in the front, scrap metal and machine parts scattered everywhere, with unsold apples being stored out front and a couple crates of pears rotting in between.
But once he arrived in Glanning, in Jenesien, at first the concierge was convinced he was at the wrong address. There should be a farm here, right? Instead, the concierge finds himself standing in front of a villa that could be straight out of Hollywood, with freshly mowed lawn and every pebble on the road precisely where it belongs. But a raspberry plantation right next to the villa confirms that this is indeed the Willelehof.
The plantation is in perfect condition and Pauls strawberries follow suit. He grows to types of strawberries, one in raised beds and one on the ground.
On the well-kept lawn stands Paul’s son, who is taking care of the tractor. Scrap metal and broken parts nowhere to be found.
Paul goes into detail about the strawberry market. His farm isn’t the only thing that impresses us, the taste of his strawberries does as well.
Out of nowhere we notice something strange! As we look across the strawberry fields we discover a hemp plantation in the middle of his fields!
Paul! Not for smoking, is it?
Paul assures us that his hemp is not suitable for smoking. This hemp is grown when changing fruit crops.
The Willelehof is in impeccable condition. After the visit we enjoy the landscape of Jenesien on a walk to the Jöchl-Almhütte, from where we continue to the Möltner-Kas, where we enjoy a light lunch.
Cabbage salad with roasted Speck and typical Vinschgerle bread.
Are we sure our appetite didn’t come from Paul’s hemp?
Above Bozen, at an altitude of 1200 meters, Paul and his wife have been running the Willelehof in Jenesien since 1996.
From June to September, strawberry season begins at the Willelehof. Paul and his family also produce raspberries and cherries on an area of one hectare each, which ripen from mid-July to the end of September.
We mostly serve the fresh Willelehof strawberries with ice cream. On weekends we use them to make "tartellettes aux fraises", pastries with strawberries and patisserie cream. Our homemade strawberry jam is also made from Paul's strawberries.
We can’t wait for him to harvest the first raspberries and cherries. What treats will we use them for?
Well, we harvest the chives, wash, and chop them and add browned sunflower seeds. Then we add a clove of garlic, a little grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt. Fill into jars and seal with seed oil.
Et voilà. Chives-pesto, perfect for pasta.
Time for a road trip. The Concierge loads a big quantity of wine from the Cantina Terlano into his truck, to deliver to the wine cellar of a good colleague. Then he continues towards Treviso, more precisely towards Roncade, on his own initiative, to visit the Bekeke winery, whose wines were created by Simone Maculan, agronomist, and oenologist.
The journey continues, with the aim of loading a pallet of Prosecco in Valdobbiadene and then continuing towards Belluno to buy new glasses.
After Belluno a short detour to the Dolomites, which are particularly beautiful in this early summer sunshine, and then back to the Sparerhof.
A detour that is strenuous but rewarding!
At least that was the plan...
From Terlan we take the A22 motorway in the direction of Modena; in Verona we leave the motorway and follow the road until the Oppeano exit. This is what the navigator indicates after all, and then... JUNCTION! abrupt braking, clutch and... Hello? The clutch won't work.
HI-VIS vest pulled out of the car drawer, safety triangle on the road and the next car-workshop called. With all these fine wines in the car... Fortunately, the depot where we wanted to bring the wines is only a few kilometres away. One phone call and one reloading later, the car is still in the same place, but at least without load.
At lunchtime, the car is at the mechanic and the concierge is busy with phone calls to postpone or cancel appointments, a trip to the Dolomites? Impossible.
Lunch consists of a porchetta sandwich and a glass of Soave in the green of the Veronese hinterland.
The emergency plan was to stay overnight in Verona and continue the planned tour the next day after the car was repaired. However, as shops, restaurants and maybe even hotels might be closed during the Corona pandemic, it was best to return that day by regional train. Verona - Bolzano.
Two days later: return to Verona. This time with the Freccia Argento, the Italian version of the Shinkansen, the Japanese super-fast train. In the meantime, the car was repaired in the workshop. As good as new.
The concierge returns to the wine depot, hundreds of pallets of wine are stored here ready for dispatch.
In a corner, a treasure chest:
Many bottles, individually and carefully packed. One label in particular strikes the Concierges eye: Château d'Yquem, 1944. The bottle is in mint condition. It has been carefully stored under optimal conditions, temperature and humidity constantly controlled, for many years. Price at the appraiser? About 10.000€
I wonder who they're selling it to. A rich American? A Russian oligarch? Or maybe a scratch-off winner?
Hah! On closer inspection of the Sauterne bottle, the fill level seemes to be slightly lower than it should be. That wouldn’t fly with a new one.
I wonder who'd want to drink it now. Maybe we'll find out.
Spinach and ricotta for the "Schlutzkrapfen"
The concierge recently drove to Lana, which is only a few kilometres from the hotel and where, purely by chance, a farmers' market sells produce on the central street of the village.
When the concierge noticed fresh spinach, he did not hesitate for a moment and made his first purchase. He continued to the concierge's favorite dairy farm, cheese was already on the shopping list and all he needed for his personal favorite meal was ricotta cheese.
Arriving at the hotel, the concierge, wearing the typical Tyrolean blue apron, started to prepare the dough and the filling.
All that was missing now was sage and butter. Local butter and self-grown sage. Some chives and voilá.
"Schlutzkrapfen", dumplings, "Kaiserschmarren", apple strudel... What is your favorite dish? We are curious!
The other day, to stretch his legs (wearing a mask of course, if social distance could not be guaranteed, which was not the case), the concierge walked along the Adige river. Not along the cycle path, but along the riverbank.
Along the embankment the elderberry is in full bloom. At this sight, the various uses of elderberry immediately came to his mind. In his childhood it was a tradition to cut off a branch and make flutes and small pipes from it.
Grandmother always said that you should always bow twice to an elderberry plant. Elder is so healthy that it was also called the poor man's pharmacy.
What the concierge remembers most was the refreshing elderberry juice. A delight on hot summer days.
So, the small, white, star-shaped blossom wildly growing along the riverbank was plucked and used to make elderberry syrup.
And now that the lockdown has been lifted and the measures have been relaxed, we can open the bar again and serve our delicious homemade elderberry syrup.
Water, sugar, citric acid, elderberry, lemon, and organic oranges.
Tasty elderberry juice. Just in time for summer.
#Iorestoacasa continues and the concierge uses the time to clean the attic. Between a lot of wastepaper and objects that will go directly to the recycling centre, there are also some interesting things. A collection of notes, sketches, notebooks and books that should not be lost under any circumstances.
If we look through these books (since we have time for that right now), we discover that one of them is all about cheese. And in South Tyrol we have a large selection of cheese.
On these pages Mrs. Johanna from the Hotel Management School Kaiserhof in Merano lists all the different types of cheese:
1. low fat cheese
2. a quarter-fat cheese
3. semi-fat cheese
4. three-quarter-fat cheese
5. fatty cheese
6. full-fat cheese
Seventh cream cheese:
8. double cream cheese
And then explains how to serve it correctly:
1. the cheese must be taken out of the fridge in time
2.Select the cheese accordingly to menu and taste...
3. etc. etc.
But now comes the point our concierge is interested in.
Under garnishes, with which the cheese can be served, the following can be found:
pears or apples
So finally, we have an answer to the question what can be done with the remaining apples in our refrigerator: Apple chutney.
Now we just need a recipe. Maybe in one of these old books?
From an old cookbook from the hotel management school:
Wash and peel the apples and then cut them into small pieces.
Cut the onion into slices.
Put the sugar in the pot and caramelise it with wine and water.
Add apples and onion and bring to the boil with cinnamon, ground black pepper and chilli.
Then pour the mixture into glasses and let it cool down.
Do not forget to label the glasses, or otherwise you might confuse them with the breakfast jam!
The last box of apples of the 2019 season is gone. When the chutney is ready to be served with the cheese, the concierge will document it here on this blog.
The apple is in the undisputed centre of our region. Everywhere you look, apples surround us. So of course, our fridge was full of them. And so, due to the lack of work that is currently going on, the concierge was forced to take on a new task. That of apple peeler.
Just like in the old days. The concierges recommended apple compote is the original recipe of Burgl form Völlan. In former times there were no refrigerators or freezers. It was necessary to preserve the apples as well as possible just in ordinary glass jars. So that the apples stayed good all year long.
So, here is how you do it:
Wash the apples well and cut them into eighths, do not forget to remove the stalk and core.
Fill the preserving jars, which you have previously washed with very hot water. When the jars are full, add water, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise.
At this point, preheat the oven to 150, place the jars on a high baking tray filled with water, also called "bain-marie“, and let it bake for 10 minutes.
After this time, you can take the jars out of the oven and let them cool down with the lid down so that they are sealed naturally.
Once cold, it is time to enjoy a perfect apple compote. Perfect for your and our breakfast buffet.
There is still one box of apples remaining in our fridge.
I wonder what the concierge will come up with tomorrow?
Apple jam is the answer.
Answer to our question what we should do with all our remaining apples.
Here’s the recipe:
Wash your apples, cut them into quarters, remove the stills and seeds
Cook over low heat, adding a good drop of cider (ours is from a local producer in a neighbouring village), for about twenty minutes until soft.
Pass the apples through a strainer, weigh the mash and add about half its weight of gelatine sugar.
Boil everything for another ten minutes.
In the meanwhile, the preserving jars must be sterilized with boiling water.
Finally, fill your sterilized jars with the apple jam, after which they just need to cool down.
As soon as room temperature is reached, the jam is ready for our/your breakfast buffet.
In his youth, the concierge has learned as a kitchen assistant. He would never have thought that this knowledge could still be useful after all these years.
During this time of #Iorestoacasa, or “I’m staying home” the concierge is forced to take a break from his guests. Instead, the takes care of the garden during the absence of the public.
Stay home and
Christmas dinner. A sweet tadition, the perfect occasion to reunite the whole family.
For an evening the concierge was able to take a break from all clients and focused solely on his family.
Merry Christmas to everyone. And maybe he is able to do the same thing on New Year's?
Recently the Hoteliers' Association organised a conference.
The speakers talked about inns as the centre of daily life.
Very interesting was the speech of Fr. Hermann-Josef Zoche (Fr. Augustino), theologian, philosopher and business consultant.
Afterwards it was the turn of the president of the hotelier’s association, Manfred Pinzger.
And finally, after all the speeches, a wine tasting of the passionately produced wines of 224 winemakers began.
At the end of the evening we remembered the excellent wines we tasted, but I am not sure if I remember the president's speech!
Was it important?
The Rittner Christmas markets… or at least that was the plan.
A visit to the Bozen Christmas Market and a short walk through the arcades. Then to Ritten by cable car to see the breath-taking landscape of the Dolomites. And finally, the Christmas market of Klobenstein.
After arriving in Klobenstein we desperately searched for the stalls and… Oh no!
The market was closed and won’t open before next weekend!
Lunch at the Gloriette Guesthouse. Stylish ambience with an excellent menu. We chose a bruschetta with Culatello ham, a curry apple soup with prawns and then braised octopus with olives and saddle of veal with mashed potatoes.
And for dessert, a chocolate tartlet with gingerbread.
When our stomach was full, the Rittner cable car brought us back to the summit, where we waited a few steps further at the new train station to take the bus home, where the concierge entertained his guests by telling them about a wonderful day at great heights.
Moral of the story: No calorie counting during Christmas.