Well yesterday was certainly all about the food.
I managed a hearty breakfast, a walk around the frozen Lake Zell and a stomach filling lunch at a lovely Austrian restaurant and an hour long session in the spa center. It was pretty much one of those, let’s see what happens days, no map and no itinerary.
I wanted to go to the Church whose bells had been waking us up regularly at seven every morning. It is a few minutes walk from our hotel and it is called St Hippolyt. It is a Catholic Church and it one of the oldest buildings in the town. I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed as Churches go, which was a surprise for me as I have always been fascinated by Churches and they have always been one of my go to places when I visit a new country. At first it was curiosity, fascination with the architecture and imagery of various Churches. In the short period of time when I was baptised and had a strong faith, Churches were an important place for me to worship. I would usually feel a sense of awe and some sort of ‘presence’. However in this Church, it felt empty and just simply devoid. Maybe I was projecting my own internal feeling, who knows? Maybe because we did not meet anybody going in or coming out. So while the architecture was interesting and the lighting was great, I could not stay for long, I could not even pray like I would normally do. Instead I took a few pictures, which I don’t normally do in such small places but somehow this time I felt I wanted to keep a pictorial memory because I knew I was not leaving with an emotional memory.
We then wandered a bit further away from the town centre and ended up at Lake Zell. This time we took a longer, slightly more icy walk around part of the lake. It was just as beautiful as yesterday. I’m still in awe of the surrounding mountains, majestic, solid and immovable. I still have not been up in the mountains yet and I’m not sure if I will do in the time we have left. I have a vague plan to use Nacho’s now non used lift pass and take in the views from above myself. However, it’s been two years since I been on a gondola and somehow I’m just not sure about venturing there by myself. Every time I think about it, I am filled with an attack of laziness and nerves. The thought of venturing out into the cold outdoors by myself is rather unappealing, when the alternative is either walking around at ground leave with Nacho or staying in the hotel lounge writing or reading a book on my Kindle. This was meant to be a no stress holiday and I am working hard for it to remain that way as best as I can.
When we walked back to the town centre, we decided to eat at one of the places that had been recommended to us by one of the hotel staff, Steinerwirt. It was a lovely place, appearing very traditionally Austrian but taking its place very firmly in the 21st century. I ordered another soup, this time Wiener Suppentopf: Tafelspitz, Gemüse, Nudeln which in English is Stock Pot Viennese: Beef, Vegetables, Noodles. It was very light and not overpowering at all in taste. I deliberately chose this because I was making sure I had space for the dessert that we had both ordered – Kaiserschmarrn. This is essentially a shredded pancake dish topped with a plum compote.
While waiting for the dish I did a quick Google/Wikipedia search on the origins of the dish. Like many things there are multiple historical claims. Here are three that I read in Wikipedia:
It is generally agreed that the dish was first prepared for the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I (1830–1916). There are several stories. One apocryphal story involves the Emperor and his wife, Elisabeth of Bavaria, of the House of Wittelsbach. Obsessed with maintaining a minimal waistline, the Empress Elisabeth directed the royal chef to prepare only light desserts for her, much to the consternation and annoyance of her notoriously austere husband. Upon being presented with the chef’s confection, she found it too rich and refused to eat it. The exasperated Francis Joseph quipped, “Now let me see what ‘Schmarren’ our chef has cooked up.” It apparently met his approval as he finished his and even his wife’s serving.
Another story is that Francis Joseph and his wife were traveling the Alps and stopped by a farmer’s home for lunch. The farmer was so nervous that he threw all the fanciest ingredients he had into a pan to make a delicious pancake; worse yet, due to his nervousness and shaky hands he scrambled the pancake. Hoping to cover up the mess he then covered it with plum jam. Luckily, the kaiser thought it was scrumptious.
Another popular tale is that his wife was a poor cook and couldn’t flip a pancake efficiently. She decided to play to her strengths and shred the pancakes altogether and would serve them up to the Kaiser on a regular basis with jam. He liked them with jam. It was his favourite dessert
Whatever the origin when the dessert finally arrived it was delicious and HUGE. I guess we should have taken note when, on giving our order the waitress said, ‘two spoons?’ and we said no, two dishes. When the pans arrived, we were shocked at the size. Mentally, because I already decided that I wanted to finish the dish, I just was able to eat the whole thing in one sitting without any feelings of discomfort. Nacho however got halfway through and then the waitress offered to box his remains (his food that is!) to take home with us. The waitress did finally confess that the portions we were served were larger that they would normally prepare, it appears that the chef was feeling generous that afternoon. I left the restaurant so full and content, I knew I would not be able to eat until breakfast but I was happy.
When we returned to the hotel , I had a little nap before heading to the Aquareena for a swim , jacuzzi and sauna. A nice end to the day – except for the disconcerting sight of a group of naked and semi-naked men wandering through the area. Although not unexpected , because it is advertised as a naked sauna, it was still just a bit too much for me. Especially when the one man who was naked decided to come out of the sauna looking for water and decided that he was going to get the top up from the jacuzzi that I was sitting in. I just closed my eyes willed him to go away as quickly as possible. I was thankful at that point that I did not have my glasses on, so could not really see anything of importance!