Sunday Snapshots: La Verna in the Mist

Tuscany, 2013

Tuscany, 2013

If one is going to visit the La Verna Sanctuary, might I recommend not doing it on a hot summers day? Instead, go in January. But only if it’s misty, mysterious, and if you have proper time to wander through the forest and around the buildings, wondering if the monks get the same eerie feeling that you do.

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A Day With the Bowling Bus, -or- How I Learned That I’m Not Really Old Yet

Have you ever had one of those days when you looked around and weren’t sure how you got there? I had one of those very recently, on our quick trip down to South Tyrol.

Where was I when I had these thoughts? Well…

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Sunday Snapshots: Waterfront

Lake Garda, 2015

Considering that we just got through the Pentecost holidays, I’m guessing I’ve heard about Lake Garda somewhere between one and 10,000 times in the last month. It’s an extremely popular destination for Bavarians since you can get there in less than five hours. While I would’ve loved to get there again this year, I’m consoling myself with the thought that we leave for our summer vacation in a few days…

Sunday Snapshots: Lights

Lake Garda, 2015

Lake Garda, 2015

You know what I miss? Italy. Was that not obvious?

Slowly walking along the edge of Lake Garda after a fantastic dinner, searching for a still-open gelateria, finding that PLUS finding a outdoor bar/cafe with a live band playing blues rock*…. Oh my goodness. So wonderful.

*In my opinion, finding anyplace with live music that involves zero DJs is cause for excitement.

Sunday Snapshots: Roman Layers and Lines

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The forecast for the next few days in Germany looks snowier than our entire winter put together, so I thought it would be appropriate to see a bit more sun. My visit to Rome was pretty action-packed, and even in February it was warm enough to enjoy walking the city without a winter jacket. The bundled-up Romans might have disagreed with me, but coming from Germany it felt like a tropical vacation!

Weather aside, I love this photo because it represents so much of what I felt about Rome. It’s old, it’s new, it’s layers upon layers of history and thousands of stories. The people-watching is a sport unto itself, and you can hardly turn a corner without seeing something interesting. Or a cat. There are cats everywhere. And really, isn’t that what we all want?

Sunday Snapshots: Tuscan Streets

In an effort to share more of the many, many, many photos I take everywhere I go, this year I’ll be joining many other bloggers in sharing one picture every Sunday. Many people do a ‘Silent Sunday’ post, but since I have the inability to not write at least some sort of context, I won’t do that. I’ll try to keep it short though. After all, it’s Sunday in Germany and I shouldn’t be working anyway. 😉

Tuscan streets.

Tuscan streets.

Today’s photo was taken three years ago today* after a long walk over the Pratamagno. Unsuccessful in our quest for an open restaurant, we stopped in a random village to find streets empty save for their Christmas lights. Don’t worry though, we managed to buy a feast of Italian bread, meats, and cheeses to tide us over until dinner time.

 

*I’m also going to try to do photos taken in the same month and on the same day, if possible. Because I enjoy making simple things more difficult.

Memorable Meals: Winkelkeller

Just a few minutes ago I was engaged in the tedious task of making copies for my class tomorrow. In between pushing the copy button every 30 seconds, and pushing aside the accumulated junk that is forever on our “desk,” my eyes wandered to the new corkboard that BV hung on the wall. It took a moment for me to recognize the pictures on the little card that was pinned there, but a second later I was transported back to one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had.

Back in May and after a day of hiking up and down the mountainsides that surrounded us, BV and I showered and walked our aching legs into Toblach in search of dinner. We were ravenous, and I was fairly set on trying the food at the Winkelkeller. We had actually tried to go there the first night we arrived, but although the bar was packed and music was playing, they weren’t fully open yet. That was only their opening party, and while we were welcome to have a drink, they couldn’t feed us then. BV wasn’t too sure about the place, but judging from the enthusiasm of the crowd, the ambiance, and the picked-clean plates of finger food that were lying about, I had a good feeling about it.

We arrived at the restaurant at about 7:30, slightly paranoid that they would either be 1) already full, or 2) completely reserved. Instead, it was nearly empty (though not for long), and we were quickly ushered to a table.

Side note: going from Germany to Italy, even predominantly German-speaking Italy like South Tyrol, is such a shock to the system. You mean we can eat past 8 pm? The kitchen doesn’t shut down at 10? We can arrive at 7:30 and basically be the early-bird special people? Woohoo!

In other words, we were ahead of the game. However, that gave us the opportunity to admire the cozy side room that we were seated in. When we tried coming the day before, we had sat ourselves on the other side of the restaurant, which was decorated in a very Alpine-style. Think lots of wood, red accents, and a big Kachelofen (see previous post) dominating the room. This time, our curved-ceiling room really put the Keller (cellar), in Winkelkeller, if your cellar is this nice, anyway…

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A basket of fresh bread arrived promptly, and the very young-looking owner* in Lederhosen came to take our drink orders. After a brief consultation with him, BV selected a bottle of Cabernet that was so good that it turned into two bottles.

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Now that might sound like a lot, but apparently it was smart of us to get it while we could. BV has since tried to order more wine from the Alois Lageder vineyard, but out of the fifteen varieties of it listed on belvini.de, only one is available. We got two bottles with our last delivery, but we may have to make a pilgrimage to the winery and beat down the door to get more. It was fruity, velvety, and incredibly delicious. Plus, bio!

Perusing the menu, we both got a bit excited. Everything looked good and narrowing down our choice was not going to be an easy task. But since we decided to make this BV’s birthday dinner, we figured we’d go all out.

It was a bit chilly that day, so we both decided to start with a soup. Mine was (I think) a squash curry with apple, and skewers of shrimp. BV had a cheese/beer soup with croutons. Both were wonderfully flavorful, and an excellent way to start the meal.

 

While we ate our soup, the rest of our room filled around us. I was happy that I had taken a few photos beforehand, as there wasn’t an empty table for the rest of the night. Like us, every table was filled and every guest seemed content to enjoy a long meal, a few drinks, and the excellent service.

With the next bottle of wine, our main courses arrived. BV had selected lamb in hay, with sides of roasted potato and zucchini. I’m not a lamb-eater, but he assured me that it was the best lamb he had ever had. If his face while eating it was any indication, it was really that good.

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For my main, I had selected black pasta stuffed with goat cheese. I had literally no idea what the hell “black pasta” meant, but here it was…

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I have since learned that black pasta is usually made with squid ink, so I’m assuming that’s what this was. This is probably a case of “things I’m glad I didn’t know beforehand,” because I probably wouldn’t have ordered it and I am oh so glad that I did. These pockets of deliciousness were stuffed with goat cheese, and topped with tomatoes and arugula, as you can see. But the sauce was what made it something special. I would guess that there was some kind of liqueur, perhaps amaretto, involved, as it had a syrupy sweetness that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It was amazing, and if we go back to the Winkelkeller and this is still on the menu, it’s going to be hard to try something different!

After a pause for digestion, we turned our attention to the dessert menu. Because, when in Italy, right? We selected a mixed plate, involving a wee chocolate cake, and magical triangles of tastiness… that’s all I can say five months later, sorry.

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To be honest, I’m amazed I even got a picture of the dessert course considering at that point we were totally full but still wanted to eat all the things that came out of that kitchen. I do remember the berry sauce was almost enough to make us lick the plate. Almost.

Finally though, there was nothing left to eat and the wine was gone. We paid the bill while having a hay Schnapps at the bar, and embarked on the full-bellied walk home. A memorable meal indeed, and I do hope that we can get back there before too long. I guess what I’m saying is, if you are in Toblach/Dobbiaco, go here!

Winkelkeller**

Graf-Künigl-Straße/Via Graf Künigl 8,
39034 Toblach/Dobbiaco

*Our Airbnb host thought that the restaurant was under new ownership. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but the owner was our waiter, and the chef was at the bar at the end of the night. They both looked to be maybe 30, so if they just took over this place, good on them.

**Website only in German/Italian.

A Slightly Random Story About Slightly Random Things

Once upon a time, BV and I were in South Tyrol and slightly concerned about finding dinner. Though it was raining slightly, we followed the signs out of our village to check out a restaurant and see if it was open yet. The restaurant was called the Enzianhütte, which seemed promising, as both Enzian and Hütte are good things.

Enzian, pre=Schapps

Enzian, pre-Schapps

Slightly more than a kilometer down the road, we found the restaurant… slightly closed. But across the road from the restaurant, we found something slightly more random. Click away to see what….

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