faire_4x6 Palmer's Lunch, Byesville Ohio Barnes Foundation Gallery Campers, Zanskar River

F is for Faschingskrapfen


Bad Aussee’s Mercedes Bridge. No.

The first time I visited the town of Bad Aussee, my brain fritzed out a little; irony wired city hipsters like me have a hard time processing a place where lederhosen and dirndls are common attire, even amongst the young. Bad Aussee is very pretty; it’s a spa town but it came to regional prominence as a center for the salt trade. It’s held on to tradition, though you have to over look the eyesore of a pedestrian bridge that’s in the shape of a Mercedes hood ornament. Bad Aussee has a very good bakery, the Temmel/Lewanadowsky, in a grand salon on the main square and they have a remarkable parade for Fasching, or Austrian Carnival.


F is also for ‘flinserl.’

There are a lot of traditions specific to Carnival in Bad Aussee. There’s a whole range of characters that march in the parade but the my favorite are the “flinserl” — they wear elaborately embroidered costumes that are covered in tiny mirrors. There are cross dressers and old witches in bundles of rags and the public gets into it too, showing up in all manner of costume.

Once, during Fasching, three drunk guys dressed in blue velvet Mozart costumes stumbled past my table in the beer garden. “I am Wolfi!” declared one of them. “Here is my autograph!” said another, and scribbled his name on my napkin. The third just swayed and giggled. That same day, a strapping lad, easily over 6 feet tall and sporting a blond wig and a dirndl, put his arm around me, and insisted we take a picture while he kissed me on the cheek. This was all early in the afternoon; I hear the debauchery hits quite the fevered pitch by the time the sun drops behind the mountains.

Fasching’s arrival is marked ahead of time by the appearance of faschingskrapfen. Krapfen sort of means donut, but it’s probably more accurate to say it’s fried dough — there’s another kind of krapfen that’s a deep fried rye flour pancake served with pungent local cheese. Fashingskrapfen The faschingskrapfen is a jelly donut, very similar but not exactly like the jelly donuts we get in the US. Here in Austria our faschingskrapfen come from a neighbor lady, she makes the very best ones — they never taste of the fryer, the dough is more like a brioche than an American donut, and I’d bet the jam inside them is home made.

Faschingskrapfen start showing up in late January, about two weeks before the holiday itself, which is February 17th this year. (2015). I’ve read that the faschingskrapfen was invented to use up the stuff you’ll be giving up for Lent — sugar, fat, any reason to live, but since this is Austria, of course they’re also attributed to a 1690’s Viennese pastry chef, Cäcilie Krapf. No matter. Faschingskrapfen will stick around until Carnival is over, and they’ll be replaced by pretzels for Lent. I don’t know from Catholicism and pastry history is rabbit warren of contrary information. But I do know from snacks, and I like pretzels and donuts, both.

A note on recent photos: I’m using a Samsung Galaxy III while here in Yurrup, and I gotta say, it’s not half the camera my iPhone 4s is. I’m hoping I’ll get a handle on it, but so far, I’m not impressed.

From the Archives: Welcome to the Working Week

I wish I could say that I spent my evenings in Salzburg dining in delightful little guest houses and strolling cobblestoned back streets, but I’d be lying. I spent the week working and when I was dull witted from sitting in the office, I went back to my hotel where I worked some more while watching MTV and the Simpsons in German. Okay, I did watch a documentary about badgers and two short films, one about street kids in India and the other about a girl in Cambodia who wants to be a dancer but loses a leg to a land mine.Talk about how media helps you gain perspective on your world.… continued...


A Lecture on How the Decline in Quality Baking is Your Own Damn Fault

Bakery GoodbyeDear valued customers,

We closed Backerei Klackl on August 15, 2011.

We could not continue to run our bakery without either raising our prices or compromising on quality and variety. We were not prepared to do either.

For more than 250 years there’s been a bakery next to this former toll bridge. For generations, this bakery followed baker’s guild standards and offered the residents of Bad Aussee the highest quality products.

In recent times, values have changed dramatically.… continued...

K is for Kipferl


Austrians like to claim they invented (fill in the blank) when it comes to food. Thing is, they once had such an extensive empire that okay, okay, the well known (fill in the blank) was probably conceived on their turf while they had that turf. Austrians claim the kipferl, the progenitor of the croissant, as their own, though in this case, if you accept that Vienna is the kipferl’s home, geography favors the Austrians.

In 1683, the city of Vienna was under siege by the Ottoman Empire.… continued...

T is for Topfenstrudel

strudelWe have had extended kitchen table discussions — in Austria and the US — about what, exactly, “topfen” is. I contend it’s ricotta, but the Austrians insist its something different. These state department level negotiations have not prevented topfenstrudel from appearing in my Seattle kitchen on numerous occasions, though said strudel has always appeared upon my return from an overnight or a long day out of the house. It’s as though my kitchen has been invaded by some kind of strudel producing elves.… continued...

E is for Eierlikörtorte


Johanneskapelle, Aigen

This part of the Ennstal is a river valley lined by a bunch of tiny villages. People have lived here for a good long time; the church just up the hill was established in the 1100s, but there’s still not much by way of urban — or even suburban — development. The bakery closed, and the post office and the shoe store moved into town. There’s a new cafe where the old cafe once was and there are a handful of traditional guest houses, some are pub style restaurants, a few are also small inns where you can get a room.… continued...

Ennstal Black and White


Schloss PuttererseeTop:  Campers stowed for the season in the Aigen campground.

Bottom: View towards Puttererschlössl from across the lake. Established in 1200, it was the seat of a fancy local land baron. Now, it’s a youth hostel.