Autumn Traditions and Time Travel – part 1

We met at dusk on the evening of our first meeting.  Leonhard “Hartl” Markhauser of Fischhausen, a local farmer, and his father Joseph “Sepp” Markhauser kindly collected me and then drove through the dark foggy forest to meet Anna Deutschenbaur the Sennerin, herder and cheese maker for the Rainer-Alm. Anna met us at the door of her cozy wooden cabin on that chilly night and welcomed us inside. The smoky scent of a fire burning in the ancient wood stove coupled with gentle clanging of bells from the cow stirring sleepily in the stall attached to rear of the cabin was entrancing. After a quick tour we settled down to begin learning about each other and how to make the paper decorations that are affixed to the individual head pieces (Buschen), which the lead cow wears when returning to the valley.

The 23-year-old Anna, caregiver by trade, has been able for the past 2 years to take a 4 month break in the summer to perform her role as the Sennerin for Rainer-Alm. Rainer-Alm is located 1240m above Neuhaus and Fischhausen. Her Alm Hütte or mountain cabin has no electricity, no TV and no Internet. She is kept busy with making her many varieties of delicious cheeses and butter with only a radio and her 2 young frisky cats as company. We were blessed to enjoy a platter or Brotzeit of these beautiful cheeses as well as some local smoked pork. I have to admit her dry aged mozzarella with herbs was a favorite as well as her chili spiced Alm cheese.

On our second meeting Hartl and I once again hopped into the jeep and drove up the mountain this time stopping along the way near the top.  From there we rambled up a washboard side of a hilltop pasture to gather Almrausch a very important plant for the Almabtrieb tradition. The Almrausch or Alpine Rose is used in bunches to decorate many head pieces and also to cover the leather straps on the harnesses which hold the head pieces . This plant is a variety of rhododendron and it is approximately a three inch sprig of new growth which is picked and when perfect will have a rich green color. It can also have a  slight reddish blush and resembles a rose bud pattern.
Proudly armed with our bags of Almrausch, the result of 2 hours of picking while gazing way down the mountain on our picturesque Leonhardi Chapel, as it was aglow with the setting sun, we returned once more to Rainer Alm. On this visit we selected the best of the Almrausch and gathered them in bunches for Anna to affix on a rope the circumference of the belly of her lead cow. While our hands were busy we chatted away about the local traditions, the state of affairs with the other farmers and their herds and of course…the shocking price of beer at Oktoberfest.

Upon leaving the ever gracious Anna and the Hartl who I now call my time traveling guide, we finalized our plans for Sunday when we would meet for a final time as Anna leads her herd of 2 milking cows and about 20 young bulls back to the valley and to their home farm in Hausham.

If you would like to visit Rainer-Alm
http://www.bergwandern-für-senioren.de/huetten/index.php?gebiet=2&huette=213

For a wonderful farm house vacation or amazing cabin in ski season:
http://anderlbauer.schliersee.de/unser_hof/unser_hof.php

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

Früchte-Jähne a Food Lovers Paradise

On a bustling corner in Schliersee, directly on B307 at the traffic light with Tengelmenns and the Intersport, you will find a Schliersee tradition. For 33 years, 2 generations of the Jähne family have provided Schliersee and it’s many visitors with an amazing array of fruits and vegetables. From the ordinary to the exotic.  And of course all of the highest quality. This is particularly wonderful during the dark grey winter months when produce selections at the markets are particularly poor.

It is well known that if you buy your produce from Früchte-Jähne you are getting the freshest most delicious products. The price may be a bit more than you would  pay at one of the discounted shops or the larger supermarkets but at Früchte-Jähne you are guaranteed quality.

When I travel, it is these little magical shops where you can find a delicious variety of high quality gourmet foods that intrigue me the most.  Places where I can buy something delicious to bring back to my rental apartment or tuck in my backpack and enjoy on a picnic or a break while hiking.  Imagine snacking on ripe red raspberries the size of your thumb or flat and juicy vineyard peaches with some local cheese and a breathtaking view.

By doing your shopping right here in Schliersee it really helps support these smaller family run establishments.  Which gives us all a richer more varied shopping experience.  I always think that food is one place that you should not cut corners. It saves you money on doctor visits when you eat healthy, high quality foods.  If you can’t grow your own or visit a local farm stand, Früchte-Jähne is the next best thing.

 

Efficient, friendly, knowledgeable service is the norm at Früchte-Jähne and they still believe in the old polite touches like holding the door for you…with a smile.

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

Schwammal (Schwammerl) in Schliersee Time

As a companion piece to my article on Früchte Jähne, Schliersee’s produce paradise, I wanted to share an incredible simple recipe that you can even make on a camp fire while out on a hike.  Especially if you were to make your crepes ahead of time and roll them up around a paper towel tube and wrap with foil.  Once at your cooking location you can gently warm them in the pan you make the mushroom filling in.  I made this yesterday for my family with the Pfifferlinge I bought at Früchte-Jähne.
For me, seeing bright golden Pfifferlinge at the market always means Autumn and these simple yet incredibly savory crepes are always the first thing I make.  I hope they will become an autumnal favorite in your kitchen as well.

 

SAVORY BUCKWEISEN-BUCKWHEAT CREPE

SERVINGS: MAKES ABOUT 12

1 1/4 cups buckwheat flour
3 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil plus additional for skillet
3/4 cup nonfat milk
1 1/4 cups (or more) water
1/4 teaspoon salt

 

DIRECTIONS

Place flour in medium bowl. Whisk in eggs, 1/4 cup oil, milk, 1 1/4 cups water, and salt.

Heat 10-inch-diameter nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; brush pan with oil. Add 1/4 cupful batter to skillet; tilt to coat bottom. Cook crepe until golden on bottom, adjusting heat to prevent burning, 30 to 45 seconds. Using spatula, turn crepe over; cook 30 seconds. Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining batter, stacking crepes between sheets of plastic wrap. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.

 

PFIFFERLINGE-CHANTERELLES FILLING

3/4 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (from 2 shallots)
6 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
2 pounds washed Pfifferlinge-chanterelle mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup creme fraiche

 

DIRECTIONS

1         Crepes: Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. I have found the thinner the batter the better. Melt 1/2 teaspoon butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Tilt skillet at a 45-degree angle, pour in a scant 2 ounces batter (slightly less than 1/4 cup), and immediately swirl and shake skillet in a circular motion to evenly distribute in a thin film across bottom. Cook until edges of crepe turn golden, about 45 seconds. Carefully flip crepe and cook just until set. I like them to have a slight browning but still remain very soft and flexible.  Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Melt another 1/2 teaspoon butter and continue cooking crepes in the same manner, whisking batter between crepes and stacking cooked crepes on top of one another.

2         Mushroom filling: Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of shallots and half of thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are softened and golden brown in places, about 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Cook until most of wine is evaporated. Stir in creme fraiche and season with salt and pepper.  Careful not to overheat as it will curdle the cream and it will not be very pretty.

3         Assembly and serving: I like to serve these Autumnal crepes with a big salad dressed with roasted pumpkin oil, a very fragrant Olive oil and toasted pumpkin seeds.

TIP:     What is wonderful about these buckwheat crepes is you can easily make them a day a head and reheat. Also they are very versatile.  You can fill any leftover crepes with ham or turkey and cheese for the next days meal.  Also they are completely gluten free.

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

Almabtrieb “When the Cows Come Home”

Here it is again, that magical time of year filled with cowbells and fancily festooned farm animals. It is the Almabtrieb season once more. It feels like only yesterday the local cows danced out of the barns after a long dark winter to head up into the lush green pastures high upon the mountaintops.

Almabtrieb or Viehscheid simply mean “Cattle Drive”. The more literal translations are Almabtrieb, “Coming down from the alpine pastures” and Viehscheid, “Separation of the cattle”. After spending approximately 100 days in the flower rich sweet grasses of the “Almen” or Alpine meadows.

Steeped in tradition these colorful events are definitely worth seeking out if you are visiting any Alpine regions during Sept and October. For me personally they are an obsession. Though I have been to and thoroughly enjoyed the pageantry of the larger Almabtriebfests in the Allgaü and elsewhere, it is the small village ones I truly adore. Being able to walk down from the peeks fueled by the joyful excitement is truly magical.

Almabtrieb7LThekI find it fascinating the decoration of leading cow, ‘Kranzkuh’; each is personal and very unique. Many times you find the initials of the farmer, a beloved Saint to protect the cows, even sayings in the local dialect.  One of my favorite that I have seen in our area is “Ds Summa ist aussi, i muaß obi ins Tal“ basically it translates to “The Summer is over and back to the valley we return”. The handwork involved in all this decoration is equally as exciting as the event itself. From the giant heirloom bells used to chase away evil spirits, to the crepe paper twisted blossoms it is all so colorfully unique.

 

Many people ask me about the fancy headdresses the cows wear for this event and if the cows mind them. Last year I had the pleasure of being up on Spitzingsee with a group of herders as they put the headdress or “Buschen” on the cows. There was about 5-10 minutes of prancing about because of the heavy strange feeling of the headdress but then they settled right down. They do seem to enjoy their time in the barnyard once the long hike down is finished destroying each others headdresses. It is really quite a sight to see. I asked one of the farmers if the cows minded and I am not sure if he was being cheeky but he said the lead cow seems very upset when she has been usurped and is no longer given the honor of wearing the largest headdress. So, I will bow to his long experience with the cows.

You might come across a herd of undecorated cows, somberly coming through town. This means that there has been illness or loss of life either in the cattle or even in the farmer’s family and I get very choked up when I see them. It definitely lets you know if it has been a good year or not. I have noticed here in the Schliersee area those groups tend to pass through town very early.

My advice to folks visiting these alpine regions during the time of Almabtrieb is to drive carefully and cautiously as you never know when you might be coming around a corner and find yourself facing a large herd of fancily dressed cows and their hard working handlers attempting to safely bring the cows home in the traditional way. Please be respectful and patient. It is a high-pressure job for them. Always plan your travel accordingly and give yourself extra time. It is best to pull over when possible and just watch the beautiful historic procession pass you by.

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

Alt-Schlierseer-Kirchtag

On 7 August early in the morning about 8 am on the Fischhausen side of lake Schliersee you will find a bustle of activity.  Historic hand carved wooden boats being festooned with boughs of colorful flowers and grasses.  Many fingers moving at a rapid pace to get all the boats beautified before the begin their tour across Schliersee lake.

 

KirchtagLBThek2_fbOne by one and two by two, folks traditionally attired in local costume arrive and spend a little time greeting and fussing about each others clothing and hair before boarding their individual boats.  There is even a small brass band which loads into a boat to serenade this Trachten (traditional clothing) troop across the glassy waters of the Schliersee. It is these small, very romantic, historical events that I find the most precious.  These beautiful traditions of a time long gone by being once again heralded and remembered.   The haunting echo of the music as these colorful historical boats glide by, really chokes me up.  Its like for that one morning we are able to turn back the hands of time to a simpler time.

 

KirchtagLBThek_fbFrom the shores of Fischhausen these boats smoothly row over to the Kurpark in Schliersee and are greeted by a band and more beautifully locally dressed spectators.  I recommend you get there early and send off the boats from Fischhausen shores and walk or ride your bike along the roadside path that follows the lake to Schliersee,  listening to the sweet sounds of the music floating across the lake surface.  You will have plenty of time to get to the Kurpark to see some of the boats arrive.  From there grab an empty park bench and relax and take in all the beauty Schliersee and its people have to offer.

 

http://www.tegernsee-schliersee.de/tradition-brauchtum/alt-schlierseer-kirchtag.html

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

Marlenes Bistro Schliersee

Situated smack dab in the middle of Neuhaus, right between Spitzingsee and Schliersee adjacent to a beautifully gardened park is a little oasis filled with flowers and the incredible aroma of beef grilling on a lava grill.  If you have ever been to Neuhaus I am sure you know I am talking about Marlene’s.

To sit on a sunny Summer afternoon sipping on of her fresh and delicious cocktails while sitting with friends in her bright and cheery flower festooned biergarten and indulging in one of her many delicious salads is the nearest thing to heaven after a  long day of hiking.  During the winter months her cozy interior atmosphere, warm service, and ample supply of local schnapps will chase away any chill.

If you love fresh fish like I do.  Make sure to try one of her potato encrusted fish.  Many of my vegetarian friends love to visit me so I take them to Marlene’s.  They said her salads are one of the best they’ve ever had.  And there are so many other options for the meat lover too.  My family was visiting from the US this year during Thanksgiving and we were treated to a great holiday by Marlene and her wonderful serving staff.  Even our littlest family member found something delicious on the menu.  Which as any parent knows always ensures a great meal.

Don’t miss out. Make a reservation today for your next special event or even just a romantic dinner for two.  Also make sure to say hello to Marlene when she peeks out of the kitchen.  Tell her Schliersee Magazin sent you.

http://marlenes-bistro.npage.de
https://www.yelp.de/biz/marlenes-schliersee?search_key=15708

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

Watersport Schliersee

Having just came in from a beautiful early Sunday morning paddle around Schliersee lake and I thought I would share a tip with you all.  Let me tell you that view of Brecherspitz from the water is something to be experienced first hand.

Located on the B307 just before you reach Fischhausen is a rustic building located just off two small parking areas.  You will recognize it when coming from Schliersee by the three upright SUP creatively painted.  Watersport Schliersee has a well groomed small paddle sport ramp perfect for accessing the lake.  You friends or family not interested in paddling will also find a nice rocky beach area, perfect for splashing and sun bathing while they wait.

They do not offer any lessons but they have a vast array of Stand Up Paddle, kayaks and windsurfing rigs all for rental.  I have also seen advertisement for SUP yoga so it would be good to ask Christoph the owner.   He is very friendly and though they offer no courses they will give tips and hints on proper posture and any other questions you might have. Inside his lake side shop he has a good collection everything you need to get kitted out for a safe and fun day escaping summer’s heat.

Their prices are 15€ for an hour and 25€ for 2 hours.  Make sure to bring identification.   I can personally attest to the wonderful feeling of gliding on that lake.  Its not only good for the body
but also the soul.  Get out on that lake.

For more information check out their website at:
www.watersport-Schliersee.de

Call ahead and make sure someone is there to open the shop at:
Telephone # +49 80 26- 606 915 and ask for Christoph

I look forward to seeing you out on water!

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

Elderflower Syrup

I am a huge fan of free fun and at this time of year there are plenty of delicious free treats to discover in and around Schliersee.  One such bit of fantastic foraging fun is to make your own elderflower syrup to be savored for the rest of the year.  Imagine having the taste of summertime deep into the Winter months.

The elderflower (holunderblüten) grows almost anywhere and can grow to the size of a tree.  You want to avoid picking any damaged or browned blossoms as they will affect the flavor of the syrup.  Only the best will do.  Usually the oils that contain the scent are strongest in the cool of the morning so that would be the best time to harvest.  A good way to identify the plant is by the leaves which are in clumps of 5 with jagged edges.  Gently soak the blossoms in cold water before using to help remove and dirt or critters who might still be attached.

So, now that you are armed with this knowledge, grab a basket and get out there.

This recipe makes approximately 1 quart of syrup.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

  • 1 quart water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 25 elderflower heads, stems removed (about 2 cups flowers)

__________

 

1      Snip off the flowers from the stalks into a large bowl or bucket that will hold everything. Try to remove as much of the stems as you can; they are toxic. A few stray bits of stems will not hurt you, but you want to minimize it.

2      Zest the lemons and add it to the bowl, then the citric acid and lemon juice.

3      Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve. Let the syrup cool enough so that you can stick your finger in it without getting burned; you can leave it to cool to room temperature, too. Pour the syrup over the flowers, lemons et al and stir to combine. Cover the bowl or bucket with a towel and leave it for 2 or 3 days.

4      When you are ready, strain it through a fine-meshed sieve lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel into a clean Mason jar. Seal the jar and store in the fridge.

5      To serve, pour 1 to 3 tablespoons of the syrup into a pint glass and add water or seltzer. Or you can add a tablespoon to a glass of sparkling wine, or to a couple shots of vodka or gin.

 

credit for this recipe https://www.facebook.com/# onest-food.net/2015/05/06/elderflower-cordial/

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

I grab my kayak

Part of my great plan when making the move to Schliersee was to become once more healthy and physically fit.  It was the choice to make moving in the beautiful landscape a priority not just for me but for my family as a whole.

This year on my birthday I added kayaking to my movement plan.  Living in Schliersee we have not only access to the two beautiful tranquil lakes of Spitzingsee and Schliersee but all the many amazing lakes which surround us.  So we have begun trying to paddle in as many as we can.  Currently my favorite is Spitzingsee at sunset with the cows and the mountains all aglow in the fading light.  Its truly breathtaking.

There is magic in the smooth gliding movement of my body being one with my kayak upon the water.  That connection, that feeling of fluid freedom and the connection with the water and its inhabitants.  Sometimes I am visited by fish jumping over the bow of the boat or a mother duck and her ducklings come along side as if she is presenting her little family to me.

To be out there on the lake as the burnt orange glow of the summer sun setting.  There is nothing better and all this grandeur is accompanied by the soft ringing of the cows munching on the hillsides.

If I have an hour free or a particularly tense day.  I grab my kayak and get to a lake.  I hope you too will find some time to float today.  There are boat rentals on both Spitzingsee and Schliersee for you to experience the magic for yourself.

On Schliersee:
http://www.schlierseeschifffahrt.de/bootsverleih/
http://www.stoeger-schliersee.de/index.php?sid=bootsverleih

On Spitzingsee:
http://www.bootsverleih-spitzingsee.de

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

Alpen-Triathlon

On a particular torrentially rainy summer Sunday in June, the roads, lakes and mountain sides were taken over by an army of beautifully functioning human machines.  Have you guessed yet what my overly dramatized description might be about?  Yes, on this day the Schliersee Alpen Triathlon was held.  The whole event was an amazing array of sheer determination, extensive training and down right guts of steel.  Despite horrendous weather conditions, slippery roads, massive rain drops and cold temperatures, these lycra clad athletes competed valiantly against themselves and the clock.  Truly awe inspiring for this photographer.

It your ever lucky enough to be in Schliersee during the triathlon and are looking for motivation for your own physical fitness or are a fan of watching the triumph of the human spirit, don’t miss this event.  It kicks off along Schliersee lake near Kurpark Schliersee.  Right where the tour boat docks.  There are free shuttle busses which will take you to Spitzingsee so you can catch the cyclists as they finish their perilous climb up to the saddle only then to race back down into the tiny village of Spitzingsee where to drop their bikes and begin their long run.

The atmosphere is electric.  Between the athletes, their families cheering them on and all the many smiling support staff handing out drinks and recovery food.  I have to admit my favorite part of this very “alpine” of Alpen triathlon was the finish line.  As the runners came across and received their medals then grabbed a beer and a plate of freshly made steaming hot Kaiserschmarrn.  How’s that for recovery food!  The atmosphere is electric and an event not to be missed for sure.

The link to the triathlon:
http://schliersee-alpentriathlon.com

To find out more about triathlons in the area:
http://www.wechselszene.com/wettkampfe/schliersee-alpen-triathlon

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).