Half-way between Vienna and Salzburg, on the round edges of a hill in Upper Austria stands Burg Clam. A beautiful fortress from 12th century with a gorgeous panorama! The Burg belongs to Clam family since 1454. Today it is partly museum, open for avid visitors like me. During summer it is a cradle for music: "Clam Rock" is an international rock festival which attracts thousand of fans on the slopes of that hill, each year.
We had the pleasure to tour the castle this September. The air was filled with the scent of wet leaves and autumn ripeness, just like tasting an old white wine. The nature has been generous with this place. The establishment is surrounded by a thick forest. Somehow it felt like the castle and the trees have grown together for years.
The castle walls are now dressed for Autumn, covered in deep red geranium, petunia, moss and old ferns. Bricks and stones soaked in history: each bare rock, each crack in the wall seem to tell stories of hardship and battles. The perfect scene for a Rock festival, I would say !
Its rooms, the Gothic chapel, the old Apotheke, the armoury salon even if redecorated to fit more „modern“ times they paint the portrait of a medieval location in essence. Upstairs, in one of the rooms we find a private collection of baroque porcelain. Not expected at all. Delicate and fragile creations, resembling to Fragonard paintings, a touch of sensibility beneath the thick layer of bravery and knighthood that you could sense everywhere around you. I feel suddenly the confidence that this place can be a source of inspiration for a delightful dessert.
A walk through the kitchen unveils the picture of a menu from 1925 which ends with a dessert called "Gebakener Reisauflauf". After researching what is a Rice Casserole ("mot-a-mot" translation of Reisauflauf) I find it is the perfect representation for Burg Clam: the hard essence of the rice grain turned into a delicate soufflé, just like the porcelain, which is nothing more than an elegant expression of stones turned into dust and mixed with clays. Feeling poetic ? Well yes and this is the right place to leave your imagination run free.
There is a last connotation on the menu which mentions "fraises" therefore I decide to make a Reisauflauf filled with late Autumn strawberries. A delightful taste and texture, bringing childhood memories to most of the visitors. I'm pretty sure that everyone remembers that one time when "granny" cooked a rice pudding.
Why the menu is written in French, I could only interpret that this is the overwhelming influence of French cuisine after Antonin Careme working in Vienna in 19th century or the Escoffier haut cuisine school at beginning of 1900. Still the dessert is partially written in German, a nice detail depicting a proud Austrian cuisine which developed more around desserts, underlying the connection with the land.
I hope my trip was enough motivation and recommendation for scheduling a visit to the castle ...a jewel of its time ! Burg Clam