We follow paths and roads in life that separates us from what we call home. The place that inhabits all your childhood memories. The place in which first hug, first dream, first smile happened. After some years home becomes a feeling. A warm "aide-memoir" of your existence. A trip to Schladming on a magical winter day was a reminder of what home is my mind. A walk in the forest, chasing snow flakes, the prelude of a love story with a city I have visited for the first time but felt like home since always.
Schladming is a small town lying at the foot of the mountains in Styria, loved for winter-sports and hiking. The settlement dates back from 12th century and has Slavic roots. It encloses an old parish church built in the name of St. Achiatus. The construction was firs documented in 1299. Its bell tower ends with a tall "onion helmet" raising up to the skies, competing like with the surrounding peaks. The High Altar is a wonderful representation of a Baroque style, made by Peter Hafner and Martin Neuberg at the begining of 18th century.
Snowy days are always an opportunity for comfort and home gatherings. Woollen pullovers, mittens, long socks, the wish for warmth is a requisite that guides us through the winter. Seasonal food dishes are following the same path: thicker broths, heavier meats, luscious preserves which are not only providing the right nutrients for cold days but also give us the warm feeling of being protected from the wrathful weather.
This time of the year Christians are usually fasting, preparing themselves to receive in purity Easter's blessings. Although the principle behind fasting is the same, the Catholic traditions are milder than the Orthodox ones, simply because the only not allowed food is meat while Orthodox rule assumes a "vegan" diet (no diaries, eggs or meat). Still for the one who is fasting, he is deprived of the joy of tasting the "forbidden" ingredients. To compensate the "un-hapiness" that one might get by restraining his food choices, people found alternative motivations. Germknodel is a very good example. A very large dumpling that makes your plate a delightful site to see. A rich texture and flavour, aiming to surprise you with its plum and Rum filling.
The dumpling is usually served in a bath of sauce: either vanilla sauce or beurre noisette. Both French sauces belonging more to a haut cuisine profile than to a "homy" kitchen. The flavours are mixing very well together, a delight even if you are not fasting. Delicious warm comfort food for winter days ...or even spring ! :)