"True, I talk of dreams / Which are the children of an idle brain / Begot of nothing but vain fantasy / Which is as thin of substance as the air / And more inconstant than the wind, who wooes / Even now the frozen bosom of the north / And, being anger'd, puffs away from thence, / Turning his face to the dew-dropping south."

"Romeo and Juliet" by W. Shakespeare

Where hills are old enough to be mountains and winds are old enough to calm down there is a place called Admont, right in the middle of the Enstall Alps. The month is October. The earth is damp and rustling . Nature is slowing down but still transforming. Once green, now leaves are changing to yellow, to copper, to coral-pink the Schilcher sturm (note 1)  I’ve just had at Gasthaus “Der Kamper”.

I’m heading to the Monastery. Stift Admont is an old witness to these places. For almost 1000 years, the Benedictine Abbey has and continues to be a centre of art and scholarship for Upper Styria. It was founded in 11th century (1074) by the archbishop of Salzburg.

The forty-eighth Rule of Saint Benedict prescribes extensive and habitual "holy reading" for the Benedictine order followers. Therefore many abbeys have developed in time impressive libraries to support monks' scholar life. The Admont library was designed and painted in 18th century on the request of Abbot Matthäus Offner. The works were finalised in 1776.

Admont Library

The baroque architect Josef Hueber (1715-1787) build an extraordinary hall measuring 70m in length and 13m height. He filled it with light and knowledge, a true representation of the Enlightenment style: "Like the mind, rooms should also be filled with light." Currently it hosts 60.000 books organised in 3 areas: the PROFANE ( the arts and technologies) the HOLY (Scriptures collection and related studies) and religious and theological literature. The ceilings frescoes ( in a number of 7) are depicting stages of human knowledge as  floating characters on pink and blue clouds. They were painted by Bartolomeo Altomonte (1694-1783) who was 80 years old in the summer of 1775-76.

The library, meant to compete with El Escorial (Spain) has around 80.000 visitors per year. In 1865 a disastrous fire destroyed almost the whole monastery, but spared the library. The monastery as we see it now was rebuilt until 1869.

Admont Library

The monastery courtyard hides delightful gardens. Few stripes of pebbles are fences to tiny little squares of paradise: edible or decoration plants allowed to grow as wild as they can ...but only in their squares :). A quince tree, not higher than 2 meters, presides the garden overwhelmed by heavy fruit.

Close by, surrounded by reed there is a pond, home for majestic swans. I find myself admiring in silence white feathers floating on the water. All in slow motion.

Admont Abbey Gardens

Playful winds whispering, rain falling silently. The air is filled with the scent of the old forest. You could feel the wet bark, the mould forming on branches , the moss, all those strong aromas "hitting" your nostrils. The garden ends with a fence of walnut and chestnut trees. With elegance Autumn salutes its visitors.

I'm heading straight to our motel. With eyes wide open I see clouds of baiser (the airy white library) and roasted walnuts (the gardens) pairing for my next recipe. A moment of dreaming with a book and a petit four. That will do for the evening. I am searching for the joy of a sweet bite that can capture this trip to Admont. I find in Josef Zauner's book "Das Grosse k.u.k. Mehlspeisenbuch" a recipe which might be the perfect choice: WALNUSS SCHIFFERL, little boats of pate sucree filled with walnuts and rum, glazed with white icing. I changed the white icing with a generous layer of baiser, of course :)

(note 1) Schilcher is a wine produced solely in the Austrian region of Western Styria. It is a distinct rosé made with a distinct bouquet of flavours from the indigenous Blauer Wildbacher grape. Its taste reminds me of wild strawberries and elderflower. The colour tends to develop tones of deep ruby and coral nuances. October is the perfect month to enjoy a glass or two of Schilcher sturm (slightly fermented wine)

WALNUSS SCHIFFERL and paintings (extracts) at Admont Museum


12 mini-boats filled with Autumn deliciousness

You will need one custom tin to help you bake the boats. I used one made by Stadter.



250g universal flour ( Type 480 - glatt)

125g butter (unsalted, cut in tiny cubes)

55g sugar (finekristal)

1 egg yolk (M)

50ml milk


75g of ground walnut  

50g Semmelbroesel (dried panko / fine dried bread crumbs)

40g confectionary sugar

50ml whole milk

1 tablespoon of honey

2 tablespoons of rum

1 tablespoon of raisins

a pinch of cinnamon


3 egg whites (M)

130g sugar (finekristal)

12 half walnuts (slightly roasted)


Make the pate sucree/Murbteig (see recipe ) one day ahead.

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Butter the metal tin. Line each boat mould with dough and smooth the edges with your fingers.

Bake the tiny boats for 20-25min until golden. Set aside until completely cool.

Mix thoroughly the filling ingredients in a bowl . Fill up the boats leaving a tiny layer empty until the top (2mm not more).

Make the baiser (see SWISS MERINGUE recipe here). Pipe the swiss meringue in each boat covering generously the edges.

As decoration half of a roasted walnut will do perfectly for each boat. Simple, elegant, delicious ! Enjoy!

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