Bravarian Bytes!

Posted by on Nov 17, 2010 in Travel Tales | 0 comments

Bravarian Bytes!

Yeah,sure! I have reasons to call it Bravaria!

Let me start my story from some years back.

Matthias and Kirsten are my closest “new-age” friends. Matthias, I met at sun-down gathering in the white pristine beach of Sarasota(FL). He was witnessing along with several others a Sunday sun-down ritual that takes place on the beach. A group of very very spiritual (and totally crazy!) people offer their prayers and offerings to the powerful sun-god, while he is on his way to his own abode, leaving us earthlings behind! There are people who mostly dance,people who indulge in a drum-jam, and of course some people who make their parrots talk, and call themselves by the name of ShaDow! Okay..go figure that one!

Matthias and me became internet pals after that introduction;since he was from Germany, visiting Sarasota on business and I was to go back to India, within a few more months.

Cut to 2003.

Via the internet,I get introduced to his very pretty girlfriend Kirsten, who is a professional hairdresser, and whose ultimate ambition in life(at that point in time!) is to have Satya Sai Baba sit on her ‘hot-chair’, and she could ‘dress his hair away to glory’!

Not sure, if this was the only reason..but soon after this discovery of mine, I received news that they were visiting Bangalore. I had German guests at my place for a month or so, for the next three years. Vegetarian, yoga-practicing German friends, who were Satya Sai Baba devotees and believed in anything and everything ‘orgyaaanik’! Fun times.

2007.A Europe trip planned for 45 days, living out of a cabin-size suitcase;8 countries;17 cities! And I land up in the tiny hamlet of Floss, in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps of Germany- where Matthias lives with his pretty girlfriend. I have been to Munich before, which is the capital and most important city of Bavaria. This time around, the idea was to steep in flavours, sounds and sights of the local Bavaria, and that’s what led me to Fichtelberg, and that’s where Bavaria for me became Bravaria!

Here are my diary notes:

Fichtelberg,19th May 2007

 

Had one amazing and awkward experience at the spa in Fichtelberg,half an hour from Floss.The place is an organic/natural healing center.Thermal baths from natural springs,Kneipp methods,aromatherapy(lavender,jasmine,orange aufguss or sprays while in a 80deg C sauna!)..the idea is that the aroma inhaled hits the brains and has potential benefits!

That’s the awesome and normal part.

The braving and awkward part was that no one wore clothes and you had to follow suit.

But the resort was fantastic. A beautiful view of the rolling hills in the foreground and the low lying Bavarian Alps in the distance,red tiled roofs,multiple quirky shaped pools,unlimited food and drinks,and the aromatic saunas.

And an all day entry to enjoy these was EUR 15 !

Bavarian food is interesting but rather non-descriptive to the Indian taste bud. I wasn’t allowed anything non-vegetarian inside Matthias’s den-because the ‘sacredness’ of the place will be lost! So I stuck to an all veggie diet, that my hosts arranged for me.Which is not something to write home about,considering I am a carnivore of the prime order.. but hey, all new things in life are ‘experiences’!

Let me start with the most elaborate of these preparations!The Rhubarb Pie. Which was part of a meal that comprised additionally of garden-fresh bright scarlet tomato slices and mozzarella cheese. Simple, yet delicious! Kirsten’s kitchen had a lot of Indian masalas available, apart from a mortar and pestle and a wet-grinding stone! The Indian invasion to a Bavarian kitchen,I say! I noticed she was adding to the pie-filling chopped rhubarb,flour and a pinch of salt..and binding it with flax-seed and using spevia instead of sugar.My foodie-spirit couldn’t resist the temptation of providing her with some culinary guidance! On my earnest insistence, and utter happiness she added the following ingredients:

*Aniseed Powder

*Orange Zest

*Mint leaves

*Finely choped fresh ginger

*Cinnamon

*Grated Nutmeg

 

It was surely a Sunday brunch to remember!

Tegernsee 20th May 2007

Today was a train-ride to the foothills of the Bavarian Alps,to a place called Tegernsee. A pristine turquoise lake,with slow-lidded mountains surrounding it.No Lonely Planet,this time around!The lake had three villages surrounding it: Gmund,Schliersee and Tegernsee. The best way to experience Tegernsee, Rob(my friend in the train!) suggested was to take a steamer ride and hop-on and hop-off as it plies through the aquamarine lake.My first stop as at Gmund. Now Gmund rests beautifully embedded in the beautiful, soft rolling landscape of the alpine foothills. The serene harmony of landscape and nature is almost like poetry!And, the occupants are almost tucked away inside pages of a history book! Some of them still wear traditional Bavarian outfits;drive tractors, water baby calves, or ride ponies! Next stop Schliersee. Situated between Tegernsee Lake and Wendelstein Mountain, Schliersee is the perfect spot for a family vacation – or, for anyone seeking tranquility and pure relaxation! I rented a tandem bicycle, hopped on on the hind-seat and rode off through flower-laced valleys,across contoured fields and mountains, often getting prized with a glimpse of the beautiful lake.Final stop: Tegernsee.Tegernsee is the oldest recorded settlement on the lake that bears the same name. Today, the town is a vibrant, modern resort town that is still very much in touch with its 1,250-year history as a center of culture.Tegernsee Valley treated me to some magnificent blue skies and a majestic lake sunsets. And some Weissbier,post sundown!Weissbier also known as Weizenbier (“wheat beer”), is a Bavarian specialty beer in which a significant proportion of malted barley is replaced with malted wheat. The taste is seriously strange! Tastes clove-like, banana-like, phenolic, sour, spicy, or even bubblegum-like! Apologize for this confusion, but I am unarmoured to provide exact characteristics! All I know is that a glass of Weissbier always sports an appetizing, tall, white, creamy head…very impressive and surly! Headed back to Floss by train.

Falkenberg, 21st May 2007

Falkenberg Castle. A tiny well maintained medieval castle,nestled on a weird looking rock. The castle was rented out for a wedding,but we barged in and saw the interiors,nevertheless! The place looked like a setting of ‘The prisoner of Zenda’ with tiny window holes,cellars,huge banquet rooms,and weird attics.

The castle cant fail to catch your attention!

A board outside says that a complete renovation was done between 1936 and 1939 by the duke “Friedrich Werner Graf von der Schulenburg”. And I wasn’t wrong when I was fantasizing about ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’!I was informed that it was indeed used during WW II by the Gestapo to keep selected (choicest,if I may add..considering its rather lavish and palatial!)prisoners. Below the castle rested peacefully the Waldnaab tal,a picturesque valley winding through which was a brook,almost like the State Parks in the US. Took a lazy stroll.

The same evening,I went mountain biking around Floss, through gorgeous Bavarian landscapes. Almost 20kms,with two expert bikers in Matthias and Kirsten. Trying to slow down their speed to mine was an experiment in endurance for them..am sure!

I had a great time in that tiny village of Floss, during my stay with my local hosts. The beauty of a place can only be discovered when you see it the local way, through local eyes.

The last dinner of this trip, at the palatial house belonging to Matthias was prepared by Kirsten. It was quite delicious and rather simple to make. Recipe notes for Kartoffelpuffer can be found @ Kirsten’s kitchen

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