And for the main course...
Last weekend, butter tarts.
We had to use most of my precious reserve of New Brunswick maple syrup, since they don't sell corn syrup here in Austria. My-my's recipe made six big tarts plus four piggy ones, and they were delicious. Like, delicious. Even though they had to be eating off a plate with a spoon due to the insides still being liquid despite extra baking time. Sorry there is only one tart in that picture - the others had mysteriously disappeared.
And for the main course...
I was in the kitchen making cordon bleu one night this week (yes, Mom, really), and I poked my head around the door to find that I shouldn't have bothered - dinner was already served.
Sunday afternoon, I went for a walk along the canal and over to the Donauinsel. I've only ever been that way on bike before, but I thought I'd do it by foot this time in order to get a closer look at the route. I came back along the western side of the canal and made a discovery.
An art gallery! Or something like that. There was a whole series of elaborate images on the underside of the bridge, evidently the work of a variety of different artists. They were really quite intriguing. Vienna has a lot of graffiti, especially along the canal, but the vast majority is just random scrawls. Nothing like this.
I took pictures of some of my favourites. I like the ones that look like they've jumped out of either a fantasy book or someone's nightmare.
Like that lobotomy up top, which I imagine to be the sort of thing one would find careening around the upper levels of the old abandoned Buffalo psychiatric center. That dude in the middle is clearly having either a panic attack or a drug-induced hallucination. And then there's the Queen of All Evil there at the bottom. A close relative of der Erlkönig, she travels through fresh spring gardens, plucking children from their mothers' arms and draining their life-force.
A few minutes later, I stumbled upon a lost key, lying on the ground. This was fortunate, because instead of constructing stories about the lobotomy man that would keep me up all night worrying about what might be in the closet, I had to concentrate on translating, "I found your key by the canal today; how would you like me to get it to you?" into German.
When a European describes a ski resort as small, you should take their comment with a grain of salt. A "small" Alpine ski resort is rather like a "small" American ice cream sundae.
My colleagues told me Semmering was small. They said it would be okay for a short day trip since it's so close to Vienna, but it's not very exciting. I decided to check it out last weekend anyway. My hopes were high, but when I arrived it was to dirty green fields and a muddy parking lot. Not a snowflake in sight. Plenty of rain, though. Not quite what I'd had in mind, but oh well, I thought, I've skied in rain before.
I got my lift ticket and skis and hopped into the gondola. To my relief, snow appeared both on the ground and in the air before we'd reached the first drop-off point. At the top, I hopped off somewhat puzzled about what had happened in the last ten minutes of my life, because everything, as far as I could see, was covered in a heavy blanket of white.
Here's the thing. In my opinion, a ski resort can be characterised as small if it has several distinguishing features:
a) there is only one place to eat,
b) you take the chairlift up to the top and ski down to the bottom; you do not take the chairlift up and then take a second chairlift up higher and then ski partway down so that you can take a third chairlift up to the actual top,
c) the weather at the top is the same as the weather at the bottom.
None of these were true of Semmering. The top of the highest run was about level with the treeline. There were some scattered pines, quite short and leaning towards the mountain's peak. Everything was coated in a thick layer of ice. Including me. The view would have been brilliant, I'm sure, if the conditions hadn't been quite so blizzard-like.
My favourite loop involved taking the lifts up to the tippy-top, then skiing a series of runs down to one of the midpoints, then taking the lifts back up again. Once I reached the midway point, all the snow that had fallen on me as I was coming down would melt, making for wet mitts and a wet face. Then I'd get back up to the top and everything that had melted would freeze. This I continued until early afternoon, when the wind on top of the mountain had gotten so strong that I had to admit defeat and stick to the lower runs.
It was great. And had I only carried on a bit longer, I'm sure I'd have been successful in disposing of my mother's nose.