A mini getaway to the Austrian Alps

I like a good mountain get-away.  I am a non-skier/non-snowboarder but when I am in the mountains, I can unwind, I can breathe and I feel relaxed.  There is something about walking outdoors surrounded by mountains that is humbling and grounding.  I also like eating muesli, which can always be found on the menu of an Austrian alpine hotel. Double score!

Let me tell you a bit about taking a mini getaway to the Austrian Alps.  Living in Europe makes a weekend getaway to the Alps very plausible (not just the Austrian Alps- really any Alp range in Europe).   We flew one hour from Copenhagen to Munich, rented a car and drove about an hour and a half south into the Tirol region of Austria, where we checked in at DasPost Hotel.

This hotel was adorable with its contemporary wood and stag interior design.  Come to think of it, DasPost was stag happy!  I tried to snap a couple shots around the place.

Lamb411 Austrian Alp Weekend

In traditional alpine custom, there was lots of wood used throughout the hotel.  As we drove through the valley towards our hotel in Zell am Ziller, we passed several lumber/timber yards.  My favourite room in DasPost was the breakfast room.  There were floor to ceiling windows on three sides of the space with sliding glass doors that could be opened when the weather gets a bit warmer.  They accented this ‘sun’ breakfast spot with modern light fixtures, bold coloured felt chairs, a brightly patterned fabric on the banquet wall seats and a single tulip in a white vase.  When you look out, your view is to the hotel’s backyard which is an outdoor pool, decks and one of their outdoor saunas.

The basement of the hotel came equipped with four lovely saunas and they also had a spa, a fitness room plus an indoor and outdoor pool.  All the right components for a relaxing non-skiing weekend.  (Remember- saunas are naked-only in Austria)

Austria, Rice Breakfast April 20131

Zell am Ziller is a small village (one of many) dotting the mountains of Tirol.  Right across from the hotel was an inter-village train that you could take up to the ski area.  There is also a run/walk/bike park, a nicely groomed path that runs along both sides of the river, where you can run/walk/bike for kilometers on end.  I tried it out on foot one morning and it was great.  Everyone said their hellos, and good mornings as we passed one another.

Austria, Rice Breakfast April 20132

Of course since I was in Tirol, I did a bit of MPREIS hunting.  MPREIS is my favourite Tirolean grocery store chain.  Each MPREIS is designed by an architect and they are all made to look different from the exterior.  They stock each store with a lot of local produce and the shopping experience is just a pleasure.  I think I found six on this trip. It’s like the where’s Waldo game, but I play the “where’s MPREIS” game.

Austria, Rice Breakfast April 20133

It is no wonder that the timber industry seems to be alive and well in the mountains, all the houses, hotels and buildings seem to be made of wood or have wood trimmings and accents.

Austria, Rice Breakfast April 20134

Depending on where you stay in the mountains the food can be rather hit or miss.  I found one bit HIT but I will write about that in a separate post.  For the most part, there is an overabundance of apfel strudel and pizza.  On this trip, I ate pizza three days in a row at three different restaurants.  I had pizza coming out of my ears by the last day.  It was a total pizza overdose, and now I am on a no-pizza mission until I am detoxed from it.  -FYI when you order a vegetarian pizza, it typically comes with corn on top!

Austria, Rice Breakfast April 20135

All in all, our mini getaway was a perfect vacation after a hectic trip to Toronto.  We even to a detour and drove down to the famed, Aqua Dome, a therme which has received a lot of press for its interesting architecture.

If I had to choose where to return, I would go back to Bad Gastein (see below) over Zell am Ziller, but that is because there was a bit more to do there (for me).  For my husband, the snowboarder, the Hintertux glacier and Zillertal mountains were more than enough to keep him happy.


My last mini getaway to the Austrian Alps was to Bad Gastein and you can read about it here.


Finally! A macaron worth blogging about

Finally! A macaron worth blogging about.  I used to blog about macarons all the time.  I think macarons, done well, are blog worthy.  A lot of my earlier material centered on where to eat macarons around the world (here, here, and here  as an example).  Then it sort of just petered out.  Maybe I haven’t found an inspiring macaron lately.

I am proud to say, macarons are back on Lamb411 and boy did I unearth the mother load today!  I had four superb macarons at Strangas Dessert boutique in Copenhagen.


Not only were the macarons superb, I think they might go down in my books as some of the best macarons that I’ve ever eaten.  These were better than Laduree, which has not been very impressive my past two visits to Paris.

I chose four flavours to taste: Basil + something, lemon and violet, salted caramel and mocha. The meringue possessed the right balance of crunchy and chewy and the flavour combinations were intense and bold (especially the basil).

021313 Copenhagen February 2013

The Strangas Dessert boutique is cosy (it’s Copenhagen after all ) with its white brick walls, three candle lit wooden tables and pots of sugar.  But you don’t just come here for the macarons- although for me, that was the main draw.  Nikolaos Strangas, the head pastry chef and owner of Strangas, is a master and artist when it comes to making delicate, French inspired desserts.  I had a chance to meet and briefly speak to Nikolaos this afternoon and not only was he very personable and charming, it sounds like there are a lot of exciting projects on his pastry table.  I added him to Instagram to keep track!

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021313 Copenhagen February 20131

I have to return and sample what was in the adjacent display-I saw a nice looking cheese cake for starters…


Strangas Dessert Boutique · Åboulevard 7  Copenhagen


Date Night #6 Rakultur (Stockholm)

The good thing about date night is that it is portable. So when date night falls on a travel weekend, date night shifts from Copenhagen to a new city.

My husband and I dined at Rakultur, one of Stockholm’s best sushi restaurant (so said a friend of a friend (who is a chef in the city)).

This was my first and only sushi meal in Stockholm so I can’t comment on “bests” but it was serious sushi and up there in my all time sushi meals.

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Rakultur does not take reservations (I called ahead), and when we showed up we were faced with a 40 minute wait.  Our luck, two large parties just arrived before us. Fortunately 40 minutes turned into 15 when the waitress cleared two seats at the bar.  Perfect for us.

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The kitchen closes at 9:30 so we were informed if we wanted a chef’s table tasting menu, to hurry up and place the order.  I wasn’t starving so I ordered two rolls (a saute autumn mushroom roll and a Korean steak tartar and pear salad roll).  My husband decided on the small chef’s table tasting menu which included a roll that pays tribute to Momofuku in New York – the pork knuckle roll- in addition to several other artful rolls.

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On the menu, I noticed Rakultur even had a selection of sushi made from Scandinavian fish, which I thought was neat.  This is not a “California roll or spicy tuna” type sushi restaurant.  Here you get creative ingredient combinations and simple, clean, delicately presented sushi.  I appreciated the little added touches sprinkled on top of some of the rolls or the bottle of soy sauce with a paint brush to lightly dab and brush soy to your fish.

For some reason, while I was sitting at the chef’s table, I thought of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, if you’ve seen it.  The dining experience was not as formal as Jiro but there was some serious sushi design work and assemblage going on behind the glass separating us from the three chefs.

We left very full and very satisfied.  Highly recommended.

Restaurant Råkultur- Kungstensgatan 2 114 25 Stockholm

Telephone: 08-696 23 25


Date Night #5 Che Fe 90-100% Bio Trattoria

Nothing like a bit of “organic” positioning to catch your eye and move you to a decision.  This was the case for Che Fe, a 90-100% Bio Italian Trattoria in my neighbourhood.

Photo Source: 10Best

Why 90-100% you ask?  Good question!  My husband and I asked the waiter the same question too.


But before I tell you the answer, I will tell you why I chose this restaurant.  It was a dark and stormy night in Copenhagen, minus the stormy.  Rather, it was a cold and dark night.  We were committed to date night but did not feel like travelling very far.  Solution:  Our complex of apartments contains a handful of restaurants.  Che Fe is one of them.  For us, a meal at Che Fe involved exiting our flat and walking across the street into a warm, cosy restaurant.  Score!  And, I guess you could say I was curious why the window of the restaurant says 90-100% organic.  Why not just say 90% or 100%???  Why the range?


Like many of the restaurants in Copenhagen, Che Fe operates on a seasonal menu which switches up every two to three months.  When we visited, we caught the end of the “winter” menu, which means the next time we visit, we will get to taste test something new.  In fact, just last week I received an email with their February-pre-spring menu that will feature venison.

“We are in our February menu inspired by winter venison and early spring, which is spreading across the fields in Sicily.” (Gotta love Google Translate)

Che Fe is a Sicilian restaurant and to be accurate, they are 93% organic.  This means all ingredients used in the menu come from organic Italian producers with the exception of the spirits (however they did find an organic Limoncello producer) and the fish.  They shared with us they would rather serve fresh fish from the seas around Denmark but they could not guarantee the sea fish stuck to an organic diet :).  We’ll let that one fly.


This little, warmly lit restaurant was packed.  We snagged the last table on a Friday night at 8pm.  We weren’t starving so we started with some olives, my husband tried the soup (above) and we each got a main (him the venison papardelle and me a crepe like vegetarian dish with swiss chard, lentils and cheese, in a tomato sauce).

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Our personable waiter was chatty and helpful guiding us through the dining experience.  Earlier on in the meal, we shared with him that we were new to the hood and Che Fe’s new next door neighbours.  After the last sip of organic limoncello and piece of tiramisu, the waiter approached our table with a small white gift bag.  How thoughtful! We received a small parting gift for being their new neighbours- a bottle of olive oil and some nice pasta.

The other cool thing about this restaurant is that they also have a mini organic Italian food boutique and are sister companies with the Italian bakery Il Fornaio, which is located in Torvehallerne market.

Che Fe- you’re going on the rotation!  It’s nice to have you as neighbours.



Goods from a Danish Bakery

I am back from Meet the Blogger Stockholm.  It was a terrific weekend and I look forward to going through all my pictures and recap of what was seen, said and eaten in future blog posts on Lamb411.

Notable experience: I had a tremendous dinner at one of Stockholm’s best sushi restaurants called Rakultur (no reservations and we were assured our wait would be at least 40 minutes).  Thankfully we only had to wait about 10 before we were seated at the chef’s table.  The chef’s table reminded me of the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi– great flick if you haven’t seen it.

Rakultur is apparently known as the sushi restaurant where chefs eat at.  (According to Phaidon’s book– and a friend of a friend’s recommendation)

But enough about Stockholm.

For Tuesday, I leave you with a trio of baked goods from a Danish bakery in Copenhagen called Gorm.

I am continuously asked about Danish danishes from my Canadian friends and family.  I thought that in response, and the fact that I am an avid bakery taste tester, I would try to snap a couple shots and show you what’s in store.

These three beauties came from a bakery called Gorm on Store Kongensgade.   No website that I can find.



LEFT: Cookie filled and dipped with dark chocolate

MIDDLE: Chocolate covered danish

RIGHT: Cookie with raspberry jam in the middle topped with white icing

Stockholm MTBS and CPH


Very Fitting: Gummy Bear Chandelier

How was your weekend? Mine was relaxing.  I went to an excellent neighbourhood organic Italian Trattoria that I will post about later this week (Date Night #5), called Che Fe.  I also watched not one, but two (actually one and a half) movies: Beautician and the Beast (huge Fran Drescher fan here!!) and I started watching an really interesting documentary about the indie video game industry called Indie Game.

I was so intrigued by the documentary (not Beautician and the Beast) that I am trying to figure out how to parlay the indie game movie into a new assignment next semester for a distance learning class I am teaching called Marketing Planning.  The thoughts are still marinating in my head.  (So if you are my student and reading this- don’t jump to conclusions 🙂

Back to gummy bears- Why is a gummy bear chandelier fitting you ask?

A) I love gummy bears.

B) I ate a lot of these over the weekend while watching Beautician and the Beast.

C) I have found a superior gummy, which I will post about later.  Did you know that North American gummy bears and European gummy bears do not taste the same? Surprise surprise!  The gummies here seem to contain more fruit and less sugar and they are tasty.  I have a stash from Bears and Friends (a little bit of fruit gummy heaven) in Dresden that is housed in various jars around my flat.  I also tasted a few gummies last week from a Copenhagen candy store that were excellent and keeping with the Euro-gummy experience.

When I saw this gummy bear chandelier, I just had to share it with you.  Artist Kevin Champeny made the “candelier” from over 3000 hand cast acrylic Gummi Bears for Jellio.

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Photo Source: 1-4

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