Austrian Christmas

We decided to join some friends for a guaranteed white Christmas by having a week in the Austrian Tyrol town of Seefeld. How did we know the “great freeze” was about to start back home!

We flew into Innsbruck and the approach is amazing with the plane twisting and turning in between the mountains making it feel as if you could reach out and touch the snow covered peaks. Seefeld is 40 mins from Innsbruck nestled between the mountains on a high plateau, very beautiful.

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 Anyhow this is a foodie blogsite not travel so we’ll start with the Alpen Park Hotel(part of the Karlschmidt Family Group) where we had opted for a half board package. The hotel facilities are just amazing, spa’s, pools, tennis,bowling and lots more but the restaurant was deceptive! On walking into the restaurant it appears just like a well presented big hotel food hall including the obligatory buffet. However breakfast was just fantastic with every type of local bread, eggs cooked in front of you in any which way, fruit juice squeezed as you watch, cold meats, cheeses, cereals galore, hot meats……………and Champagne!

Dinner was a four course affair every night except Christmas Eve when it was 8 courses(Austrians celebrate the main feast on Christmas Eve) and Christmas day was ONLY 6 courses. If a picture speaks a thousand words the feast your eyes;

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Christmas and New Year 09/10

The holiday period was a bit of a confusing blur with all the days merging into one and on top of this, a few of us headed down to Cornwall for the New Year. As usual, it was all absolutely brilliant and we are ll truly blessed to enjoy the lives that we have.

I thought a little photographic round up might be in order as Christmas Eve seems ages ago and the piccies will jog the old memory into action.

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First up, home made sausage rolls inspired by Delia’s peerless Christmas bible. These were quickly hoovered up by the descending hordes and it all nearly went Pete Tong when we’d not had enough to eat and plenty to drink too. I’m not usually good with baking (I leave it to J – she’s much better than me and far tidier of course) but they turned out pretty good. Delia rocks.

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J returned to the house pre Christmas to discover this magnificent brace of Pheasant on the front door handle. We knew this could only be the work of our good farmer-friend Jonathan and after a call was made, it was indeed the case. I planned to cook these for lunch on Christmas Eve, but the afternoon rather ran away with itself as the the snow fell in the morning and friends arrived in the afternoon. In fact the birds were plucked and drawn in the garage by a gang of little helpers (children, not elves) and we ate them for supper. I find them hard to gauge and as much as I try to keep them pink and moist, they were a little dry – note to self, don’t drink industrial quantities of G&T prior to cooking Pheasant.

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The Christmas day turkey, resplendent. This year, I was slightly disappointed with the breast (not as moist as last year’s wallet busting organic bronze I have to say), but the legs were good and I’m a leg man.

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I think I’ve just invented a new term that perfectly sums me up – Gravy Geek. Everything but the kitchen sink went into the gravy this year and was it worth it? Oh yes. And there was gallons of it too, a savoury and sweet nectar that saved the turkey from the dreaded announcement for around the table “it’s a bit, well, dry”

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These roasties got more TLC than my first child did, I can tell you. I tended them like new born lamb and boy did they deliver – crisp and sweet on the outer and floury and light on the inside.

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Moving on to Cornwall, we spent a few evenings in the deeply comforting Blue Bar in Porthtowan. In the summer, it’s surfer heaven and the door are open and it’s simply cool and laid back. The winter brings a different vibe – hunkered down in the twilight whilst the waves batter the shore, all that was needed was a pint of Tribute from St Austell Brewery. We’ve been going there for so long it seems like a home from home to us.

Finally we paid our annual visit to Fifteen Cornwall. It’s a long way to go for lunch if you live in Yorkshire (and it would be worth it) but if you’re in Cornwall at any point,I would say that you would be a ridiculous fool not to eat there. It’s not super expensive at lunch time (dinner has the more expensive tasting menu on) and there’s a three course fixed price lunch at £26 that is immense value given the quality of the produce and the cooking.

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J nearly manhandled my plate of potted crab off me and it was only the fact her chowder (below) was so delicious, it took her mind off the fact she wasn’t having the crab for once.

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I don’t normally go for boring soup, but I would have made an exception in this case.

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Pan fried scallops and belly pork on a bed of puy lentils. Hello!!?? This was truly fabulous (surf, turf etc) and J nicked half of it on the basis she had lost her mind and ordered the wrong dish (see below). She knew exactly what she was doing – but it didn’t matter, I had won by ordering the most delish dish on the menu. No contest.

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This Porchetta was gorgeous – but you know what? I’d stick out my neck and say that I think mine is better! It lacked the spice and kick of the true Porchetta we’ve had in Tuscany and the version I’ve done. But obviously, I don’t have to cook for 500 people on a lunchtime, so I’ll let them off. It was still great though.