Spaghetti Squash With Sausage Ragù

If you love spaghetti but are trying to limit the amount of pasta you eat, Spaghetti Squash With Sausage Ragù is a dish you should try. Italian sausage, tomatoes, onions, herbs and red wine are slow simmered until they become a rich meat sauce. It is served on top of spaghetti squash and finished with grated Locatelli Romano cheese. Delizioso!

Spaghetti Squash With Sausage Ragú

Spaghetti Squash With Sausage Ragú

My husband and I are trying to cut bread, pasta, rice and potatoes from our meals for one month and so far we are doing great. With a delicious meal like this one, we won’t mind putting pasta on the back burner for a while. If you want to eat a little healthier, eat gluten free, cut down on carbs occasionally, or just want to have something different, do give this recipe a try.

Spaghetti Squash With Sausage Ragù

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly

Ragù

  • 1 lb.  ground Italian sweet sausage
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced fine
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups of basic marinara sauce (homemade if possible)
  • 1  14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. red wine
  • pinch fennel seeds
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water as needed
  • Locatelli Romano cheese, grated (optional)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan then add sausage. Break up as finely as possible with a spoon and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the onions and cook until soft, add more oil if mixture seems dry, then add the garlic. Cook until the meat has become brown. Pour in the marinara sauce, add the diced tomatoes, the wine and all of the seasonings and stir well. Reduce heat to very low and simmer, uncovered, for about an hour  until the mixture is thick and develops a rich deep flavor. You may have to add a little water occasionally if the sauce gets too thick during the simmering process. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Squash

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Brush the flesh with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 to 60 minutes until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork.* Remove from oven and cool  enough to handle. Scrape the flesh into strands and place in a bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil, toss and taste for seasoning.

*I have cooked the squash both cut side up and cut side down. When roasted facing down, the squash tends to steam and will produce wetter and softer strands. I personally like the results of roasting it cut side up better as the strands are a little drier and have a texture more like pasta.

To serve, place some spaghetti squash into each bowl, top with ragù and sprinkle with a little cheese if desired.

****

Spaghetti squash is very versatile and can be topped with many different sauces. I’ve made spaghetti squash with chicken meatballs and tomato basil sauce for a lighter Italian meal.

Spaghetti Squash And Chicken Meatballs Marinara

Spaghetti Squash And Chicken Meatballs Marinara

I’ve also made Thai style spaghetti squash with chicken meatballs which was another wonderful way to use the squash that you might not have though of.

Thai Style Spaghetti Squash With Chicken Meatballs

Thai Style Spaghetti Squash With Chicken Meatballs

As you can see, you can make delicious meals that might have been originally made with some sort of pasta but by using spaghetti squash you cut back on carbs and calories. While my husband and I won’t give up pasta, rice, potatoes and bread permanently, a month of doing without them is going to be easy. Tell me my dear readers, have you tried substituting different vegetables for pasta or rice in your meals lately?

 

 

Posted in food, Home, lifestyle, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 229 Comments

Mini Cheesecakes, A Decadent Bite Of Deliciousness

Mini Cheesecakes, A Decadent Bite Of Deliciousness are the perfect way to end a meal or the year, in fact. With New Year’s Eve in a matter of days, I thought it might be nice to share a recipe for something sweet for your holiday celebrations.

These single serving versions of a classic creamy and rich cheesecake with a sour cream topping are delicious little bites which can be served plain or garnished with toppings of your choice. They are a quick and easy dessert that can be made ahead of time and they freeze well. That makes them ideal for serving at your New Year’s Eve gathering or just grabbing one for yourself as an indulgent little treat.

Mini Cheesecakes, A Decedent Bite Of Deliciousness

Mini Cheesecakes, A Decadent Bite Of Deliciousness

My mother used to make these mini cheesecakes with their sour cream topping for the holidays and they were always the dessert she was requested to bring to social gatherings. She made hers with a vanilla wafer as the base for the cheesecakes and served them plain. I think she would like how I’ve tweaked her recipe and the way I’ve garnished them…one with a sweet cherry sauce, another with dark chocolate sauce topped with a milk chocolate and pecan praline and the last drizzled with a salted caramel sauce topped with a caramel pecan.

Mini Cheesecakes With Sour Cream Topping

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Makes 12

  • 1 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 c. gingersnap crumbs
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted

Place the crumbs and melted butter in a bowl and stir until well combined. Line a 12 cup muffin and cupcake pan with foil liners. Place a heaping tablespoon of crumbs into each liner and press firmly into place with a small glass or the back of a spoon.

  • 2  8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 eggs (large)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Place the softened cream cheese, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice into a bowl and beat with a hand mixer at medium speed. Scrape down the sides often and beat until smooth and creamy. Spoon mixture into the foil cups, about 3/4 full. (Do not over fill or you won’t have room for the topping. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes until the cheesecakes puff up but still have a little jiggle then remove from the oven but do not turn it off. (The tops may be cracked and will deflate as they cool but that is OK).

  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the sour cream, sugar and vanilla until it is well combined. Spoon about a tablespoon of the sour cream mixture on top of each partially baked cheesecake and smooth to the edges. Return to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes more until the topping is set. Cool, then remove from the pan and refrigerate for about 4 hours or until well chilled. Remove the foil liners, garnish, if desired and serve.

A Tray Of Mini Cheesecakes

A Tray Of Mini Cheesecakes

****

I do hope you get a chance to try these mini cheesecakes and if you decide to serve them to your friends, I believe you will receive rave reviews as my mother did and I now do. They are the perfect size for when you want just a little something sweet.  Enjoy!

As the year comes to an end, I’m reminded that when people gather together at midnight on New Year’s Eve and sing Auld Lang Syne, the song of friendship, they pledge that whatever may change in their lives, that old friends will not be forgotten. With that thought in mind, I want to take this time to thank each of you who have enriched my life through your friendship and I hope you will continue to visit Back Road Journal in 2017. I wish you a new year that is filled with peace, happiness and very good health.

 

 

 

Posted in food, Home, lifestyle, photography, recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 251 Comments

Wishing You Peace

Wishing You Peace At Christmas And Throughout The New Year

Wishing You Peace At Christmas And Throughout The New Year

Wishing You Peace At Christmas And Throughout The New Year

Merry Christmas

Posted in Home, lifestyle, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 125 Comments

Taste Testing A Standing Prime Rib For Christmas

Christmas is not the time to experiment with a new recipe to serve your dinner guests but that is what my husband and I will be doing…sort of. We are serving a standing prime rib, many families traditional meal for Christmas, but we are preparing it sous vide for the first time. The cut of meat is far too expensive for it to not to be perfectly cooked so we did a taste test ahead of time. Not only did we want to find a degree of doneness that everyone at the table would like, we also wanted to know that the topping baked on after the sous vide process would give a nice tasting crust to the outside of the meat.

We used a cut from a prime rib having one bone, it was a 1 and 3/4 pound rib eye steak (sometimes called a cowboy steak) and was 2 inches thick. That is about a third of the size we will be preparing for our holiday dinner but the cooking technique will be about the same and the results should be similar. 

Perfectly Cooked Meat, The Taste Test Was A Success

Perfectly Cooked Meat, The Taste Test Was A Success

For those of you that have a home sous vide circulator and have never cooked a prime rib with it, I thought that you might enjoy seeing how our experiment turned out. The inside of the meat was cooked to 129 degrees for medium rare in the sous vide, seared in a skillet, coated with a herb rub and put under the broiler for a nice crust. As you can see from the photo, we served the meat cut into quarter inch slices, alongside stuffed twice baked potatoes and green beans almondine. Everything was delicious and got our stamp of approval for our Christmas Eve dinner we will be sharing with our friends.

Sous Vide Rib Eye "Cowboy" Steak…That Big Hunk Of Meat Needed A Platter Not A Plate

Sous Vide Rib Eye “Cowboy” Steak…That Big Hunk Of Meat Needed A Platter Not A Plate

My husband used a recipe for Herb Crusted Sous Vide Prime Rib from Chefsteps, and adapted the recipe to our 1 3/4 pound cut of meat. Since the meat was smaller and wouldn’t stand on its own in the oven, he only crusted one side and put it under the broiler for a few seconds. He will be following the recipe exactly on Christmas Eve.

You always worry when preparing an expensive cut of meat if it will turn out perfectly cooked and this one was. The flavor of the rosemary crust was delicious and the meat was tender, juicy and cooked to medium rare that our guests will enjoy. We can now buy and cook our large prime rib with confidence after having done our taste test.

****

If you are wanting to serve a new recipe to your family and friends for the holidays, I do suggest trying it out ahead of time. It will let you have the peace of mind of knowing that what you cook will be a memorable meal (in a good way) to all that were at your table. 

My husband bought his latest and greatest toy, a Joule Sous Vide Circulator*, and is now the “mad scientist” in our kitchen. I’m sure you will be seeing lots of new dishes prepared by him in the future if this test was any example of sous vide cooking. 

*This is not a sponsored post, my husband did a lot of research before buying a sous vide circulator, and decided on this particular unit. We believe the recipe will work with any unit that you happen to own.

 

 

Posted in food, Home, lifestyle, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 118 Comments

Braised Short Rib Stew

Braised Short Rib Stew is a deeply flavored dish of succulent chunks of beef short ribs slow cooked in a red wine and mushroom broth until the meat is meltingly tender. Towards the end of cooking, potatoes, carrots and pearl onions are added to the beef and soak up some of the rich, flavorful sauce. The end result is mouth watering delicious.

Braised Short Rib Stew

Braised Short Rib Stew

While the stew cooks in about three hours, this is a recipe that benefits from preparing it a day ahead of time. The flavor of the dish develops over time and the cooking liquid can be defatted after being refrigerated which is a win, win situation as far as I’m concerned.

Braised Short Rib Stew

Recipe serves two, adjust accordingly                                    Preheat oven to 325 degrees

  • boneless beef short ribs, 2 per person about 6 inches long by 1 inch thick, cut in half
  • 1 c. red wine
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme

Place short ribs, wine, garlic, rosemary and thyme in a ziplock bag, seal and refrigerate. Let marinate for 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove the short ribs and dry thoroughly. Reserve the marinade and herbs.

  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 c. mushroom broth (made by soaking several pieces of dried porcini mushroom in boiling water, then strained through a coffee filter to remove any sediment)
  • 4 c. beef broth
  • 1 additional c. red wine
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. anchovy paste

Heat oil a heavy ovenproof pot or Dutch oven. Season the dried short ribs and brown well on all sides in batches (do not overcrowd), add a little more oil if necessary. When brown remove to a plate.

Add the chopped vegetables to the pot, stirring up all the brown bits, and sauté until tender and light brown. Add the reserved marinade and herbs, cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Return the meat to the pot.

Add the bay leaves, both broths, additional wine, and the tomato and anchovy pastes. Bring the ingredients to a simmer, cover the pot and place in the oven. Braise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until the meat is tender. (The stew can also be cooked on the stove top at a low simmer, if you wish). Remove from the oven to cool, then refrigerate covered overnight.

Remove any congealed fat, then gently rewarm stew on the stove top. Remove the meat to a bowl, strain sauce, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Put the sauce back into the pot along with the meat. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.

  • 2 c. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, and cubed
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 c. frozen pearl onions

Now add the potatoes and carrots to the pot and cook uncovered on medium high for ten minutes. Add the pearl onions and cook until the vegetables are tender. If the sauce is too thin, make a slurry with 1 Tbsp. flour and a little red wine and add to the sauce. Cook, stirring gently, for a few minutes more, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Serve the stew in warm bowls.

****

The braised short rib stew is perfect for a chilly night when you are looking for a heartier, comforting meal. Since I like to make this dish a day ahead of time so that the flavors can meld to produce a rich, flavorful sauce, I find that it’s a perfect meal to share with friends. I suggest making extra as I believe your guests will be asking for a second helping.

Posted in food, Home, lifestyle, recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 115 Comments

Restaurant Bareiss, Deserving Of Its Three Michelin Stars

The best of the best…it wasn’t a hard choice when trying to decide which meal my husband and I enjoyed the most while in Germany this year. Restaurant Bareiss, in the well known resort Bareiss, located in the small village of Baiersbronn-Mitteltal was the hands down winner. While we had many delicious meals in other restaurants in Germany, nothing could compete with the lunch prepared by Chef Claus-Peter Lumpp, who has earned three Michelin stars for the restaurant year after year since 2007.

We had made a reservation months in advance for one of the eight tables in the elegant dining room of Restaurant Bareiss. We wanted to make sure that we would be able to experience one of the chef’s multi course tasting menus during our three day stay at this Black Forest resort. Our lunch was everything we hoped it would be.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

We were graciously welcomed into the beautiful dining room by Thomas Brandt, the restaurant manager. After being seated, we ordered a glass of rosé Champagne to enjoy while we decided on our meal. There was a choice of four different complete menus as well as an à la carte menu from which to order. We chose the tasting menu and soon the delicacies started to arrive. The first to come to the table was an Apéritif Étagère, a little tower of canapés, each one a tiny work of art.

Over the course of the next several hours, we were served small, artistically composed dishes. The lunch started with both a cold and warm amuse bouche of mushrooms. I loved the presentation, it reminds you that wonderful mushrooms can be found growing in dense forests of this region.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

After the delicious small gifts from the kitchen, it was on to the creative main courses which were classic French in style but with a modern regional German twist. The first course served was a variation of assorted goose foie gras with fragolino grapes and salted caramel along with a thick slice of brioche.

Assorted Goose Foie Gras With Fragolino Grapes And Salted Caramel

Assorted Goose Foie Gras With Fragolino Grapes And Salted Caramel

Next were two seafood courses. The first was a flamed scallop with smoked sweet corn cream and sour cream. This was a lovely dish with variations on corn including popped and even an ice cream. A white halibut with nut risotto, lemon and butter sauce followed.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

White Halibut With Nut Risotto and Lemon Butter Sauce

White Halibut With Nut Risotto and Lemon Butter Sauce

The fourth and fifth courses were meat based. The fourth was sautéed veal sweetbreads with celeriac, lamb’s lettuce and black truffle vinegar. When I mentioned to Mr. Brandt that I wasn’t sure about this dish because of the sweetbreads, he told me that Chef Lumpp would happily prepare the dish with filet of veal which made me very happy. My husband went with the dish the way the chef intended it to be and we decided both versions were delicious.

The fifth course was variations on deer. There was a saddle of roe deer that came from the Bareiss hunting grounds served with rose hip and romanesco as well as a small dish of braised shoulder of deer.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Next a cheese trolley was pushed over to the table to be served with a selection of grapes, honey, jams and mustard. By now we were getting full, so we didn’t take any fruit and only chose three cheeses from a choice of about fifty perfectly ripe cheeses to share between us. To finish this wonderful meal there was not one but several delicious sweet courses prepared by pastry chef Stefan Leitner. Again, we shared the dessert courses. After all, this was only the second day of our trip and my wardrobe had to fit for the remainder of our holiday.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Jürgen Fendt, the talented sommelier at Bareiss, selected several different glasses of wine from their 20,000 bottle cellar to accompany our lunch, each was a perfect pairing. From beginning to end, everything about this meal was perfection. My husband and I were so pleased when Chef Lumpp came out of the kitchen to ask how we enjoyed the meal and, of course, we gave our very enthusiastic approval.

It Was A Pleasure Meeting Chef Claus-Peter Lumpp

It Was A Pleasure Meeting Chef Claus-Peter Lumpp

****

This extraordinary meal came at the start of our almost month long holiday through Germany and Austria. There is a saying in Germany “nach dem essen sollst du ruhn, oder tausend schritte tun” which translates to after eating, you should rest or do a thousand steps. In Baiersbronn, it is certainly easy to do both as the region has great food and hundreds miles of well marked hiking trails and wonderful wellness resorts. After this meal, I made sure that plenty of steps were taken during the remainder of our holiday.

Posted in food, lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 80 Comments

The Wald And Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe

As you approach the Wald and Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe, you feel like you’ve been invited to stay at a stately country home of an aristocratic German family. The hotel is located on lovely landscaped grounds and consists of several buildings, the most notable being “The Hunting Lodge”. The lodge was built in 1712 by Count Friedrich II and was the former summer residence of the Hohenlohe royal family.

The Wald And Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe Hunting Lodge

The Wald And Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe Hunting Lodge

You know you have arrived at the entrance to the property when you see a large bright red stag statue standing next to the village road.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The hotel is spread out among different buildings on the property. The rooms and suites are located in the main house or the contemporary spa attached to it, the hunting lodge, the gatehouse, or the garden house. All of the rooms are designed and decorated differently. Usually, I would choose to stay in a historical building like the lodge but the two times we have stayed here, I’ve requested a room in the modern spa annex. It is connected to the main house which makes it convenient for using all the hotel’s facilities. It is also nice not to have to go outside to another building if the weather is bad.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

When you book a room at this hotel, the price only includes breakfast which is served in a lovely glass walled conservatory. In the afternoon you can have tea and cakes in the comfortable fireside lounge.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

There are several choices when it comes to where you can dine. The Jägerstube is an informal and comfortable restaurant that serves regional cuisine. There is also a bistro at the spa that serves light and organic dishes. Besides these two restaurants, there is also the Forest Tavern on the grounds but it has never been open when we stayed at the hotel.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

We’ve eaten twice in the beautiful Gourmet restaurant which is formally decorated. They have a new chef since our last visit and we thought the food was very good. It is rated sixteen points by Gault Millau German restaurant guide.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

For a before or after dinner drink, there a small cozy bar and a separate cigar lounge.

The large spa is on three levels with separate men’s and women’s sides with thirteen treatment rooms. The spa uses Vin Sano products which are made from local grapes, using the seeds, cold-pressed grape seed oil and extracts from red wine. There are seven saunas and both an outdoor pool and an indoor pool with a fireplace as its focal point.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

There is also a high-tech fitness room, a tennis court and a twenty-seven hole golf course next door to the hotel. There are also walking trails throughout the area.

The peaceful countryside location of the hotel is in the area of Germany called the Hohenlohe, lying between Stuttgart and Nuremberg, in the German state of Baden Württemberg. It is an ideal base for exploring this area of southwest Germany, including Heidelberg and the well known Romantic and the Castle roads.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

If you like to travel the back roads like we do, you won’t have to travel very far to find charming towns with half-timbered buildings and castles perched on cliff tops in this lovely area of Germany. Many of the castles have been restored into private homes, romantic hotels and museums.

****

We’ve only stayed for two days on each of our two trips to this hotel but there is so much to see in the Hohenlohe region that I have a feeling we will return again in the future. I can just imagine how beautiful this area must be in the spring and summer when the rolling hills are a bloom with wildflowers and fruit trees.

Posted in food, lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 64 Comments

Restaurant Obauer, One Of The Top Four Restaurants In Austria

Obauer Restaurant

Obauer Restaurant

Restaurant Obauer deserves every accolade that it receives. The restaurant is one of only four in Austria to have received four toques and 19/20 points in the Gault & Millau Austria 2017 edition and the restaurant has had this top ranking for years. Not only that, Karl and Rudolf Obauer were chosen as Gault & Millau “Chefs of the Decade” in 2012. Being the food lovers that we are, it is no wonder then that my husband and I have eaten at Obauer every single time we have visited Austria.

The restaurant is in the small village of Werfen, Austria  located in the scenic Salzach valley just about forty kilometers south of Salzburg. You may have heard of the town because located high above it is Eisriesenwelt, the world’s largest ice cave. The 900 year old Hohenwerfen Castle and falconry center is also perched on a high peak above Werfen.

Since we were staying just north of Salzburg, we decided to made a lunch reservation, then took the scenic route to the restaurant. After being seated at our table, Rudi came out of the kitchen to welcome us back to Obauer.

Soon after, little gifts from the kitchen started arriving while we looked at the menu. We looked, no we didn’t read the menu, as we don’t understand a word of German. Not a problem at Obauer, our waitress explained every dish to us and after that, we decided on their four course tasting menu. We were told that we could substitute an item if we chose to and my husband didn’t hesitate a second to decide on the foie gras prepared four ways for his first course…he is so predictable.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The four course menu of the day sounded delicious and I didn’t change a thing.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

There is always a few sweet tastings to go along with a cup of coffee to end the meal.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The meal from the start to the finish was delicious, the food compositions were beautiful and the flavors just amazing. Two brothers as chefs, one fantastic lunch, we’ve never been disappointed with any meal we’ve had at the restaurant.

Not only is the food great at Obauer but chefs Karl and Rudolf Obauer are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. We couldn’t leave without Rudi insisting that we get a photo together in front of the restaurant and presented me with a Obauer apron to remember our visit.

The Chefs Obauer

The Chefs Obauer

  ****

If you are a food lover like my husband and I, the restaurant Obauer should be on your short list of restaurants to eat at if you travel to the Salzburg region. Hopefully, you will have a meal as delicious as the ones we have enjoyed at lunchtime. Of coarse, you can stay at the Obauer hotel, enjoy a multi course meal with wine parings and then head up to bed. Over breakfast in the morning, you can reminisce about your dining experience from the night before. Oh and did I mention the scenery around Werfen, after all you can never see too many castles.

Hohenwerfen Castle In Werfen, Austria

Hohenwerfen Castle In Werfen, Austria

Posted in food, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 80 Comments

Genussdorf Gmachl And The Outskirts Of Salzburg

If you want to enjoy the Austrian countryside and also visit Mozart’s city of Salzburg, hotel Genussdorf Gmachl is the perfect choice of where to stay. Located just five kilometers north of Salzburg, in the urban village of Bergheim bei Salzburg, it is the perfect base for exploring the province of Salzburg and as well as nearby Germany. It takes about ten to fifteen minutes to get into the historic heart of the city from the hotel either by car or by train, the local stop being just a short walk away. If you prefer, you can use one of the hotel’s electric bicycles and bike into town, about a fifteen minute ride along the Salzach river.

Fortress Hohensalzburg Can Been Seen Off In the Distance

Fortress Hohensalzburg, Salzburg’s Famous Landmark Towers Over The Rooftops Of The City

We have stayed at the Genussdorf Gmachl hotel several times and were in for a nice surprise when we returned this year. The hotel, which has been in the Gmachl family for seven generations, has been added on to as well as given a facelift and I love the new look.

The hotel’s bar, restaurant and breakfast room have been totally redone. They also added a second wellness center and thirty additional bedrooms. The new look is a combination of wood, glass, leathers and suede in earth tones with lots of plants and potted herbs to create a natural and contemporary environment that still retains a regional Salzburger style, I think all done very well.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

We didn’t stay in one the new hotel rooms on this trip but instead requested one of their double rooms (Panoramic) where we had stayed on a pervious visit as it has a nice sitting area with a gas fireplace to enjoy on a cool evening and a wonderful view of the gardens, Salzburg and the mountains in the background from the room’s large balcony.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The hotel now has two wellness areas, one for families and another just for adults. The new rooftop infinity pool has a great view of Salzburg, the fortress of Hohensalzburg and the mountains in the distance. There is also a natural swimming pool and whirlpool in the garden area as well as an indoor pool with a swim through to an outdoor pool.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

I love the elements of nature found throughout the hotel including in the new spa and the garden spa. Treatment rooms are even dedicated to different herbs. The new wellness area includes an infusion sauna, a gentle herbal steam bath, an ice plunge, and a large relaxation area. The outdoor lounge area on the roof top terrace is a wonderful place to relax on a sunny day.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Staying at the hotel on the outskirts of Salzburg makes it very convenient for traveling out to the many charming communities in the region, the beautiful lake district or even Berchtesgaden, Germany. After you’ve spent a day in town visiting Mozart’s birthplace, the cathedral, the Residenz, Mirabell Palace and gardens, try to visit the Hellbrunn Palace with its gardens and trick water fountains situated on the outskirts of the city. Other interesting places to visit are the pilgrimage basilica of Maria Plain, Hanger Seven at the Salzburg airport with the Red Bull collection of aircraft, formula one racing cars and art, picturesque Wolfgangsee and the other lakes in the outstanding Salzkammergut district, the salt mines in Hallein or in Berchtesgaden and St. Bartholomew’s church on Lake Königssee, all very enjoyable day trips.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

After a day out exploring this area of Austria or nearby southern Germany, it is nice to return to the hotel to make use of the spa and then head down to have dinner. The restaurant is excellent and has been awarded 13/20 points and a toque by Gault & Millau. Mr. Gmachl himself, stopped by our table each day to inquire if everything was to our liking. The entire staff couldn’t do enough to make sure your meals were just as you wanted.

Our meals were part of the price of our room which included a large breakfast buffet with a nice variety of sausages, cheese, breads and eggs cooked to order, an afternoon buffet with soups, salads, pastries and delicious cakes. Dinner featured specialties of traditional Austrian cuisine as well as international dishes.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

You can order a four course dinner off their regular menu or their light menu…both focasing on local, seasonal and organic products. On two different occasions we had carpaccio, not only of beef but also a seafood one as well. One evening my husband had liver and onions, probably the best either of us have ever tasted. The hotel also has another restaurant “Franz” next door that is a popular meeting place with everyone in the village. They have a nice menu and serve homemade meat and sausage specialties from their own in house butcher shop and deli.

****

Some of the best and most convenient places to stay when visiting Salzburg are on the outskirts of town, especially if you have a car while on your holiday. Genussdorf Gmachl in Bergheim is a nice four star superior hotel that offers modern comfort and traditional charm and my husband and I always enjoy our stays there…now more that ever with the new additions they’ve  added to the hotel.

Posted in lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 76 Comments

Posthotel Achenkirch

Austria may be known for its alpine scenery and world class skiing but it is also known for having some of Europe’s best spas. Just south of the Bavarian border and about a half hour from Innsbruck, is the small village of Achenkirch. It lies just a few kilometers from the northern edge of Lake Achensee, which is the largest mountain lake in the Tyrol region of Austria and totally surrounded by mountains.

Achensee, Austria

Achensee, Austria

That is where you will find Posthotel Achenkirch, a wonderful five star spa resort which is  dedicated to the wellbeing of its guests.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Compared to the other spa hotels my husband and I have stayed at over the years, the Posthotel Achenkirch is different in that it is a resort for adults. The hotel considers itself a retreat for wellness, rest, relaxation and tranquility, so no children under 14 are allowed. The owners want you to enjoy a peaceful environment so that you can recharge your body during your stay.

If you are arriving by car like we did, after checking in, you drive your car into their underground garage where your luggage will be unloaded and your car parked. Parking is free and upon  your departure, the car will be given back to you washed. We were happy to be given a tour to acquaint us with the hotel before heading to our room. The resort is large and consists of eight buildings connected by indoor passages designed like village streets with lamp posts, directional signs, fountains, flowers and lit candles everywhere.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The Posthotel Achenkirch is a blend of relaxed country charm and elegance…warm woods, stone and wood floors, crystal and iron chandeliers, a mix of contemporary and traditional furniture, velvets and leathers, and colors of subdued blues, grays, and browns. The wood and white plaster dining rooms have brown plaid carpet and are set with all white linens and white draped chairs. There is a punch of red plaid on the upholstered chairs in the winter garden dining room.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

We were very happy with the room category we had selected. We had a very spacious junior suite with a lovely sitting area with a flat screen TV, a beautiful marble bathroom with a large soaking tub and a separate walk in shower, his and her’s vanities, one with a TV hidden in the mirror, a separate toilet room and there was a nice balcony looking out at the mountains, the little St. Anna chapel and the local parish church.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The hotel is one of the leading spa resorts in Europe. The water and wellness worlds that make up the spa are huge. At 7000 sq. meters, the spa is one of the largest in the Tyrol region of Austria.  There is an incredible variety of indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, steam baths, an yin yang pool outdoors where you can switch from cold to warm water, a woman’s only section in the spa, 35 treatment rooms as well as rooms for napping and reading.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

In the underground sauna area, there is also an area designed as a sunken temple with a round meditation room. A Shaolin monk from China stays at the hotel six months of the year to teach guests how meditation helps with your health. They also have their own acupuncture specialist at the spa.

For those looking for something more active, you can sign up for daily fitness classes such as yoga, tai chi, Pilates, and Nordic walking. The resort also has tennis courts and its own 9 hole golf course, horse stables and indoor and outdoor riding rinks. The owners of the hotel have the largest private Lipizzaner stud farm in Europe, with 40 white stallions. They are the breed of horses closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria. You can sign up to take riding lessons on one of the horses or perhaps just enjoy a carriage ride pulled by Lipizzaners around the surrounding area.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

This is another resort where all your meals are included in the price of the room. There is a large buffet breakfast, a light lunch of soups, sliced local hams, cheese, salads and fruits, teas and coffees served with pastries in the afternoon and a dinner in the evening. You can order à la carte or have a meal off the buffet that usually is prepared around a different theme each evening. The meal includes a salad, dessert and cheese buffet (one evening was a special cheese night with 74 different cheeses, both local and from other regions of Europe.) There is also a spa menu and many of the products are raised and grown on their own organic farm, one of the largest in the area.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

****

During an afternoon drive through the most southern part of Bavaria a couple of years ago, my husband and I crossed over the border into Austria and discovered the little village of Achenkirch and drove right past this resort without knowing how lovely it was. I’m happy to say that we can now add it to the wonderful list of spa hotels that we have stayed at. If you want to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I believe you would truly enjoy the Posthotel Achenkirch. The hotel is sophisticated and luxurious and yet relaxed and informal, making for a perfect holiday.

 

Posted in lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 70 Comments