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Butterflies whirl through the air that is alive with the scent of flowers and alpine meadows. The sheer numbers of them make me stop and wonder: It has become rare to witness such a bountiful display of butterflies in the air. The alpine mountain district of Kleinwalsertal, in the very north-western corner of Austria, offers them an unspoiled home at more than 1.000 metres above sea-level. The air is still fresh here, and visitors are drawn to its healing powers immediately. Now, there are countless hiking destinations all over Austria. So what makes the Kleinwalsertal especially popular? It is a combined strength of pure nature, regional identity and – gourmet food!
Kleinwalsertal means sustainability in its purest sense. Local economic cycles built on nature and the creativity of its people are immediately appealing to us as visitors.
One of our first sensory impressions of Kleinwalsertal is this heavenly beef sausage wrapped in local mountain herbs: “Älpler Steckle”, a delicatessen food produced by local Kleinwalsertal butchers. For more than two years, the valley has been awarded the Austrian quality label “Genuss Region Österreich – Beef & Game from Kleinwalsertal“, crediting its high food production standards. Regional specialities, such as local cattle breeds and mountain game, are celebrated by a series of local food events called “GenussTage” at the beginning of the summer season. One such event is the “GenussMarkt” gourmet food market, allowing us a chance to meet and interact with the local people, their unique products and sense of traditional farming in this area for over 700 years.
I have to admit it, I am still (quite) excited! Starting with my visit to the “GenussMarkt“, my “Lebensfeuer” medical heart rate analysis has actually started “burning”: Klaus Peter, my host at Hotel Gemma, is a trained “Lebensfeuer” professional who I trust in finding out more about myself. What the “Lebensfeuer” heart variability check really is, how it measures my heart’s vitality index over 24 hours and just how it tells me more about myself, is what you can read here. One of the activities that certainly made my heart beat faster is our trip up the mountain top on the Walmendingerhorn mountain cable car. Check this out.
Local restaurants & farmers tie the knot over a common love for quality food production: Meet Margit, Max & young organic farmer Ralph!
Right after my trip with the mountain cable car, the series of “Walser GenussTage” foodie events has offered me a chance to do a hike of a kind: “Storytelling here”, is what it silently reads on Margit’s forehead, a local innkeeper in the truest sense of the word. She is just so passionate about her home, her mountains, her herbs and her flowers growing by the wayside of the trail we take, that you cannot help but absolutely fall for her – and the stories she has to tell.
First of all, our hiking experience with Margit leads us straight into … the kitchen of the Hotel Alte Krone in Mittelberg.! Of course, this trip being all about gourmet foodie events, we are shown exactly which beef parts are cooked, stewed, simmered or fried as part of the typical local cuisine here. The meat in the kitchen looks excellent, just as chef Max who wears the proudest of smiles. A sense of dedication for good quality food fills the air, enhanced by the sweet scent of local flowers, cool running streams and happy people. We might not always understand each word of their “Walserisch” mountain dialect, but what we do is this: People are happy here, relaxed into a knowledge of the immaterial wealth that nature in this particular mountain district offers them.
Consider taking a bite of the juiciest cheese cake in the whole world … right here in Kleinwalsertal!
Let me ask you: Who of you has already tried the best cheese cake in the whole world? Aaah, but you haven’t been to Kleinwalsertal yet! Fresh mountain butter. Tasty, oh so tasty cheese. Happy munching cows, who eat nothing else but fresh herbs and grass during their whole life, in a world that has seen little or no contamination whatsoever. What sounds like “just another stupid advertisement slogan”, is actually true in the purest sense of the word here in Kleinwalsertal. Pure in taste that is: Taste that is never manufactured, but taste that arrives with time, maturity and lots of love – love for the animals, the people as well as the nature we all live in.
On this particular Sunday morning here in the mountains, I set off with my friends & travel bloggers Christina & Thomas, of CitySeaCountry, in order to take a peek at the cheese maker’s farm by the name of “Melköde” at the very bottom end of the Kleinwalsertal valley. To learn what he is doing when we arrive here at half past nine in the morning: Cleaning up, that is! “We start our working days making cheese between five and six in the mornings”, the young man calls out cheerfully, talking to us about his life as a boy shepherd during his summer vacation. He then moves on to feeding his “family”, a bunch of goats with their young who are just awfully sweet to look at! After walking for a good hour to arrive here at the “GenussHütte Melköde” awarded quality label mountain hut, we get some rest with the most amazing cheese cake I have ever tried … ain’t no better taste to food after you have done some exercise, too!
Last but not least, let me tell you more about a very special mountain brunch. A cup of “Lebensfeuer” vitalizing herb tea. And Christine’s garden paradise at the Hörnlepass mountain inn!
Food combined with a love for Austrian mountain never stops, that is for sure. The very last activity of our trip into Kleinwalsertal is again a gourmet foodie event that turns out to be a “second breakfast of a kind”: Sweet music is played to us sampling traditional mountain cheese, sausages and spreads at Bärgunt hut at the foot of the Widderstein, the highest mountain of Kleinwalsertal. Next to such amazing heights, we cannot help but become awestruck. No noise distracts us around here, no industrial buildings, not even houses – there is NOTHING to deflect our gaze from the pure beauty of nature. The world might end here, is what you think: An ideal place if you want to “get away from it all” and find true love – peace, that is.!
Disclaimer: We have been invited by Kleinwalsertal Tourism Board and Hotel Gemma to travel to Kleinwalsertal mountain food district. All opinions are my own.