I had the loveliest day today. I have a friend from high school who lives in Munich now, and between vacations and work, he arranged his schedule to “pop down to Italy for lunch” on his birthday with a 3-hour train ride each way. He has a favorite restaurant in the mountains over a charming town, Vipiteno/Sterzing. I had a lovely hour-long train ride north along the Dolomites, following a fast-flowing aquamarine river. I got on an earlier train than anticipated and wandered around the main street and piazza for a while, encountering plenty of alpine-wear shops and interestingly enough, a Pringles dispenser, which looked like a giant gumball machine with mini Pringles cans inside. Italians do take their Pringles seriously. They have a Paprika flavor, a Ham and Cheese flavor, and apparently an illusive Rosemary and Olive Oil flavor I haven’t encountered yet but remain committed to my journalistic duty to try them and report back. At any rate, I met David and after walking around a bit, we took a taxi up to the restaurant/farm. It was straight out of anything you picture when you think Austrian ski lodge–dark wooden benches, flowers on the table, antlers on the walls. And, oh, the view! They had no menu, the owner simply came up to us and described what they had on hand. I understood most of it, though some of the meat-related vocabulary was unfamiliar, such as the Wolleschwein, which is a long-haired wooly pig (cute, yes; delicious, yes!). I just went with whatever the owner spent the most time describing since he clearly was invested in it. I found it amusing when David asked if the animals that supplied the meat and the cheese were from his farm, and he said apologetically that they were from the next farm over. Oh, the shame! We started with a lovely antipasto of local meats and cheeses with dark bread and glorious German mustard. The second course consisted of knödel (dumplings) of spinach, cheese, and basil and a puff pastry filled with cheese and herbs. The third was a veal steak with roasted potatoes and 3 different varieties of gourmet salt. We paired with a glass of local wine, and needless to say, we didn’t make it to dessert. I’m still full and unsure what if anything I’ll eat for dinner. The food was wonderful, but the company was even better. I’m so glad we were able to get together for a few hours. I will definitely take him up on his invitation to come and stay in Munich. I just noticed a Tai Chi class happening in the park outside my window. I think it’s just what I need to work off some of the amazing lunch. Tomorrow I’m going to see if I can work out the bus schedule another town Ortesei. Eric and Nate arrive on Friday, so more adventures to come with them in tow.
In Gus news: he had a lesson with a different professor, and he said it went very well. He’s getting quite a bit done on college essays, though he thinks it will take some doing to get his Spanish back for his Spanish Literature class in the fall.