“According to legend, there once was a haunted castle hidden between the jagged peaks of Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. A farmer found the castle and discovered a cellar packed with barrels of the most delicious wine he had ever known. The farmer started to collect some of the wine in a leather pouch but suddenly three ghosts appeared. They told the terrified farmer that if he swore to keep the location of the cellar a secret, he could take as much wine as he’d like. A few nights later, the farmer drank too much at a local tavern and revealed the location of the mysterious cellar. His drinking companions went to the spot, and as they approached, the castle dissolved into thin air.
The legend persists to this day; ask about the castle and you’ll be told that it still exists somewhere in these mountains, but you will not find anyone willing to reveal its location.” ( Quoted from The Wine Enthusiast).
I think we found that castle right across the valley from where we were staying. On a foggy morning we captured several picture like the one above that gave this particular castle an ethereal, mystical aura. The Dolomites are the roof top of Italy, sitting on the Swiss and Austrian borders. Dolomite, a pink granite, forms craggy peaks and changes color from orange to purple to pink as the day progresses. In the native Ladin language of the isolated people of this region they have a word for the dolomite color; enrosdadira, meaning becoming pink.
Alpine meadows dot the landscape with charming villages clustered together in verdant fields.
But getting there was a hair pin drive in snowy conditions. You can tell by the look on my face that I am not in my natural element. Trying to smile but . . . .
This was our final destination.
It was a most welcoming Tyrolean chalet on a hillside overlooking the meadows. The name of our chalet was Schonblick. Most chalets have names. This region retains its Austrian Alpine roots and many of the Swiss style houses are adorned with flower pots on the terrace and the feeling that at any minute someone is going to break out in song to “The hills are alive with the sound of music”.
The reason we were in the Dolomites was because the guys wanted to ride the Stelvio Pass. It is a famous curvy road loved by motorcyclists the world over. Unfortunately the weather conditions were too dangerous for them to attempt it.
But they enjoyed lots of other interesting roads. Tulin and I took a safer route in the car, but were still challenged by the drive. We all ended up at Schonblick in the late afternoon, settled into our comfortable house and had dinner in the village. Gudon is a very small village. It has one restaurant and one Pizzeria. The food in this area is heavily influenced by Austria and Germany. The local Ladin people have embraced food from Austria, Germany and Italy, creating an interesting cuisine. It is heavy on pork products like speck and sausages. Our dinner was an extravaganza of meats. I thought we had pictures of the meal, but could not find them amongst the myriad pictures that we took.
But David made an excellent sausage and savoy cabbage dinner for us when we got home. I am not doing much of the cooking right now. After a fabulous vacation in Italy, I went to the hospital and had surgery to remove plates and pins from my leg; something I have been putting off for a long time. My dear artist friend Carole sent me this card and it just about sums it up, although my leg is only taped. I will be back in the kitchen soon!
As a nod to the food of The Dolomites, David made this Seared Savoy Cabbage with Mixed Sausages. Enjoy before a roaring fire.
SEARED SAVOY CABBAGE WITH MIXED SAUSAGES (Epicurious)
1 1 1/2-pound head savoy cabbage, cut into 8 wedges with some core attached
1 cup 1″ crustless bread cubes
1 teaspoon mustard powder
8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds mixed sausages 9such as sweet Italian, kielbasa, and smoked garlic)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season heavily with salt. Cook cabbage wedges until crisp-tender but not falling apart, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Pulse bread cubes in a food processor until coarse crumbs form; transfer to a medium bowl. Add mustard powder and stir to coat.
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs; stir frequently until golden, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to cool.
Whisk 3 tablespoons oil, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Season mustard vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking. Working in 2 batches and adding remaining 1 tablespoon oil between batches, sear cabbage wedges until dark and crispy edges form on both cut sides, 3-4 minutes per side.
Cook sausages in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through 9time will vary depending on variety and whether fresh or fully cooked).
Transfer cabbage to a platter; arrange sausages around. Scatter breadcrumbs and tarragon over. Serve mustard vinaigrette on the side.