AUSTRIA: Kounting Kalories/Kalories Don't Kount in Kühtai

Hello from a town called Kühtai in the Austrian territory of the Alps. Don’t ask how I ended up here – irrelevant! What you need to know is that it’s the first stop on a jaunt through this breadcrumb-crusted country which will also take me to Salzburg, Vienna, and perhaps a local emergency room.

Into winter sports and/or sexy foreign ski bums and planning on hitting Kühtai? Look at you, cool, cultured cutie. But you don’t eat meat? No worries. Don’t eat gluten? Fine. Don’t eat dairy? You can make it work if you're, like, one of those overachieving A student types. Gluten-free vegan tho? Uh, maybe you should forget about it. Austria as a whole is known for its cakes, a fact that totally makes sense when you realize flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and milk take up ALL of its national food pyramid squares. 

That said, fooooodie phrases like “farm to table” and “nose-to-tail” come naturally with the cuisine, so quality of ingredients is always super high. And luckily, nice hotels dominate the lodging situation, which means the pesky language barrier POOFS, as does the need to kill your brain cells translating grocery store labels.

Unfortunately, mine, the Jagdschloss Kühtai, is known to have the best food in the area. What’s ~unfortunate~ about that, you spoiled c***?! Let’s put it this way bitch: when the animal products are only more absurdly #local than they are delicious and the Patissier makes every single portion of dessert himself, I’m NOT about be dismissing marzipan, or asking for fish instead of meat, or for that fish to be cooked in oil instead of butter. And thank God, because everything gourmet is innately doused in butter. EVERYTHING! Vegetables are cooked in butter. Eggs are cooked in butter. Even plain white rice and white potatoes are tossed in butter. (Which, truthfully, kind of breathes this fun new un-Great Depression life into them. But butter is the Devil, I totally get it.)

So how do we deal when we finally succumb to being #THICC(CCC)?

DELUSIONAL AND ONLY SLIGHTLY GLAMOROUS TACTICS TO DEAL WITH INEVITABLE EUROPEAN INDIGESTION AND HALF-HEARTED FEAR OF WEIGHT GAIN

1. AGGRO 2x/DAILY DOSAGE OF PB8 PROBIOTIC

2. Drink espressos and/or Americanos like a mad person (on an empty stomach in the a.m. and to cap every meal). Reap those laXXXative benefits!

         (or, if you’re like me and coffee gives you repulsive cystic acne –)

2.5 Swap out your usual black tea for 3-5 cups of green daily. Supposedly you can burn, like, 100 extra calories, and if we say enough Hail Marys perhaps all those antioxidants will reverse the wrinkle- (and cancer!-) inducing sugar side effects???

3. Water water water water, until you think you may be drowning internally. Austria has great tap.

4. Apertifs! Chic AND chock-full of “polyphenol compounds,” whatever those are. All I know is that dry Vermouths BURN when you drink them, and “the burn means it’s working!” Medicinal as fuck!

5. (This might be my favorite because it’s CONFIRMED by an ACTUAL EUROPEAN PERSON) Red wine! My mom’s German bff says the antioxidants in it cut through fat and that it IS the reason Euro women are not heavy. My #1 trusted news source for serious news, The Daily Mail, also confirmed in a 2015 article ;)

Then there are other important things like EXERCISE – downhill or cross-country skiing and sweating in the sauna, le duh – and PORTION CONTROL. I remain utterly flabbergasted by how CIVILIZED the portions are here. Croissants are downright delicate! Soup bowls are shrunken. Even tea and coffee are served in these fun-sized little cups. If you see me consuming a Venti ever again, please dispose of me in a Venti-sized trash bag. 

It should also be noted that I don’t really see Europeans snack. Well, there was this one white-blonde, leather-tanned, totally toned middle-aged lady that looked so Italian but spoke German-level harshly…she wore a neon orange ski suit and I was v obsessed with her…I’d see her in the lobby at 4pm eating a banana with hot lemon water. But that kind of proves my point. Everyone else just DRINKS the moment they feel a pit in their stomach!

LOW POINTS HAVE INCLUDED

-ordering a “field salad” and receiving bacon bit-smothered pan-fried potatoes resting gently atop a small pile of greens (see above)

-using my fork to remove and ingest pine nuts (which btw are oversized+twelve times better here) one by one from a pile of risotto in a temporary carb-freakout

-realizing that there was flour in beef stew (goulash)

-realizing that there was flour -- and butter -- coating my filet of trout

-eating red curry out of desperation and realizing it was tastier than any Thai food I've had in Manhattan for the past 3 years. #gentrification

 

AND IN CONCLUSION

Austrian "safe" foods include and are generally limited to: sausage; meat filets and all the cured varieties; fish/seafood (but ASK if it’s dredged in flour); smoked salmon; rice; potatoes; cheese; yogurt; fruit; nuts; salad (but good luck obtaining one); SUGAR!!!! <3

ASPEN, HAPPILY EVER APRÈ$

I managed to get the repeat invite for a ski weekend in Aspen with my glamorous friend's glamorous family at The Little Nell. Aspen is a unique mix of stoner ski bums and ultra-upscale living: "race you to the bottom" by day, "where the fuck is my caviar" by...mid-day. Some of the latter group can be intolerable, but also a breed of entertainers like no other. My tips for survival include A. Dress crazy - the slopes are a runway; B. Hit said slopes early to avoid inexperienced fuckbois; C. keep an #overheard quote log; D. Drink the minute the clock strikes 3pm.   

Check Instagram for the sliver of real debauchery I decided to publicize, or read below for an unoffensive guide to eating, drinking, and getting high (legally, duh).

AJAX TAVERN

Just when you think, upon snagging a table at the "Tavern," that you've managed to temporarily escape the materialistic insanity around you, think again. Sure, it's easy to feel comforted by trays of burgers and fries and beers, but take a moment to observe what's on top of those frites (truffles + grana padano cheese) and who they're being delivered to (women -- and men -- in floor-length minks and diamonds the size of my areola). That said, Ajax's take on the classic American combo is known for being tasty. So is the kale and quinoa caesar, frisée aux lardons, curried lentil and sweet potato plate, and, um, the homemade Bloody Mary mix. I got mine extra spicy, extra lemon, and with (extra) Chopin.

Fun fact: I witnessed a woman with a bad nose job order a bowl of raw, undressed baby spinach for lunch here. It's like, bitch, just. don't. eat. 

(Kids, if you want a REAL tavern feel, please head uphill to Bonnie's.) 

THE ASPEN KITCHEN

YUUUUM y'all. I mean really, holy SHIT. Aspen Kitch recently re-opened to a royal fanfare of controversy - which I happen to think is the tastiest seasoning - but one bite of this nosh will shoot even the saltiest hater to the ground. Vegetarians can get down eating beignet-like polenta fries, kale salad with pickled cashews, or a whole-roasted cauliflower in Indian spices, but this place is truly a carnivorous wet dream. Lavender honey-lacquered bacon, hanging from a clothesline? CHECK. Suckling pig, served not in its whole form but as a wholly appetizing brick of pulled pork, topped with crispy skin and gluten-free raspberry beer-braised cabbage? CHECK. So-good-you'll-cry 30 day aged beef, cooked on a salt brick? CHEEEECK MATE. If you can, please do the glutards all a favor and finish off with warm cookies and Kahlua-spiced milk, or donuts that you fill YOURSELF with espresso martini or hot buttered rum. THAT'S luxxxury.

CACHE CACHE 

Perhaps most well-known for its...air, which constantly smells intoxicatingly of garlic butter night in and night out. I low-key believe they've managed to bottle the smell, synthesize it, and pump it out 24/7 to get unsuspecting mouths watering, a la the sidewalks outside Dylan's Candy Bar (where one gets seduced by waffle cones from two long-ass blocks away). Literally everything is delicious; half of my Gluten Bucket List is comprised of this menu. I was lucky enough to go twice; life's all Gucci when it ain't lived on your own dime. 

Night 1

Appetizer: Warm frisée salad doused in bacon/garlic/shallots/balsamic dressing/a perfectly runny organic egg from local Eagle Springs farm

Entrée: Colorado striped bass + golden rice & toasted almonds, broccolini, cherry tomatoes, Nicoise olives, capers, herbed tomato broth, and French virgin olive oil

Night 2

Appetizer: Black mussels in onion+tomato+garlic, lobster broth, and Pernod (French anise liqueur, mmm)

Entrée: Wild Ecuadorian shrimp + jasmine rice, broccolini, bok choy, ginger-garlic-scallion oil (A mango-lime-miso dressing had to be put on the side because of soy sauce. I was told it was diviiiiiine, darlings.)

What makes my heart skip a full dozen beats, though, is perhaps the simplest item on the menu: Boulder roast chicken, served in a HULKING portion with french fries, best eaten with your hands. And if you know what's good for you, never, EVER miss the chocolate mousse parfait. 

SHLOMO'S

Picture your Jewish grandpa. Not Jewish and confused? Turn on Curb Your Enthusiasm; add a bit of a well-lived pot belly and a thicker Old Country Yiddish accent. Now, picture that man adorned in blue-lensed aviators, posed against a backdrop of snowy, serene mountains, and flanked by shaka-wielding snowboarders, all while holding a Carnegie Deli cheesecake box. Crazy? Sexy? Cool? All of the above. Welcome to the world of Shlomo Ben-Hamoo.

His latest venture (homie's been on the scene for 35 years, #OGAlert) at the base of Aspen Mountain boasts insane grilled cheeses, Reubens and Pastrami (imported from Carnegie Deli, #OGALERT), mounds of fresh white fish salad, and some of the greatest potato latkes I have ever put into my mouth. The quinoa tabbouleh may sound out of place but feels amazing on the tastebuds. No need for truffles EVERY day of the week, you know?

PLACES THE HOT DUDES AT KITH AND IN THE DISPENSARIES AND CARRYING BAGS AT MY HOTEL AKA NOT EMBARRASSING DRUNK OLD PEOPLE LIKE TO DRINK (THEY TOLD ME):

Eric's Bar

Mi Chola

Justice Snow

The Living Room in the Jerome Hotel

MY FAVE PLACES TO BUY WEED:

Native Roots (#1! great prices, knowledgeable staff)

Roots Rx (get the low-THC teabags & birthday cake white chocolate)

Green Dragon Cannabis (largest selection of edibles in Colorado, boo ya. Ask for Mark.)

DESPERATE FOR NOURISHMENT AFTER ALL THIS BODY TRASHING?

Jus

And In Conclusion:

"My horse is racing in Dubai next year." #overheard

Photo edits: Jenna Demchuk

West Anderson's Bar Luce, Milano

“While I do think it would make a pretty good movie set, I think it would be an even better place to write a movie.”

Perhaps a short film about the afternoon in which I died and entered film nerd Heaven. I made it to the Wes Anderson-designed Bar Luce in the Fondazione Prada contemporary art museum today, and it was about the closest one can get to the set of the Grand Budapest Hotel. In other words, I cannot stop smiling. Wish I could have taken everyone with me.

Welcome to Utah

Below, in no particular order, are a list of thoughts I had during tonight's Jazz v Wolves game, likely fueled by a sugar high from Bon Bon's ridiculous cotton candy and honey-flavored ice creams.

  1. How does the referee hierarchy work? Like, how does one move up the ranks from grade school to college ref, D3 to D1, D1 to NBA? Are some referees more qualified than others? How the hell can you even determine that? Does one need to audition to become a referee? Does pursuing a career in referee-ing run in families? Are refs also elitist off the court?

  2. I wonder what goes through the head of the person inside a mascot. Do they do cocaine before games? Poppers?

  3. Hayward's hot.

  4. Hayward's Alex Turner haircut lit-er-a-lly took him from farm boy to rockstar like DRAMATIC transformation wtf

  5. Ingles may be missing a tooth (I think) but as far as white guys on the Jazz go, he's actually better looking than Hayward.

  6. Is yelling "BUCKETS!!!" every time a shot goes up a Salt Lake City tradish? Because the man behind me needs to swallow a bucket of silence and maybe some arsenic ASAP

  7. Is arsenic gluten-free

Anyway, here's a picture of said ice cream. It's great quality, local, and unlike so many other arena vendors, not a chain. They also have awesome looking dairy-free sorbets - hopefully my milk-intolerant compadres will exercise some more self control than I did. Subsequent gas problems -- a warm welcome to Utah indeed.