Munich dropped from golden, 25-degree autumn sunshine to below zero. I've been collecting coats and gloves, as well as hats and socks and scarves for my first winter in Europe - and now I think I've already used them all in one weekend.
I've been out and about in the snow to run errands over the weekend and quickly learned that a hat with a rim and a good coat work better than an umbrella or a beanie when it snows. The rim of a hat keeps the snowflakes from getting into my eyes (believe me, it hurts!) and, since it's too cold for the ice to melt, I can simply 'dust' off the snowflakes on my coat whenever I reach my destination.
Last night when I walked home after dinner with friends, the sidewalk was already covered in snow dust and I also noticed a thick layer of snow icing the autumn leaves and cars outside. So this morning I couldn't wait to see the winter wonderland in the daylight. It's the season's first snow and it's fairy tale pretty.
One of the greatest pleasures about living in Europe is the seasonal ingredients I can pick up at the open air markets on my way through the central city. Seasons are truly embraced here in Bavaria and meals (even restaurant menus) are planned around the local ingredients available at the time. At the moment porcini mushrooms abound and you can also pick them in the forests yourself if you know what to look for.
In Germany they are called Steinpilz (stone mushrooms) and I love how the vendor around the corner from my office carves little characters into his porcini display.
This morning I celebrated the snow with some of the mushrooms I bought from this stall, sautéed in butter and relished on toasted Bauernbrot (farmer's rye bread) for breakfast. Apparently these mushrooms also have powerful anti-viral properties, which is a perfect health perk for me as my body gets used to this sudden drop in temperature.
Everything is so quiet when it snows. Almost like a hush that highlights special moments such as unwrapping the brown paper from my fresh porcino mushrooms and savouring the aromas as it melts into the butter - and later, in my mouth.
I've saved a few mushrooms for making pasta later so I can set off its earthy, nutty flavours with a glass of red wine, or a little grappa, as the afternoon unfolds.