In September 2010 I visited family and friends in Ruhpolding, my hometown. Afternoon coffee at the Windbeutelgräfin ranked high on the agenda. Below is an account of this gourmet experience that portrays a typical Sunday pastime across Germany…
“Thump…” The 18th century oak door closes shutting out a rainy afternoon. The historical farm house envelops us with light, radiating warmth and a low hum of conversation punctuated by occasional laughter spilling from individual rooms off the foyer.
Subtle scents of coffee and baking immediately transport me back to my childhood. A Sunday afternoon with coffee, hot chocolate and cake is a weekly cultural ritual. Small cafés line main streets in every town. Locating a gem like the “Windbeutelgräfin”, a converted farm house away from the main shopping district in Rupolding is a welcome find.
“Haben Sie Platz für uns?” I ask the hostess to accommodate our group.
“Ja, kommt nur rein.” She quickly pushes two tables together and brushes invisible crumbs from chair cushions.
We huddle close to de-cypher the menu. The speciality is “Windbeutel,” an oversized swan shaped cream puff filled with two cups of lightly sweetened whip cream. Various cakes and squares round up the offerings.
“So, was kann ich bringen?” The efficient waitress, notepad and pencil in hand is poised to take our orders. Dressed in the traditional “Dirndl”, a tightly fitted bodice accentuates the low cut blouse and attached full skirt with contrasting apron. She could pass as the model for a beer stein slinging Octoberfest ad.
Will it be a cup or a pot of coffee? One piece of cake each or will we share? Throwing caution and best laid diet plans to the wind we order individual Sunday afternoon ‘sugar shocks’.
Mere moments pass, the waitress and her entourage deliver plates with delectable sweets, steaming coffee and hot chocolate topped with a swirl of airy whip cream.
Theresa, my Canadian travel companion is at a loss for words. Her eyes assess each sweet creation. She lifts her hot chocolate and takes a tentative sip which immediately paints a big smile on her face. “Did you organize this for me? Or is this what happens every Sunday in this country?”
“I wish I had connections like that. This is your ubiquitous Sunday afternoon ritual in Germany and Austria.” I reply.
It’s time, we lift our forks and scoop the first sample of our selections. A hush falls over our group. We engage our taste receptors. Theresa wields her fork annihilating her “Windbeutel”, a stunning creation of Choux pastry filled with whipped cream and fresh berries. Soon her plate resembles a battle field. She emerges the clear winner, licking the last bit of cream from the right corner where upper and lower lips meet.