Autumn was about to end in Austria, with leaves in the Alps turning golden brown.
The temperature was hovering around 10 degrees Celsius, so for me a down coat and a scarf were good enough to keep myself warm. It was quite pleasant, indeed.
We spent almost a day inside an underground salt mine, and as we stepped out of the cavern the first snow came.
Everyone was thrilled, but I couldn’t help but feel stressed as we took horse-drawn carriage rides to a restaurant by Lake Toplitz in the evening.
Fortunately, the snow was light and the journey was under 10 minutes. All of us were in a good mood when we reached the restaurant.
When I arrived in Austria in July, I was awed by the tranquility of the countryside.
But now darkness had fallen before six, and we couldn’t view the breathtaking scenery of the lake.
Still, the scent of freshly smoked trout on our tables lifted our spirits and perked up our appetite.
Trout from Lake Toplitz are tubby. Smoking is the most common way of cooking them, and heavily smoked fish are more popular than those lightly smoked.
Our tour group of more than 20 people had cleared the stock of over 200 bags of vacuum-packed smoked trout at a local family-run specialty store two days ago.
Each trout was about the length of a forearm, and each bag cost only eight to nine euros (US$8.6-US$9.6).
At the restaurant each order had to be freshly smoked, which meant that the staff could only serve 10 people every 45 minutes.
That’s why we had travelled in three groups by horse-drawn carriage.
We all had our fill of the renowned local fare which went well with horseradish dip. We washed it down with sips of white wine.
Everyone appeared warm-hearted as the night deepened.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 16.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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