It took me quite some time to realize how close to Austria I actually was. Climbing the Helm mountain finally puts things into perspective, and now I know that had I taken a misstep and were unfortunate enough to fall down the cliff on the south-eastern side, I (or rather my body) would have landed squarely on the Austrian territory.
That’s why the dish is still called Brettljause in the menu of the Hahnspielhütte. If it were up to me, I would have called it a Marende – the Speck, the Kaminwürzen and the cheese sending the message all too clearly. On the other hand, there is some Salami there, too, and the quality of it is such that I simply cannot ignore it. The cheese, too, is featured in three distinct thickly cut sorts – distinct in their appearance if not in the taste.
If I were to make the difference between Austrian and non-Austrian, it would have been the horseradish that had pushed the scales for me: the creamy horseradish, although existent in the can form in Austria, is not what you regularly get as part of a Brettljause. It’s not bad, and it serves as a fair replacement for any kind of spread, but it’s still a creamy horseradish at the end of the day.
Let’s face it: if you visit the Pustertal for five days or longer, you will take the cable car up the Helm mountain and you will (or would be very stupid not to) eat at the Hahnspielhütte. If your holidays are shorter (which is a stupid decision, by the way), you will not miss much, but you will miss something.