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Alpine Pasture Stories: Falbesoner Ochsenalm in Stubaital Valley
Maridl Schmid, the host and innkeeper at Falbesoner Ochsenalm Alpine Pasture Hut, is quite an institution. On duty in her modest kitchen she wears a simple pinafore with a white apron instead of a chic dirndl dress. And she is on duty daily during Alpine pasture season, which are the warm summer months. Not this year, unfortunately. Just in the year of her 60th birthday, she has to undergo surgery, which means she can be up on the Alpine Pasture Hut only occasionally.
But no worries, guests will be treated to culinary delights nevertheless. As long as Maridl has to recover, her six children, nieces, nephews and other relatives will ‘run the show’. Even her famous, homemade, original Stubai Cheese Striezel will be prepared by one of Maridl’s cousins. And homemade bread will be available, too!
Maridl Schmid has taken over Falbesoner Ochsenalm from her mother. She is the soul of the Alpine Pasture Hut.
From own production: Falbesoner Ochsenalm is one of the few remaining Alpine pasture huts where milk, butter and grey cheese are still produced locally.
Thinking of that bread alone makes my mouth water! Well, truth be told, not alone that bread. It’s best enjoyed with some grey cheese and Alpine pasture butter. This special kind of butter is made on premises in wooden butter moulds, which have beautiful motifs to decorate the butter patties.
A Popular Stubai Destination for Foodies
Falbesoner Ochsenalm is one of Stubai Valley’s few remaining Alpine pasture huts where milk, butter and grey cheese are still produced locally. Usually, making butter and cheese is among the tasks of Maridl; this year local dairyman Lois Siller does the job for her. Maridl is glad there are so many people lending a helping hand. Nevertheless she intends to return to the Alpine pasture as soon as she gets back on her feet again. “I simply feel better up there. And when I am too weak to work, I can at least tell my helpers what and how to do,” she says with a twinkle in her eyes. And she hopes that visitors will be patient and understanding in case things aren’t going like clockwork.
It’s a family affair – with cleaning the mushrooms and with everything else.
Given this stunning Alpine paradise, how could anyone not be patient and understanding? The hearty specialties are served with incredible views of a waterfall and of Neue Regensburger Hut and to the sound of babbling Falbesoner Bache brook. Is there anything else you could possibly ask for? Well, the “Kaiserschmarren” they ordered at the next table looks and smells that tempting that probably even the grazing cattle would like to give it a try.
The Manifold Gifts of Nature
The hut of Falbesoner Ochsenalm is a popular rest stop en route to Neue Regensburger Hut and is a member of Stubai Inns and Restaurants of Culinary Excellence. These restaurants strive not only to welcome guests with warm hospitality; they also source all products locally. Maridl and her family embodied the locally grown, fresh-food movement long before it was popular. They love the natural life and bring to the table what they produce themselves on the Alpine pasture hut.
Falbesoner Ochsenalm is a member of Stubai Inns and Restaurants of Culinary Excellence, which offer locally sourced farm-to-table menus.
“Although it’s often hard work, Mother Nature gives back in many ways. There are manifold gifts growing up here. All you have to do is look around you at the Alpine pastures,” says Maridl. “Many healing herbs grow on the mountain slopes and we find mushrooms in the forest, which make a superb goulash.”
Apart from amazing foods, Mother Nature grows wonderful, beneficial ingredients for healing elixirs and ointments. As a mother of six, Maridl had to be economical and her herbal knowledge proved to be helpful in many an occasion. As a passionate hunter, she often goes for marmots. With its rich healing properties, marmot fat has many applications for a very wide range of ailments, from pains in ones joints to sore throat.
Most of the herbs and plants she uses for her liquid extracts and ointments grow up on the Alpine pastures. Fields of St. John’s Wort grow on the base of rock faces. The yellow flower has been used for hundreds of years in folk medicine. Maridl makes her own St. John’s Wort Oil that is ideal for healing scars. Moreover, she collects Wild Thyme, Arnica and Masterwort to prepare elixirs that alleviate sore muscles and growing pains.
The Alpine Pasture – A Matter of the Heart
Falbesoner Ochsenalm is in possession of a farmers’ cooperative and Maridl’s parents owned a part of it. When her mother died, Maridl spent the summers on Falbesoner Ochsenalm together with her father. The Alpine Pasture has always been a matter of the heart for her.
Photo Credits: Jörg Koopmann
In 2005, Maridl rented Falbesoner Ochsenalm herself and ran it together with her uncle. Her children used to help her during the summer school holidays, while Maridl’s husband preferred to stay down in the valley. Today, Maridl sees her work as her legacy: “My parents introduced me to life on the Alpine pasture, which is a very valuable asset for me. They showed me the way into finding my life purpose!”
Regular visitors to Falbesoner Ochsenalm hope that Maridl will be healthy soon again and able to spend many more summers up there. If you meet such a warm person at a beautiful place like this, it feels like coming home.
Falbesoner Ochsenalm is readily accessible from the hamlet of Falbeson, a part of Neustift im Stubaital, within a 1.5 hour walk. Learn More