The Thermen- & Vulkanland Steiermark takes hospitality very seriously. Numerous inns, wine taverns and prestigious restaurants recognised with the famous Gault Millau ‘chef’s hat’ award are sure to set foodie pulses racing. Wine tavern after wine tavern can be found nestled within the rolling vineyard hills, with exquisite award-winning establishments and producers of traditional Styrian specialities tucked in between.
The Buschenschänken wine taverns of Styria, so different to the “Heurige” wine taverns in more northerly areas, have their own inimitable character and are famous for their “Brettljaus’n” (a platter of Styrian specialities served on a wooden board and always too generous for one person alone to manage).
If you prefer something a little more exclusive, then the numerous Award-winning establishments will be right up your street. The number of award-winning chefs in the Thermen- & Vulkanland is quite astounding. For example, the winner of “Austria’s Chef of the Year 2015” Richard Rauch is to be found cooking up a storm in the Thermen- & Vulkanland Steiermark, specifically at the “Steira Wirt” in Trautmannsdorf near Bad Gleichenberg, where he and his sister Sonja run a distinguished restaurant (awarded four chef’s hats) with an adjoining boutique hotel.
And of course the wine! The “Vulkanland Steiermark DAC” winegrowing region is a paradise for white wine specialists. Lots of little wine islands, most of which are dotted among the slopes of extinct volcanoes, give the landscape its charm; delicately fruity white wines, whose unusual geological growing conditions explain their faintly mineral piquancy, dominate the scene.
Besides wine (the main varieties are Welschriesling, Weißburgunder, Chardonnay, Zweigelt and Müller Thurgau, although the typical regional speciality is the Klöcher Traminer), other typical specialities include: Styrian pumpkin seed oil, excellent ham, bacon, cheese, and preserves made from the region’s fruit. And of course not forgetting the world-famous Zotter chocolate.
Did you know that you’re actually in Austria’s largest delicatessen shop?
That wasn’t always the case. Of course, each region had (and has) its own local dishes, and the same was true here. But the Thermen- & Vulkanland went one step further and began to create premium modern products out of the resources available. Their success has been such that they have become the hallmarks of the region and contribute considerably to the profile and identity of the entire Thermen- & Vulkanland. Delicatessen such as smoked ham or truffle tenderloins, high-quality pumpkin seed oil and other pressed oils, vinegars, wonderfully sophisticated schnapps made from tomatoes or apples, Hirschbirne pears and heart cherries, plus a number other delights, make your heart skip a beat in joy. Pure, wholesome, and waiting to be discovered!
In addition to the region’s flagship products (medicinal and mineral water, apples, milk, honey, bread, Styrian horseradish, elderberries & chokeberries, Styrian scarlet runner beans, oil pumpkin), wild garlic also makes the Thermen- & Vulkanland what it is. Springing up in the wetland forests near the River Mur in Bad Radkersburg, it is the first culinary “greeting” of the year and causes hearts (and stomachs) to flutter.
While wild garlic is emerging from the undergrowth of Bad Radkersburg from March to May, sending connoisseurs into raptures, the next season is already underway: asparagus! Styrian asparagus paired with wonderful Styrian white wine is a delight for any foodie, and marks the next highlight in the culinary calendar.
Speaking of the culinary calendar: fresh bounty follows from spring until autumn in the Thermen- & Vulkanland:
Have you ever tried it? Hearty Easter smoked meat with horseradish and Easter bread? Gardens and markets everywhere are turning green: wild garlic, “Grazer Krauthäuptel” lettuce, dandelion salad, stinging nettle and much more nourish and re-energise tired bodies.
Maibock is calling! Tender young game served with true morels. In May, asparagus is a must, accompanied by this year’s potatoes, and of course a Styrian white wine.
Sweet times ahead. June sees the first fruits ripe for the picking: strawberries, cherries, currants, elderberries and fruits of the forest. We enjoy them fresh, or as jams, in strudels, or maybe even as juice.
Pumpkins blossom in the summer heat, as people turn to ice cream. In the evening, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce heads taste delicious with crispy fried chicken, or “Backhendl”.
Summer storms push mushrooms and fungus out of the damp, fragrant forest floors and encourage blueberries to ripen. Arctic char also grows to an appetising size.
Autumn is “Sturm” season: this fermented grape drink is often paired with “Sterz” (a rural dish made with beans and grains) and mushrooms, pumpkin dishes and scarlet runner bean salad. You can also expect plenty of fresh apple and pear juice as well as must.
Hear the call of the forest, which brings game specialities, pâtés and pies, and venison ham to our plates. We also tuck into potatoes, root vegetables, cabbage and turnips, followed by nutty desserts. And to see us into the winter season: Styrian “Junker” wine!