Styria on everyone's lips
The delicatessen of Austria. The orchard of Austria. Whatever Styria is called, one thing is certain: it is the most fertile state in Austria, which produces culinary delights of great quality and variety, from apples to Swiss stone pine.
Styrians are very aware of this treasure centred around the culinary trilogy of wine, pumpkins (seed oil) and apples, which contributes significantly to the Styrian lifestyle.
Southern taste variations centred around pumpkins, wine and apples
The landscape alone stimulates your appetite. Seas of vineyard hills lined with poplars, klopotecs (giant wooden wheels) and wineries in contemporary architecture, expansive fields with pumpkin-yellow blots and colourful orchards let the romance truly melt on your tongue. Wine, pumpkins and apples play the role of the trailblazers of Styria, taking the culinary lead, and are celebrated at events from the blooming period to the harvest. In addition, fine ham, like Vulcano ham, but also a large wealth of cheese from small cheese dairies, fine vinegars, renowned schnapps and unusual chocolate varieties complete the treats for your palate.
Another word about wine: small but wonderful, Styria is one of the four wine-growing regions in Austria. Even if Styria's share of the total wine production area in Austria is only 10%, the light, dry Styrian white wines have made an incomparably high-quality name for themselves internationally than their share would suggest. In no other wine-growing region of Europe are so many types of wine cultivated. Two special varieties are to be highlighted here: the slightly grassy to pronounced spicy Sauvignon Blanc has a become the figurehead of southern Styria, while the light-to-ruby red Schilcher is protected by wine law and can only be obtained from the Wildbacher vine. The main cultivation area for the Schilcher is western Styria.
The north makes you hungry for venison, char and Steirerkas cheese
In the north, work up your appetite in the forests, mountains, alpine pastures and the aromatic fresh air. The north is marked by skillet dishes, the typical Steirerkas' cheese and a centuries-old tradition of beer brewing in the kitchen. Lots of "animal" taste experiences centred around lamb, Styriabeef (premium beef brand of Styrian organic farmers with the strictest controls), Almo, game and freshly-caught char can be found on the menus. Oven-warm coarse rye bread, homemade butter, fresh juices and fine brandies form the supporting programme and determine the colourful picture at farmers' markets and in farm shops.
And in between the culinary capital of Graz
The state capital of Graz has borne this title since 2008 as one of Austria's enjoyment regions. And it is well-deserved. With 800(!) city-builders, Graz not only has the largest number of Austrian municipalities, but also the highest density of market days throughout Europe at the 13 farmers' markets.
Culinary tours, events such as the "long table" in the heart of the city, cooking classes, cultural programmes, including enjoyment such as the styriarte menus, an exciting locale scene with quite a lot of gastronomic life, because Graz likes to sit & eat outside.
The Styrian menu
Appetizer front runners: Pumpkin cream or Schilcher cream soup, mushroom soup with pork 'Sterz', field salad with potatoes, smoked ham.
The main course winners: the national dish of the Styrians, Backhendl (baked chicken), crispy fried trout and char, Styrian Wurzelfleisch [pork pot roast], Almo steaks with fresh mushrooms or a succulent pumpkin strudel.
Food finale: string donuts with cream, funnel cake, lush stuffed Potizen [sweet bread], fluffy donuts, juicy fruit strudel or dumplings, primarily from the apple of course.
A special treat is the Styrian 'Brettljause': It consists of a cold cuts (e.g. smoked meats, roast pork, ham, sausage, bacon, dry sausage, etc.) and spreads (such as bacon jam = lard, liver sausage, drippings, pumpkin seed spread, etc.) with horseradish and coarse rye bread served on a wooden board "Holzbrettl". Add to this a runner bean salad with pumpkin seed oil and radish or sheep's cheese with pumpkin seed oil. Simply divine.
Where can all of this be enjoyed? In restaurants with a total of 123 stars (as of 2017), about 800 wine taverns (of them over 70 have awards) and 165 'Kulimarium Steiermark' enterprises, between vineyards and mountain peaks and the culinary capital of Graz.
Two special features
- Spring with the rich picnic offering: Styria offers a good 100 possibilities to rummage through the first spring greenery of the different landscapes and to taste regional delicacies: art & picnics, castle & picnic, gorge, waterfall & picnic, animals & picnic, exercise & picnic, children & picnic,... www.steiermark.com/picknick
- What do apple balsamic vinegar, rowan berry schnapps, Hirschbirne pear jelly and pumpkin seed oil have in common? Their basic products are grown in Styria and then are harvested, processed and refined when the green heart dazzles in autumnal splendour. And the autumn guest in Styria is active in the process, meeting the farmers and finding out where the food comes and how it is made. Whether during apple harvesting, baking bread, stirring cream, burning mountain pine, brewing beer, calling deer, during herbal and cosmetics seminars or cooking classes. "From the harvest to the enjoyment" is what these deeply enjoyable autumn activities are called between the yellow pumpkin south and the rowan berry orange north. www.steiermark.com/herbst
... a wine-growing area of 4,550 hectares
... the largest apple-growing area in Austria at 5,200 hectares
...around 17,000 ha of pumpkin growing area.
… grapes grow for approximately 220,000 hectolitres of wine (75% white)
...about 180,000 tonnes of apples grow per year (85% of Austria)
... just under 3 million litres of original Styrian pumpkin seed oil is made