Sunday, January 22, 2012

Grazing in Graz

One thing that is often overlooked in Styria is Graz—the culinary capital of Austria. Our hotel was close to Lendplatz where the local farmer’s market is held every day apart from Sundays. The gorgeous smell as you approach the farmer’s market is amazing, and the produce is very fresh. Homemade bread and fresh apricots are two things that stood out—a great way to start a morning. There is also a market held in Kaiser Josef Platz.

Before sampling the food, we took several sightseeing tours around Graz to check out the Schlossberg (castle mountain), Rathaus (town hall), and the Landeszeughaus, which is the biggest armory in the world. In addition, there are dozens of museums ranging from botanical gardens to the modern art museum (Kunsthaus Graz).

The food and beer in Graz was something special, though. Gösser Bräu, a restaurant in the old town, has its own brewery, which produces a very nice lager. The goulash is exceptional and reminded us of the Hungarian goulashes we’ve tried over the years. We also went to Cafe Sacher, a Venetian-style coffeehouse restaurant. While the prices were a little high, the quality of the food was even higher, and we had an amazing time surrounded by opulence.

Near the Stadtpark is a great little restaurant called Starcke Haus. The best time to go is for lunch, as you will be able to see all of Graz from this hillside location. We thoroughly enjoyed relaxing in the sun, and the downhill walk to our hotel was nice and easy.

Graz has some incredible food, and the city has styles that suit both those wanting authentic Austrian cuisine and those wanting something more contemporary. The city is known as the culinary capital of Austria, which is a well-deserved title. Admittedly it helps that the city has easy access to a wide variety of fresh high-quality produce, including Almenland beef, Hochschwab game, and Pöllauer Hirschbirne, which is a type of pear.
In total, it has easy access to 15 different foods that have protected status including pork, pumpkinseed oil, and cheeses as well. The means the chefs of Graz have a great range of ingredients to produce a great range of food. Wherever we were in Graz, the local restaurants never failed to impress us, and we always arrived at our hotel feeling full and satisfied.