Zillertaler Krapfen

 

Sennerei Zillertal Sennereiküche.  A-6290 Mayrhofen · Hollenzen 116

Kitchen Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 18:00, Sunday and Holidays 9:00 – 17:00

http://www.sennerei-zillertal.at/

A traditional regional snack at festivals and cultural celebrations, Zillertaler Krapfen are delicious little stuffed pastries featuring the local Tyrolean Graukäse.

Freshly fried, the piping hot Zillertaler Krapfen gleam in the afternoon sun.  These tantalizingly golden brown temptations, with their adorable half-moon forms, are like small deep-fried tacos.  The tiny air pockets on the shells make the Krapfen light and provide airy relief.  The shell itself is quite thin, brittle and delicate (particularly on the outmost rim), which makes them really enjoyable.  Its crunchy consistency creates amazing contrast with the creamy stuffing.  Moreover, the shell is the ideal vessel for holding the hot contents.

The filling, which chiefly consists of sliced boiled potatoes, butter, Tyrolean Graukäse grey cheese and chopped chives, combines to form an enchantingly creamy concoction.  The Graukäse in particular really gives the mash a feel good, mesmerizing flavor.  It is not only responsible for the amazing taste, but also the thick, gooey consistency and moistness in the filling.  The potatoes provide substance and body, but also firm texture and some bite.  Additionally, it subdues the grey cheese’s characteristically aggressive flavor a tad.  The chives impart a delicate oniony earthiness.

These little bad boys are gratifying and substantial – they will definitely fill you up.  Due to its deep-fried preparation, the Krapfen goes down perfectly well with a glass of cold, fresh, premium milk or buttermilk.

Saturday may very well be the best day of the week to visit the Sennerei in Mayrhofen – the Zillertaler Krapfen, served exclusively on this day, are absolutely flawless.  Priced at a mere 5.50 euros for five pieces, these treats are also a good deal.  Zillertaler Krapfen are the hallmark of the Zillertal Valley, and the dairy farm in Mayrhofen makes arguably some of the best you will ever find!  Just like grandma would make them!

 

Overall: 10/10

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Zillertaler Graukäse: sauer mit Essig, Öl und Zwiebelringen – Traditional Graukäse Gray Cheese

 

Sennerei Zillertal Sennereiküche.  A-6290 Mayrhofen · Hollenzen 116

Kitchen Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 18:00, Sunday and Holidays 9:00 – 17:00

http://www.sennerei-zillertal.at/

Late spring/early summer is an interesting time to visit Tyrol.  It’s the period when herds of cows can be seen from miles away, grazing the open pastures and fields.  These majestic creatures are a constant reminder of the longtime farmer tradition in the region.  What happens to the milk produced from these animals?  Well, most likely it is sent to the nearby dairy farm, the Sennerei Zillertal.  Nestled deep in the Zillertal Ziller Valley in Mayrhofen, the dairy offers tours to the public that gives a fascinating look into the process of modern milk, cheese and butter production.  The first station in the tour takes a closer look at the one-of-a-kind Graukäse grey cheese. Not only can you see and smell how this local specialty is produced and stored to maturity, you can also enjoy it afterwards at the adjacent Dairy Kitchen!

Tyrolean Graukäse (literally ‘grey cheese’) is a fine cheese with a powerful aroma.  It possesses a refined and sophisticated texture as well as taste.  Tyrolean grey cheese has two contrasting parts – a white curd center and an outer rind.  The cracked rind is where the characteristic grey mold develops, while the white cheese center is rather crumbly.

 

As one can imagine, the cheese rind emits a much more potent aroma.  It has a uniquely pungent, full body flavor.  The grey mold spotting the surface adds something special.  The rind is further divided in terms of texture – some outer areas are hard (as a rind normally is), while the segment closer to the white center is creamy, gooey and spreadable.  The latter gets a good mix of both worlds.

Traditionally, Tyrolean Graukäse is enjoyed with raw onions.  Here at the dairy kitchen, three thick slices of the cheese come served with a bit of vinegar splashed over the top, a few drops of oil and sliced red onions.  There is also a slab of fresh dairy butter paired with a serving of freshly baked Zillertaler farmhouse rye bread.  The added vinegar reinforces the characteristic sharpness of the cheese while also moistening the tough, dry outer rind.  The oil contributes some fat to the extremely low-fat cheese.  Red onions not only offer fabulous color, but also zest and sweetness.  Its mildness goes along well with the dairy product.

For a filling starter or main meal, Graukäse is best on an open sandwich – a slice of bread with a swipe of butter spread over the top, a heaping amount of cheese and topped off with sliced onions.  The bread mellows out the strong taste a bit while the butter gives wonderful creaminess.  There is nothing like fresh butter and cheese!

Visiting a dairy farm is truly a unique experience.   The Sennerei Zillertal provides the complete sensory encounter as each and every one of your senses are stimulated – after seeing, hearing and smelling the dairy items go through a complex production process, you are invited to taste and feel the end-result directly afterwards.  A visit to the Sennerei Zillertal is a must for a comprehensive culinary journey into the world of local cheese making.  And Tyrolean Graukäse is the quintessential when it comes to local dairy products!

 

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Tourism School Showcase – 06 June 2013

Garlic Cream Soup with Whole Rye Bread Cubes · Pork Roast with Sliced Bread Dumplings and Warm Kraut Salad / Vegetable Pizza with Salad · Choux pastry Swan

Knoblauchcremesuppe mit Schwarzbrotwürfel · Schweinebraten mit Serviettenknödel und warmen Speckkrautsalat/Gemüsepizza mit Salat · Brandteigschwan

 

Rich garlic cream soup is a superior first course starter.  The faint touch of garlic in the liquids is far from overpowering.  The soup maintains a balanced flavor and velvety consistency throughout.   Rye bread croutons are crunchy and delicious – an absolute star in the soup.  The bread’s outer edges are crispy while the center quietly absorbs the soup’s aroma.  Each bite is compact and crunchy.  The ideal accompaniment, these croutons are fabulous.  Finally, the chopped chives add extra sophistication, a hint of green and some earthy undertones to the soup.  Garlic cream soup with rye bread croutons – an utter delight!

 

The vegetarian option for the day has Italian influences – a rectangular slice of vegetable pizza served with a small side salad.  The basic foundation for a pizza is there – a relatively thick crust with tomato sauce and cheese.  Then comes the toppings.  An assortment of vegetables sits atop the crust – red onions, zucchini, tomato slices – with a hint of oregano scattered over the surface.  Corn kernels on the pizza really shine here since they offer the most enjoyable spurts of sweetness.

Lettuce forms the base for the side salad, holding corn kernels in a makeshift cone.  A couple tomato slices decorate the bottom while shredded carrots sit to one side.  The side salad explodes with sweetness from both the yellow and orange veggies.  Creamy yogurt salad dressing binds everything together.

 

After a rugged and substantial main course, dessert is a touch of eloquence and delicateness.  A Swan shaped choux pastry, elaborately formed and stuffed with cream in the center, comes served on a clean white plate; fleshy rhubarb stalks are stewed in a light strawberry sauce encompassing the gorgeous centerpiece.  Powdered sugar coats the surface, adding a dash of extra sweetness.  Slightly tart and partially sweet, the soft, yielding rhubarb pieces add an added dimension to contrast the gentle pastry.  Excellently conceived, the Brandteigschwan is a lovely dessert that surely brings a smile to your face!

 

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Quesadilla de Camarones con Aquacate – Shrimp Quesadillas

 

Mexico Arriba.  A-6020 Innsbruck · Innrain 2

Hours: 12:00 – 14:00, 18:00 – 22:00

http://www.cammerlander.at/mexico-arriba/

For the majority of Americans living in Europe, there are a number of things that we sorely miss from our home country.  Whether it’s the large ethnic diversity, the general friendliness of strangers or the abundant number of festivities (many revolving around food!), it becomes easy for Americans to get homesick.  But there’s one thing that trumps all others – Mexican cuisine!   It seems that this particular fare has failed to catch on with European taste buds.  Mexico Arriba in Innsbruck tries to bring a taste of Mexico to Tyrol.

Though there are many interesting items on the menu here, like fajitas, enchiladas and ceviche, it is hard to wrong with the quesadilla (queso meaning cheese in Spanish).  Largely popular in the Americas, this traditional Mexican dish consisting of a flour tortilla folded around a filling is simple and satisfying.  A plethora of variations exist due to the numerous filling options.  Cheese is the norm inside the tortilla, but normally there are extra ingredients added inside.  Here, there are four available fillings in addition to the cheese – quesadilla de pollo con verduras (with chicken and vegetables), quesadilla de res con verduras (beef and vegetables), quesadilla de camarones con aguacate (shrimp and avocado) or quesadilla de verduras asadas (grilled veggies).  Each comes served with a mash of black beans and cream.

 

The quesadilla de camarones con aguacate is the priciest among the quesadillas.  This makes sense since shrimp is more of a luxury compared to meat.  Starting with the basis for the quesadilla, the tortilla is excellent.  Toasted to a perfect consistency – a delightfully golden brown crispness – the flatbread tortilla is clearly fresh, holds the ingredients together and simply tastes marvelous by itself.  Inside, there is plenty of gooey, warm cheese sticking to the interior.  Another highlight, besides the tortilla and cheese, are the grilled vegetables.  Colorful and sweet, the grilled eggplant, zucchini, onions and bell peppers add pop and texture to the dish.  There are a good number of tiny shrimps inside as well, but they do not really stand out.

Though the quesadilla is good, the dish lacks a proper side item to make it a complete meal.  Though the cheese stuffed tortilla pieces comes served with a salad, the portion size is too tiny to be considered a real side dish.  Too bad because the salad is great!  The vibrant green shredded romaine lettuce leaves get an excellent coating of creamy dressing and comes with a few diced tomatoes tossed in.  A couple sliced jalapeños really add a spicy Mexican flair that kicks up the dish.  Unfortunately, though, two bites and everything is gone.  The black bean and cream mash squeezed on top of the quesadillas, though optically unappealing, is easily the best part of the dish.  The flavor is concentrated and has a small peppery jolt that really makes the mash a wonderful addition.  It sort of acts like a dip.  But once again, there is only a minute amount given.  Finally, though it is stated on the menu, the quesadilla served today lacked any avocados!

At 11.20 euros, the price-value relationship is a far cry from being favorable.  Naturally, the tiny shrimps in the quesadilla and the freshly prepared tortilla hike up the price.  But the scant number of crustaceans simply doesn’t justify the exorbitant cost.  Ultimately, though the quesadilla is a delicious, comforting Mexican dish that is both flavorful and tasty, it is hard to enjoy with the sky-high price tag sitting there in the back of your mind.  Best shared amongst a group of friends, this finger food dish is better served as a starter than a true main course.

 

Overall: 7.5/10

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Tourism School Showcase – 29 May 2013

Bacon Dumpling Soup · Fettuccine in a Tomato-Tuna Sauce with Mixed Salad · Semolina Bake with Strawberry Sauce

Speckknödelsuppe · Fettucini in Tomaten-Thunfischsauce mit gemischtem Salat · Grießauflauf mit Erdbeersauce 

 

First course of the day is a Speckknödelsuppe bacon dumpling soup.  The Speckknödel bacon dumpling, typical of this region, is absolutely something to rave about.  The bacon pieces spread about in the large, round bread ball bring so much to the table and imparts fantastic flavor.  Additionally, the bread component is finely packed together and the dumpling ideally formed that it is just simply a pleasure to eat.  A few chopped onions and herbs are also added into the dumpling, contributing fineness and aroma.  The piping hot soup is soothing and rich.  Under the extreme heat of the soup, the bread ball slowly breaks down and passes on some of its essence to the soup.

 

Main course features fettuccine pasta with a tomato tuna sauce on top.  Although the sauce is scant, the abundance of parmesan spread over the pasta makes up for it.  The tuna in the sauce gives some substance to the meal.  There is a black olive on top as well as chopped chives garnishing the dish, which offer a different flavor.  The thin fettuccine strands are cooked al dente and steaming hot, which is excellent because it heats up the cheese.  On the side is a standard salad consisting of a leaf lettuce, quartered cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots and corn kernels.  Yogurt dressing at the bottom engulfs the salad.

 

Dessert is deceptively delicious.  At first, it looks like the warm baked treat sitting in a pool of strawberry sauce is dense and heavy.  But in fact the semolina bake is soft and creamy.  The center is quite delicate and absolutely delightful.  The surrounding red sauce is restrained – it is not aggressively sweet or overpowering.  Instead, the strawberry sauce livens up the treat.  A touch of powdered sugar on top adds an excellent amount of sweetness.  All the elements come together to form a fantastic dessert.  The basil leaf is a cool finishing touch.

 

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Fitneßsalat Salatplatte mit Hühnerfiletstreifen – Fitness Salad Plate with Chicken Strips

 

Klostergasthof.  A-6134 Fiecht · Fiecht 5

Austrian cuisine has a notorious reputation for being on the heavy side – Schnitzel, Spätzle, Kaiserschmarren, Tafelspitz, Schweinebraten roasted pork, etc…  So it is easy for uninformed people to have this image branded in their mind and conclude that Austrian cuisine is full of fatty and filling dishes.  On the contrary!  In fact, there are a burgeoning number of health conscious Austrians that eat smart and healthy.  Supermarkets promote a large array of organic fruits and vegetables that make eating right accessible.  Restaurants also follow suit – salads are always included on the menu.  One notable dish often found on Austrian menus is the so-called ‘Fitness Salad,’ a salad plate featuring a variety of greens topped with grilled chicken strips.

The Fitness Salad at the Klostergasthof is framed by a dark red tinted plate that fabulously highlights the salad, like a work of art.  This dish starts off with a solid foundation of lettuce piled high – a variety of greens including arugula, iceberg, radicchio and leafy red oak leaf lettuce.  A couple of tomato wedges are hidden among the leaves while a creamy yogurt dressing paints the leaves.  Unfortunately, the leafy greens still have lots of moisture so the bottom of the plate becomes flooded with a mix of water and yogurt sauce.

On top of the salad mound are bountiful strips of well-seasoned, juicy chicken filets.  These chicken strips are incredibly yummy.  Not only do they burst with taste, they also erupt with moistness.  They make the salad ten times better.

But then the salad becomes even more interesting.  Every star needs its supporting actors and there are six here.  Bordering the center are different components that perfectly accompany any salad.  These include traditional potato salad, thinly sliced pickled cucumbers, sliced boiled carrots, pickled green beans, sauerkraut green cabbage with cumin and grated parsnips.

 

Pumpkin seeds scatter the modern plate rim as garnish.  These crushed kernels add something special in terms of texture and taste.  It’s just an incredibly addition to the salad.

8.50 euros is reasonable for such a healthy, low fat and nutritious salad.  The plethora of options on the plate not only makes the Fitness Salad exciting, but also a flavor party.  Moreover, presentation is also on the mark – the amazing and appealing colors on the plate make you just want to dive right in.

 

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Tourism School Showcase – 07 May 2013

Celery Cream Soup · Roasted Chicken with Long Grain Rice / Vegetable Quiche with Sour Cream · Cheese and Fruit Buffet

Selleriecremesuppe · Brathuhn mit Langkornreis / Gemüsequiche mit Sauerrahm · Käse- und Früchtebuffet

 

Beautifully aromatic celery cream soup commences the three course meal.  The soup comes served with a couple of bread cubes that float to the surface – white bread along with delicious pumpkin seed bread cubes.  The soup itself is rather thick and the celery aroma is apparent with each and every spoonful.  While enjoying the warm soup the bread pieces slowly soak up the liquids, eventually expanding and softening up like a sponge.   Pumpkin seeds in the bread add a remarkable dimension to the crafty celery soup.

 

The main course is either a roasted chicken dish with rice or a vegetable quiche.  The vegetarian option is quite appealing and comes loaded with veggies – shredded carrots, diced zucchini, thinly sliced white and green onions, chopped asparagus and lots of yellow corn on the surface.  A small amount of cheese on the surface finishes the baked dish.    This savory pie has an incredible browned crust that pleasantly crumbles apart.

While the egg and milk mixture is delicate and fluffy, it is the mixture of vegetables that really impress.  The corn kernels really stand out and burst with natural sweetness with each bite.  The in-season asparagus, cut into small bite-sized pieces, is soft.  Served with a creamy sour cream dressing, the vegetable quiche is a flavorful delight.

 

For dessert, there is another fruit and cheese buffet.  Two types of bread – white and rye with pumpkin seeds – sit in a basket next to an assortment of lip-smacking mustards that are ideal as dips: curry mustard, fig mustard and honey mustard.  Afterwards, there are a variety of cheeses including Tilsiter, Emmentaler, Bergkäse mountain cheese, Brie, Ziegenkäse goat’s milk cheese and the infamous Graukäse grey cheese that await down the buffet line.  Dried fruits and nuts such as apricots, raisins, pumpkin seeds and walnuts and fresh fruits like sliced kiwis, apples, honeydew melons, pineapples, grapes and strawberries end the fruit and cheese buffet for the day.  Again, the highlight here is the gourmet mustard sauces that simply make the fruits taste so much better!

 

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Gauder Wurst

 

Gauder Fest · Zell am Ziller

2 May – 5 May 2013

http://www.gauderfest.at/

Time for Lederhosen and Dirndls!  Every year, on the first weekend of May, a special event takes place in the heart of the Zillertal Valley – the traditional Gauder Fest in Zell am Ziller.  For four eventful and lively days, local Tyroleans and foreign visitors alike come to this one-of-a-kind extravaganza to revel in the fun.  The highlight of Austria’s largest spring festival is the parade showcasing colorful customary costumes, band music played by local groups, and historical horse-drawn carriages.  This Trachtenumzug parade, which caps the event on Sunday, also happens to be the largest of its kind in Austria.  The younger generation, though, might consider the festival beer, Gauder Bock, to be the highlight.

The specially brewed Gauder beer, at 7.8 % alcohol by volume, is deceptively strong.  Of course, a strong brew demands some strong food to counteract its toxic effects.  This need is met with the festival’s other specialty – Gauderwurst sausage.

 

The roughly foot long grilled sausage of pork and beef has a fine taste to it.  Spices and seasonings give the Gauderwurst a uniquely bold, meaty and robust flavor.  Each bite is juicy and succulent and simply full of flavor.  The thin casing has that satisfying snap.  The grilling process gives the sausage a nice smoky aroma that permeates the meat delicacy.  It also provides some excellent charring on the surface.

Food stands set up all around the fest grounds serve up this traditional sausage.  The Gauderwurst comes with either a piece of bread, French fries or even potato salad.  The bread roll is ideal since its light flavor offsets the salty nature of the sausages.

 

Though visitors at this annual festival have other food options, including Schnitzel burgers, grilled chicken, steak sandwiches or the ever popular Zillertaler Krapfen, the Gauderwurst is certainly a special piece of meat that deserves some particular attention.  Naturally, the two specialties of the Gauder Fest – Gauder Bier and Gauderwurst – pair perfectly well together.

 

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Tourism School Showcase – 30 April 2013

Pasta Salad with Homemade White Bread · Grilled Chicken Schnitzel in a Curry Fruit Sauce served with Basmati Rice / Vegetable Gnocchi with Green Salad · Cheese and Fruit Buffet

Nudelsalat mit hausgemachtem Weißbrot · Gegrilltes Hühnerschnitzel in Curryfrüchtesauce mit Basmatireis / Gemüsegnocchi mit grünem Salat · Käse- und Früchtebuffet

 

Cold pasta salad, served in a clear cup, comes on a plate with a slice of homemade white bread.  Here, seashell pasta gets a nice coating in a light and creamy sauce.  Hidden in the curves are also finely diced vegetables, including zucchini and peppers.  The bite-sized noodle pieces go down easy.  A slice of freshly baked white bread, with its many air gaps, is the highlight.  There is nothing better than a piece of bread that has just come out of the oven.  Its center is soft and fluffy and it has a fine aroma.  The pasta combined with the bread is a solid starter overall.

The main meat course is a grilled chicken schnitzel, served in a curry fruit sauce, with basmati rice.

A vegetarian option is also available – vegetable gnocchi with a side salad.  Each gnocchi piece is rather squishy and simple to bite into.  The adorable oval dumplings get a buttery polish that makes them slick and rich.  The vegetables, though, make the dish special.  Sliced golden zucchini along with chopped green zucchini provide sweetness and additional taste.  A generous mound of grated Parmesan tops the delicate dumplings and veggies, giving the dish an even more flavorful bite.

The meal is completed by a side salad full of roughly chopped lettuce along with julienne yellow and orange carrots, all tossed in a balsamic sauce.  These crunchy components contribute a contrasting consistency to the gnocchi.

 

Concluding the three course feast is a cheese and fruit buffet – a truly unique experience.  Tables are setup in the main hall with a fruit, cheese and garnish station.  On the fruit table are silver platters brimming with freshly sliced pineapples, honeydew melon, apples, kiwis and mangos.  There are also whole fruits like green grapes and strawberries.  Moving on, there is a manned station laden with a variety of cheeses to choose from.  The majority of the milk-based products are white cheeses.  Finally, there is also a garnish station with assorted dried fruits like plums and raisins.  On top of that, there are mustard delicacy sauces such as honey mustard.  These extras add a special twist to the crisp, juicy and naturally sweet fruits.  The fruit and cheese buffet is certainly a nutritious finish to the day’s meal.

 

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Pan Fried Bread Dumplings with Green Salad – Geröstete Knödel mit grünem Salat

 

Restaurant Silberberg.  A-6130 Schwaz · Alte Landstraße 1

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 24:00

http://www.silberberg-tennishalle.com/site/

Knödel dumplings are an essential part of Central European cuisine.  Primarily prepared using bread but sometimes made of potatoes, these large, round boiled balls are commonly served as side items for meat dishes such as Schweinebraten roasted pork or stews – dishes accompanied by a thick and heavy sauce.   But Knödel can also be the main star of a dish, as done here.  In the Geröstete Knödel dish, Knödel bread dumplings are sliced and pan-fried and served with scrambled eggs.

This Knödel dish is simple and straightforward.  Like Tiroler Gröstl, it is a smart way of utilizing leftovers from previous meals.  Knödel is generally made using old, stale bread, but this method of preparation makes use of already cooked dumplings and extends the life further.   Simply put, this dish is just like eating bread with eggs for breakfast.  Seasoned well, the small bread ‘cakes’ are delicious.  The soft and delicate nature of the sliced bread pieces really pair well with the creamy and buttery scrambled eggs.  Meanwhile, the Knödel’s crisp, browned edges are a real delight since they have a nice crisp crust to counter the spongy interior.  Scrambled eggs are cooked finely and slightly salted.  Chopped chives not only offer a fine hint of oniony flavor and appealing green color, but also provide the dish with some earthy freshness.

 

The Geröstete Knödel comes with a side green salad that contains roughly cut iceberg lettuce and red and green lettuce leaves.  There are also a couple of tomato wedges.  The entire salad gets a nice toss in a vinegary dressing that provides yet another contrast.

At only 8 euros, the Geröstete Knödel with green salad is an absolute bargain.

 

Overall: 8/10

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