Easter Markets in Vienna

It’s Easter season in Vienna!

What better way to enjoy Spring than to explore Vienna’s charming Easter markets? Every year, colourful markets pop up across the city in celebration of Easter.

Craftspeople and artisans offer beautifully decorated eggs, pottery and other regional arts and crafts. You can also indulge your taste buds with regional fare and culinary treats.


Old Vienna Easter Market at the Freyung

Set in the heart of Vienna’s first district, the traditional Easter market at Freyung Square features the biggest mountain of Easter eggs in Europe, with around 40,000 painted eggs.

  • Dates: 20 March – 6 April 2015
  • Times: Daily from 10.00 am to 7.30 pm
  • Address: 1010 Freyung, between Schottengasse and Heidenshuß
  • U-bahn: U2 Schottentor or U3 Herrengasse

For more information, visit: http://www.altwiener-markt.at (English, German)


Easter Market at the Am Hof

Only a few minutes walk from the Freyung, the Am Hof is one of the oldest squares in Vienna. Here you can find a blend of contemporary artwork and handcrafted products including Easter eggs, candles, pottery, knitwear, jewelry and wood carvings.

  • Dates: 20 March – 6 April 2015
  • Times:  Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 8 pm; Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Easter Monday from 10 am to 8 pm.
  • Address: 1010 Am Hof, between Graben and Freyung
  • U-bahn: U2 Schottentor or U3 Herrengasse

For more information, visit: www.kunsthandwerksmarkt.at (German)


Schönbrunn Palace Easter Market

This traditional Easter market is set in the historic courtyard of Schönbrunn Palace. Here you can find handicrafts and original gifts such as traditional Easter decorations and pottery, tin toys, floral arrangements, beautifully decorated gingerbread cookies and regional delicacies.

  • Dates: 21 March – 6 April 2015
  • Times: Daily from 10 am to 6:30 pm
  • Address: Schloß Schönbrunn, 1130 Wien, Austria
  • U-bahn: U4 Schönbrunn

For more information, visit: www.ostermarkt.co.at (English, German)


Easter Market at Neugebäude Castle

Neugebäude Castle is located in the 11th district. Here you’ll find an arts and craft market along with an Easter programme including traditional music, clowns, face painting and other events. Palm Sunday will be observed by Rektor Msr. Mag. Wagner at 1 pm.

  • Dates: 26 – 29 March 2015
  • Address: 1110 Wien, Otmar-Brix-Gasse 1
  • U-bahn: U3 Simmering, then switch to Bus 73A towards Pantucekgasse, get off at Hörtengasse stop

For more information, visit: www.schlossneugebaeude.at (German)


Easter Market at the Campus Altes AKH

More than 25 exhibitors will be featured at the Old General Hospital campus Easter Market. There is also a playground for children to explore.

  • Date: 20 March – 6 April 2015
  • Times: Daily 11 am to 8 pm
  • Address: Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Wien
  • U-bahn: U2 Schottentor, switch to streetcar 43 or 44, get off at Lange Gasse stop

For more information, visit: Sorry, no website available!


Floridsdorf Easter Market 

21 exhibitors gather at the Floridsdorf Easter Market. There is a carousel ride for children to enjoy as well as food stands featuring traditional Austrian specialties.

  • Date: 27 February – 5 April 2015
  • Times: Daily 9 am to 9 pm
  • Address: Franz-Jonas-Platz, 1210 Wien
  • U-bahn: U6 Floridsdorf

For more information, visit: Sorry, no website available!


Easter Festival in the Prater

On Easter Sunday, don’t forget to join the party at the Prater. Fun for young and old, here you’ll find live music, an Easter parade and a diverse children’s programme which includes live theater and a magic show.

  • Date: 5 April 2015
  • Times: Easter Sunday from 1 pm to 8 pm
  • Address: Prater Riesenradplatz, 1020 Vienna
  • U-bahn: U1 Praterstern Bf

For more information, visit: www.praterservice.at (English, German)


Want to see more photos from Vienna’s Easter Markets?

Check out our Flick album or come join us on Facebook!

Food & Travel Trends – Creepy Crawly Cuisine

bug choco

Sylvain Musquar, a French chocolate maker, prepares chocolate squares made from nuts and sugar, topped with a sugar coated cricket or a maggot “to make it a little sexier”.

I was reading an article the other day about this year’s food trends. The article talked about the usual ‘ethnic’ foods like kimchi and coconut water. Then came the stomach churning delicacies like anchovy ice cream but what really caught my eye was how edible insects were making waves in upscale restaurants across Europe.

Touted as the new ‘superfood’ due to their high protein content and sustainability, bugs are hardly new to the food and travel scene. In fact, insects have long been a part of the traditional diet in places like Asia, Latin America, Africa and Oceania.

I’m not gonna lie, the idea of eating bugs grosses me out. There are only a few things that will make me eat insects: 1) accidentally trapping midges and mozzies with my mouth while riding on the back of a motorcycle, 2) the need to be polite in foreign countries, or 3) a double dare!

BeondegiMy first bug eating experience was in South Korea. It was 1999 and I was living in a rural village called Naju while setting up an English-language program for LG Chemical. ‘Beondegi’ – or boiled silkworm pupae – was super popular with kids and adults alike. A common street food, you could usually find an ajuma selling beondegi at the markets, festivals or stumbling home from the bars in the city during the wee hours of the morning.

Although not my street-meat of choice, beondegi wasn’t half bad once you got used to the idea of eating caterpillar larvae. To give you an idea of what it tastes like, imagine something along the lines of puffed wheat with nutty overtones that crunch between your teeth followed by a grotesque squirt of caterpillar innards across your tongue. I managed to choke down a few but I gave the rest to my colleague’s young son who was more than happy to finish them off.

When I left Korea to travel around South East Asia in 2002, eating bugs was a right of passage among the backpacker set. The first stop in Bangkok usually began with a trip to Khao San Road where you could get your fill of entomophagic delicacies stewing in crust-lined vats of sizzling hot oil. Not much had changed on my last trip to Thailand where we came across dozens of street vendors selling silk worms, grasshoppers, water beetles, crickets  or the grand daddy of them all… scorpions! Although technically an animal, I’ll go ahead and lump scorpions and other arachnids in with the creepy crawly bug world. The crunch of deep fried scorpion exoskeleton between my teeth still makes my stomach churl but, I guess, if I had to do it again I probably would.

These days, you don’t need to travel far and wide to find insects on the menu. In fact, insects have been creeping into the menus of high-profile restaurants in the United States, England and Europe for years now. Insects are also hitting the shelves of local grocery stores in the form of protein-packed power bars, like Chapul and Exo. In Canada, Next Millennium Farms is leading the protein revolution with a wide selection of cricket flours, organic mealworm snacks and variety of roasted barbequed cricket flavours.

5 reasons to start eating insects:
  1. Eating insects adds healthy protein, unsaturated fat, B vitamins and iron to meals, with very little carbohydrates.
  2. Eating more insects could help fight world hunger, says UN Report.
  3. Insects consume few resources and mature much more quickly than other sources of protein. For example, raising insects for protein consumption is 20 times more efficient than raising beef.
  4. It takes up to 1000 times less water to raise insects than traditional meat sources.
  5. You’ve probably already been eating them! Anytime you see an ingredients list that includes carmine, cochineal extract or natural red 4, there’s sure to be little powdered cochineal bugs inside.
Want to learn more?
Check out this great BBC documentary Can Eating Insects Save the World?

Benediktiner Markt – Klagenfurt, Austria

The Benediktiner Markt (Benedictine Market) in downtown Klagenfurt is a vibrant and boisterous Carinthian market with a strong influence from neighbouring Friuli, Italy and Slovenia

What to See?

In the Benediktiner Markt, you’ll find a life-sized statue of a fisherman made of chlorite schist. Erected around 1606, the statue symbolizes the old fish market regulations. The inscription states: “So lang will ich da bleiben, sthan, pis mier meine Füsch und Khrebs abgan” (“I will not leave here before I have sold all my fish and crayfish.”) Previously located on Heiligengeistplats in a wall niche, the statue was relocated to the town hall before being moved to Benediktiner Platz.

According to legend, a fisherman from lake Wörthersee came to the market one day to sell his fish. A thrifty housewife doubted the accuracy of his scales but the fisherman swore: “If the scales are wrong, I will become stone!” Suddenly, the fisherman turned to stone for all the market-goers to see. To this day, the fisherman still stands waiting for his redemption.

What to Buy?

Fresh vegetables and fruit, seasonal delicacies, a variety of dried fruit, antipasta, fresh fish, artisanal Austrian and Italian meats and cheeses are available. On Saturdays, the market also offers other products such as woven baskets, fresh flowers, butter molds and other handcrafted wood items as well as sheepskin products. Vintage and antique products can be found along the outskirts of the market and a lively section dedicated to local wines, schnapps and liqueurs. Buskers add to the atmosphere with traditional Austrian music.

What to Eat?

The Market is a great place to relax, grab a cup of coffee or a pint of bear and have a bite to eat. The market halls – open Monday to Satuday – offer traditional Austrian delicacies such as bacon semmel sandwiches with horseraddish, frankfurters, kasnudeln, schnitzel and of course local beers! On sunny days, enjoy one of the outdoor patios where you can chat with the locals and watch the world go by.

Where?

Just a few minutes walk from the Neuer Platz, the Benediktiner market is located in the old town at Benediktiner Platz 9020 Klagenfurt, Carinthia.

When to Go?

The market is held every Thursday and Saturday from 6:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. although Saturday mornings are the best time to visit. Market halls are also open on weekdays from 6:30 am until 6 pm, and closed early on Wednesday at around 1:30 pm. In the market halls you can find fresh fruit and vegetables, some local schnapps as well as some food stalls and a coffee shop. Regional organic product stalls are also set up on Fridays from 6:30 am until 1:30 pm.

Want to See More?

Do you have a favourite market you’d like to share with The Village Plate?

We’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

Markthalle Kulinarium Burgenland – Eisenstadt, Burgenland

Markthalle Kulinarium Burgenland

This weekend welcomed back the Markthalle Kulinarium Burgenland – an indoor market held in the old stables of Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt, Burgenland.

Featuring some of the best regionally grown and produced artisan food products in the area, the Markethalle Kulinarium provides a great introduction to Burgenland and Lower Austria’s organic gourmet products and culinary heritage.

Esterházy PalaceAn hour or two is plenty of time to visit the market and savour some of the local flavours. Make the most of your visit with a tour of Esterházy Palace or a stroll through the palace gardens.

Where?

Esterhazyplatz 4, 7000 Eisenstadt, Burgenland, Austria

When?

The market runs twice a week from February 21st through to April 4th, 2015.

  • Fridays: 12:30 pm – 5 pm
  • Saturdays: 8:30 am – 12:30 pm

Local Vendors at the Markthalle:

A quick visit to Vulkanland – Zotter Chocolate, Vulcano Ham & Lagler’s Distillery

This past weekend we celebrated Valentine’s Day by taking a road trip to south eastern Styria.

Riegersburg Castle

Riegersburg Castle

              Very gloomy indeed!

With its medieval castle rising from a volcanic rock mountain overlooking a charming little village below – Riegersburg seemed like the perfect romantic V-day getaway.

However, while the forecast predicted sunny skies and balmy weather, fog covered the landscape with its grey haze making for a pretty gloomy atmosphere. To make matters worse, although we knew the castle itself would be closed over the winter, we didn’t know that the path leading up to the castle and the grounds were also closed (as of this year!) Since most shops and restaurants also reduced their hours during the off-season, the village was pretty much dead and sorely disappointing. How was that for great planning? Oups…

Thankfully, the region has much more to offer and especially for foodies! Since we only had a day to spare, this ended up being more of an exploratory trip than anything else but it was well worth it.

zotter Schokoladen Manufaktur

We headed straight to Zotter Chocolate Factory just in time to catch the 10 am tour. Zotters is the only ‘bean-to-bar’ chocolate manufacturer in Europe. They operate exclusively with fair trade organic ingredients and can trace the cocoa directly back to the producer.

Zotter Choco Shop TipsBefore the tour started, we were brought to the Cocoa Shop Theatre for a viewing of Ka’Kau Mayan Gold; the new Zotter movie following Josef Zotter, his wife Ulrike and their daughter Valerie on their trip to Belize.

Next up was an audio-guided tour through the factory where we watched the magic happen! At €14.90, the tour was a steal with tasting stations set up all along the way. Samples included everything from the types of sugar and powdered milk used to cacao and coffee beans straight through to chocolate fountains, flakes, couvertures, balleros, chocolate drinks and of course Zotter’s famous hand-scooped chocolate bars. While Zotter definitely deserves its very own post, we’ll keep this short since we plan on going back very very soon!

Zotter Chocolate Factory Tour

Vulcano Schinkenmanufaktur

Vulcano HamOur next stop was just a short drive away to Vulcano ham manufacturer in Auersbach. A regional trade-marked product, Vulcano is famous for its high quality meat and sausage produced from piggery to plate at the same location.

Guests to Vulcano are encouraged to tour the facilities starting with a short video. The video features the story of the Vulcana pig while tracing back the history of Vulcano Ham and the philosophy behind it. The tour then leads you through the factory where you can experience various exhibits, learn about the curing process and peer at the swinging air dried hams left to mature in the aging room. You can also visit the pigs themselves in a special viewing barn. Pigs enjoy an area of almost double the space required by law along with shower stalls, classical music and scratching posts. Looks pretty good for a pig’s life!

At the end of the tour, guests are treated with a plate of Vulcano delicacies and a glass of local Lava Bräu beer. Vulcano’s best known product is air-dried cured ham. Aged for up to 27 months, this Styrian prosciutto-style ham melts on your tongue as it unfolds with a unique, sophisticated and full-bodied flavour.

Lagler Distillery

Our final stop was Lagler Wellness Hotel and Distillery in Kukmirn which is just across the provincial border from Styria into Burgenland. Lagler offers full spa services in the heart of the country-side. Since we were just popping by for the night, we didn’t have time to enjoy all that Lagler has to offer. As a rather basic review, I can say that our room was clean, quiet and simple. The bed was comfortable, the heat adjustable, our dinner was hearty and breakfast was tasty. While the bar/service staff were a bit shy to speak English at first, it didn’t take long for them to warm up and we were treated to friendly, helpful and informative service. For us – naturally – the big draw was the Lagler Distillery. Since classes are only held on Fridays and Saturdays, we didn’t have the chance to attend but we’re excited to come back soon with a full review!

Tips and Suggestions!

With only 24 hours to spare, there was not nearly enough time to experience all that the region has to offer. While there is still much to do during the winter months, the best time to visit is from late spring to summer when the weather is fine and everything is open for high-season. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed our time and look forward to coming back soon.

Some of the things are our list for our next visit include:

Have you been to Vulkanland?
We’d love to hear your tips for our next visit in the comments section!

Day-Tripping: Bratislava, Slovakia

'Man at Work' - Čumil the Peeper by Viktor Hulík, 1997

‘Man at Work’ – Čumil the Peeper by Viktor Hulík, 1997

Bratislava – Central Europe’s best kept secret!

Snuggled along the banks of the Danube River, Bratislava is one of Central Europe’s best kept secrets.

Often overlooked in favour of Central Europe’s ‘Golden Triangle’ – Vienna, Budapest and Prague – Bratislava is Slovakia’s largest city but with a population of only 413,000, it is a relatively small compared its neighbouring capitals. While Bratislava’s size might seem limiting, this is more than accounted for by the city’s rich history, relaxed pace and friendly demeanor of local residents.

Off the beaten path…

We started with a visit to Trhovisko Miletičova, Bratislava’s largest open-air market. The market is open Monday to Friday from 6 am to 4:30 pm, Saturdays from 6:00 am – 12:00 pm and closed on Sundays. Summer is probably the best time to come, but Miletičova’s worth a visit even in the dead of winter. Few vendors spoke English, French or German, but they were very friendly and eager for us sample their products. While the heart of the market is filled with make-shift stalls and plastic sheeting, wooden huts surround the market where you’ll find bargain-priced clothing, footwear, flowers and authentic Slovak street food. At the back of the market, you’ll find a small cafeteria and a pub serving local foods and beverages such as Kofola, the Slovak version of Coca-Cola. For those of you with a bullet-proof liver try ordering the Slivovica, a double shot of plum distillate which – at more than 50% alcohol – is the perfect ‘medicine’ to stave off a winter’s chill!

Bratislava 3Bratislava 2

The BazaarBratislava 15

Our next stop was to Bratislava’s historical center and – as chance would have it – an artisan food market and a bazaar in the Old Market Hall (Stara trznica). On the main floor vendors sold artisan cheeses, meats, liqueurs and other local delicacies all offering samples to tempt your taste buds and fill your belly (woohoo – more free food!). Vintage clothing, used book and antique vendors were found  of the second floor and there were plenty of tables set up for market goers to relax with a cup of coffee or a mug of Svařák (Glühwein / mulled wine)

Old World Charm

The historical district is beautifully preserved with colorfully restored building facades and full of old world charm. At the heart of the Old Town, is the Main Square (Hlavné Námestie) featuring cobbled streets, 18th-century burghers houses, the famous Roland Fountain and the Town Hall (Stará radnica) which dates back to the 14th century. You can easily spend an entire day exploring the historical Old Town but keep in mind that many shops close early on Saturdays during the winter although some souvenir shops will stay open until around 6 pm.

Bratislava 18Travel Tip! Keep an eye out for a series of quirky yet charming statues installed around the Old Town, the most famous being Viktor Hulík’s ‘Čumil – the Peeper’, unveiled in 1997.

Bratislava Castle

Towering above the Old Town is Bratislava Castle (Bratislavský hrad). Situated on a hill overlooking the Danube river, this 17th-century Habsburg castle is often called ‘the upturned table’ due its 4 octagonal corner towers. To access the castle, take the pedestrian underpass by St Martin’s Cathedral (Dom svateho Martina) and follow the signs up the steps towards the castle gardens.

Bratislava Castle, Old Town, SlovakiaAs you make your way towards the castle, you’ll see a number of statues. My favourite is on the first rampart and appears to be a Rabenmutter (Raven Bratislava 28Mother) which loosely translates as a loveless or uncaring mother who doesn’t take care of her children. While I couldn’t find any specific information about her, she might be a depiction of Hans Christian Andersen’s fabled Anne Lisbeth. Andersen visited Bratislava (then called Pressburg) in 1841. During his visit Andersen was asked if he would write a tale about the city, to which he replied that there was no need to as the city was a fairytale in itself. There is a statue commemorating the famous fairy tale author in Hviezdoslav square.

On the second rampart, stands Saint ElizabSt. Elizabeth monument, Bratislava Castleeth (1207 – 1231). Elizabeth was princess of the Kingdom of Hungary and Landgravine of Thuringia, Germany. She was born at the Castle but later raised in the Thuringian court before marrying Louis IV who was to leave her a widow by the age of 20. A devout Catholic, Elizabeth known for ministered to the sick and giving clothing and money to the poor. After her death, Elizabeth quickly became a symbol of Christian charity and was canonized a few years later.

Equestrian statue of King Svatopluk I 'Svatopluk the Great' - by Slovak sculptor Ján KulichBy the main entrance of the castle, you’ll find a statue of King Svatopluk I (830 AD – 894 AD) – or Svatopluk the Great – by Slovak sculptor Ján Kulich unveiled in 2010. Svatopluk’s empire encompassed most of what is now modern Slovakia during his reign (870–871, 871–894).

Drawing back the Iron Curtain…

Occupying a unique place in history, Bratislava sits directly on the former Iron curtain which separated Western capitalist countries from the communist East until its fall in 1989.Bratislava 61

The castle grounds offer an excellent view of Most SNP (a.k.a. Nový Most or New Bridge) named after the Slovak National Uprising. The bridge was constructed between 1967 – 1972 across the Danube river. The world’s first asymmetrical suspension bridge, Most SNP is one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world. The bridge spans the river linking the Petržalka housing estate with the Old Town. At the top of the pylon, 85 m above ground, is a UFO-shaped restaurant.

Overlooking the city from the castle grounds, we were overwhelmed by the seemingly endless line of communist-era concrete housing blocks stretching across the vista above the Danube river. Known as the ‘Petržalka‘ housing estate, this area is a good example of what buildings built during the communist era look like and is one of the densest residential areas in Eastern Europe.

After the sun went down, it was time to make our way back to Austria. With only a day to visit, we only scratched the surface but with so much to see and do we’ll be back soon!

Have you visited Bratislava? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

To view more photos from out day trip to Bratislava, visit The Village Plate’s Facebook page!

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Saturday Mornings at Mosoni Piac, Moson Farmer’s Market

Farmer's Market, Mosoni Pia, Mosonmagyaróvár, HungarySaturday Mornings at Mosoni Piac

There is something charming and romantic about European markets. Whether you’re an expat or a tourist just passing through, a visit to the farmer’s markets is a great way to absorb the local culture and get a taste for the regional cuisine.

Mosonmagyaróvár – known as Óvár amongst locals and Moson by foreigners – lies along the Hungarian border with Slovakia and Austria. The market is located along Ostermayer Street by the Chapel Square. Unlike the large central markets in Vienna and Budapest, this quaint little weekly market caters mostly to locals.

The Moson market – known as Mosoni Piac – is a feast for the senses. Breath in the pungent aroma of smoked paprika, feel the texture of ripened fruit in your hands, watch market-goers chat with the vendors while they fill their wicker baskets, and listen to the intoxicating sounds of Hungarian folk music as you indulge your taste buds with juicy sausage or deep-fried lángos (traditional flat bread) slathered in garlic and topped with grated cheese.

When to Go:

Throughout the year, local farmers and vendors arrive in the wee hours every Saturday morning to set up shop and prepare for the day ahead. The market runs all day, but the best time to visit is between 8 to 11 am as many vendors start shutting down around noon. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather. While the market takes place rain or shine, you’ll find the best results when the weather is fine and vendors expect a good turn-out.

What You’ll Find:

Making your way through the kiosks, you’ll find fresh fruit and vegetables, honey and bee pollen, strings of garlic and dried peppers, and copious amounts of sweet, hot and smoked paprika. Other local delicacies commonly found at the market include mangalica pork and rolls of parenyica (a traditional smoked cheese). Depending on the season, you’ll also find savoury wild mushrooms or lush bundles of fragrant wild garlic leaves (called Bärlauch in German).

At the other end of the market, you’ll find a small flee market with a large selection of kitchenware, used books, clothing, hand-made wooden furniture, bicycles and other random items for sale.

What to Eat:

Take a break from shopping and grab a bit to eat by the town clock in the heart of the market. Here you can find grilled sausages, savoury lángos or satisfy your sweet tooth with chimney cakes baked on a spit over an open fire.

Things To Do:

Why not combine your visit with a wellness retreat. Take advantage of scenic bicycling routes, thermal baths, or visit one of the many massage parlours or beauty salons. With costs significantly less on the Hungarian side of the border, the town has also become a popular spot for low-cost dental tourism with more than 150 practicing dentists.

Have you been to Mosoni Pia? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Walnut Liqueur (Nocino) Recipe

Walnut Schnapps Nocino

Walnut Liqueur (Nocino)  just in time for Christmas!

Walnut Liqueur (Nocino) Recipe

While visiting a friend in Gols last summer, he showed me the walnut liqueur he was making and described the process he used. Walnut liqueur is a traditional Italian liqueur called nocino. While I’d never tasted it before, I was keen to give it a try. Making nocino takes time and patience but it’s a pretty easy process to follow if you get the timing right.

Traditionally, green walnuts are harvested on St. Jean Baptiste day (June 24th). We were a bit late picking our green walnuts but I figure summer hits Austria a bit later than it does in southern Italy so it wasn’t much of a problem. Our recipe is by no means traditional, in fact it was a bit of a hit or miss experiment. That being said, we will definitely be making more this summer as it was a big hit.

After bottling, we let our nocino mature for about 6 months. The flavours had mellowed beautifully and with hints of cinnamon and cloves, nocino makes for delightful Christmas spirits!

Ingredients:

  • 21 green walnuts quartered and then halved (try to pick them on June 24th),
  • 1 liter alcohol (we used 38% grain alcohol but you can use Everclear or vodka in a pinch),
  • 2 cinnamon sticks,
  • 9 whole cloves,
  • 3 cardamom pods,
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg,
  • 1 vanilla pod split lengthwise,
  • zest of one lemon,
  • simple syrup (2 cups sugar, 1 cup water).

Instructions:

1. Add the walnuts, lemon zest, cinnamon sticks and vanilla to your glass container. Top the ingredients with grain alcohol. We used a heritage hill style jar with rubber gaskets for a better seal.

2. Cover and let sit in the sunshine for about about 6 weeks.  Every day or two, give the nocino a good circular sloshing or stir. The nocino will begin to darken turning a dark amber colour. After a few days, the nocino will become almost black.

3. After 6 weeks, it’s time to make the sweetener. We chose to use a simple syrup made of 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. Just boil the water and pour it over the sugar, stir gently until the sugar is fully dissolved and let cool at room temperature. Once fully cooled, store in the fridge until ready to use. It’s important to let the simple syrup cool completely before putting it in the fridge. Otherwise, if it cools too fast, the syrup might develop crystals.

4. Strain the nocino to remove the nuts and spices. Continue to strain the nocino with a fine mesh sieve to clear the liquid of any sediment. You might have to let the nocino sit for a few hours or overnight for the sediment to settle before straining again. You can try using a coffee filter to remove fine particles.

5. After removing the sediment, it’s time to add the sweetener to the nocino. Let the nocino sit in a cool dark place for another 6 weeks.

6. After 6 weeks, bottle the nocino and store in a cool dark place for at least 6 months allowing enough time for the flavours to develop.

7. By Christmas, the nocino should be ready to drink but the longer you age it, the better it should taste.

Enjoy!

Life in Gols: Learning to make Geselchte Würste (Smoked Sausage)

Austrian-style Bacon and Sausages

Austrian-style Bacon and Sausages

Life in Gols:

Learning to make Geselchte Würste (Smoked Sausage)

Sausage – or Würstel – is a staple of the Austrian diet and the varieties available are endless. They can be smoked, boiled, baked, grilled or fried but my favourite of all is the Geselchte Würste found at Maria’s Heuriger zur Alten Scheune.

If you don’t know what a heuriger is, don’t worry. Before moving here, I hadn’t heard of a heuriger either! Heurigens first started appearing in the late 1700s as a way for winemakers to offer tastings of their new wines and – with any luck – sell a few bottles. Over time, heurigens began offering snacks to their patrons which usually consisted of cold cuts and sausages made in-house, semmel (bread rolls) and locally produced cheeses.

At Maria’s heuriger, all of the meat is butchered and prepared by her husband Reinhold. A butcher by trade, it was a real treat when Reinhold invited me to his shop one morning to learn how to make Austrian-style smoked sausages.

Since my father is also a butcher back home in Canada, I already had an idea of how sausages were made. However unlike the sausages my father used to make – infused with maple syrup or Italian seasonings – Reinhold’s sausages are smoked and have a definite heat to them. Heavy in Paprika and other herbs and spices, they carry a distinct regional flavour that I’ve become completely addicted to.

The day began long before sun rise. Although the snooze button and I had a deep relationship that morning, I was finally able to drag myself out of bed, get dressed and be at the shop with a thermos full of hot coffee by 4 am.

As early as it was, we were soon greeted by some young blokes making their way home from a hard night out on the town. Eager for a bite to eat, they stayed and chatted for awhile before heading home to bed. Before long, the older men trickled in to gossip about the latest news and slug down a schnapps or two before breakfast.

Meanwhile, Reinhold put me to work curing and seasoning the meat. Soon it was time to try my hand at stuffing the meat into the casings before hanging the chains of sausage and rolling them into the smoker.

We left that day with some lessons learned, a weeks’ supply of sausage we’d made and smiles from ear to ear.

Stay tuned for our next visit to Reinhold’s shop and our very own attempts at making Geselchte Würste at home!

My First Post!

This month, I started my first class with Algonquin College’s Social Media Certification programme. As a project for the classes, I’ve decided to create a blog about food, travel and life on the road.

I’ve always had a passion for kitchen gardening, cooking and learning about new foods. However, these general interests were brought to a whole new level when I started traveling and living overseas.

Over the years, I’ve travelled to more than 30 countries and spent time living and working in Afghanistan, Austria, Barbados, Botswana, Germany, South Korea, the U.K. and of course my native Canada. With each new voyage, my favourite way to learn about the culture, language and people was through food. It’s truly amazing how sharing a meal can not only bring people together but open your mind to a whole new way of seeing the world.

Tara and Jurgen in Bangkok

Jurgen & Tara visiting Wat Po in Bangkok, Thailand

From 2008 to 2009, I volunteered for a children’s garden based learning project with the FAO and doing research on food security and health in Barbados for my Master’s degree in 2008 – 2009. Slavery, colonialism, small island development and of course globalization and changing food systems had a tremendous impact not only on food security but also on dietary habits, health, agriculture and the way contemporary Barbadians view local foods. The lessons learned on an academic, as well as a personal level, have further developed my understanding of food as a reflection of place, time, culture and memory.

These days, I’m living in a little Austrian village called Gols which is in the province of Burgenland. Set on the border between Austria and Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia, Burgenland is the perfect place to learn about Central European heritage and old world cooking traditions.

I first came to Gols in February 2014 with my Austrian boyfriend Jurgen. Jurgen and I met in Bangkok and spent 3 fabulous months traveling around Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore before he convinced me to join him in Gols. But after 6 months in Austria, it was time to leave. I returned to Canada for a few months but now I’m back again on another tourist visa while we struggle through the immigration process (wish us luck!)

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting a lot more about life and food in Burgenland including posts about local traditions, foods, dining out and the challenges, frustrations, exploits and eureka moments of an expat learning to shop and cook in an Austrian kitchen.

Thanks for reading, I hope to see you soon!