Ötzi the Iceman

otziOkay, so this post has very little to do with food. But it does have to do with travel, super cool things, and medicinal mushrooms so I guess it fits the bill!

While I would love to say that I had the chance to see Ötzi in person, I only leaned about him by chance after returning home to Canada while researching local wild mushrooms. It’s a darned shame, I know! 

Anyway, for those of you visiting Italy in the near future make sure to visit the Ötzi the Iceman exhibit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy.

Who the heck is Ötzi the Iceman?

Ötzi  is a well-preserved glacier mummy who lived during the Copper Age sometime between 3359 and 3105 BCE.

Mummy Otzi the icemanÖtzi’s body was discovered accidentally by German hikers along the Schnalstal/Val Senales Valley glacier in September 1991. Yikes! What would you do if you stumbled across a 5,300-year-old corpse?

The area where Ötzi was found is known as the Ötztal Alps, which was how the Iceman got his name. However, Ötzi also goes by many other names! Because the Ötztal Alps are located near the Similaun mountain and Hauslabjoch along the border between Austria and Italy, Ötzi is also known as: 

  • the Similaun Man,
  • Man from Hauslabjoch,
  • the Tyrolean Iceman,
  • Homo tyrolensis,
  • Frozen Fritz, or
  • the Hauslabjoch mummy.

What’s so cool about Ötzi?

Aside from being Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy… Wait! What am I talking about? He’s a naturally occurring glacial mummy! How freakin’ cool is that??? Okay, okay but there’s more!

otzi birch

Because Ötzi’s belongings were excellently preserved along with him in the glacier, scientist were able to learn a truckload of new things about how people lived during the Copper Age.

Among Ötzi’s possessions were two pieces of birch polypore (birch fungus) threaded onto hide strips. Since the fungus has a long history of being used for it’s medicinal benefits, it’s assumed that  Ötzi  might have been using it as a sort of ancient Neolithic ‘First Aid Kit’ to combat lyme disease which is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected deer ticks.

Click to learn more about the Iceman’s Equipment!

How did Ötzi die?

Poor Ötzi experienced a grizzly death at the hands of a bowman. That’s right, those German tourists hiking around the Alps happened across a 5300 year old homicide!

What led to Ötzi’s murder remains unclear but scientists are busy tying to solve the mystery:

Curious facts about Ötzi the Iceman

1. The Iceman has living relatives. In fact, research has indicated that Ötzi has at least 19 genetic relatives living in Austria’s Tyrol region;

2. Ötzi wasn’t on his game. After giving the Iceman a full-body health check-up, scientists discovered that Ötzi suffered from worn joints, hardened arteries, gallstones, a nasty growth on his little toe (possibly caused by frostbite), he was lactose intolerant and probably Lyme disease;

3. For someone with so many living relatives thousands of years later, researchers suspect that Ötzi was infertile. He also had a gap between his two front teeth, lacked both wisdom teeth and was missing a 12th pair of ribs.

4. The Iceman had tats!  Numbering over 50 in total, Ötzi’s remains were covered from head to foot in Copper Age tattoos. Unlike modern-age tattoos, Ötzi’s were made by making fine cuts in the skin and then rubbing in charcoal. The result was a series of lines and crosses mostly located on parts of the body that are prone to injury or pain, such as the joints and along the back.

5. Ötzi the Iceman’s stomach contents included 30 different types of pollen. According to scientists, Ötzi  ate his final meal – grains and meat from an ibex (a species of nimble-footed wild goat) – just a few short hours before his grizzly death.

Want to see Ötzi the Iceman in person?

Visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy where Ötzi and his artifacts have been exhibited since 1998.

Sources:

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Grammeln & Schmalz (Austrian cracklings & lard)

Grammeln is an Austrian specialty made ​​from pork fat but you can also find them in Germany.  Unlike cracklings – which are made from pork skin – grammeln are bits of connective tissue that get seared in the rendering process when producing lard. 

Variations:

Around the world, you can find different variations of grammeln such as Čvarci (Serbia), Chicharrónes (Spain), Scrunchions in Newfoundland (Canada) or cracklings in the UK, the USA and Canada. Another variation is gribenes – made from chicken or goose skin – which is popular in Jewish cuisine.

How to eat grammeln?

Grammeln is typically eaten as a snack on rye bread with a pinch of salt or mixed with lard (schmalz) and used as a spread called ‘Grammelschmaltz‘. While it might sound gross, grammelschmaltz on rye bread garnished with some thinly sliced spring onions is absolutely delicious!

Lard-based biscuit with bits of grammeln mixed in – called ‘Grammelpogatscherl‘ – are also very popular. Here in Gols, you’ll see a lot of Grammelpogatscherl served in houses, at events or when visiting the wine makers. Grammeln can also be used as an filling for dumplings or strudel.

Where to find grammeln?

While you can find grammeln at most local grocery stores in Austria, I’d highly recommend the home-made variety! On your next trip to Austria, make sure to to visit a Heuriger or Weinstube (wine gardens serving food). Here you’re almost sure to find fresh grammeln or grammenschmaltz to snack on. Pair it with a glass of white wine – such as a Grüner Veltliner or a Welschriesling – for best results.

Coming soon!

  • How to make Grammeln and Schmalz at home!

What’s your favourite Austrian snack? I’d love to hear from you!

Please share your recipes and stories below.

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Easter in Austria

It was a busy month here in Gols and my blog had to take a back seat for awhile.

As many of you know, I’ve been taking classes towards my certification in Social Media through Algonquin college’s online education programme. With the winter term coming to an end, I’ve been catching up with college assignments. The classes are interesting and it’s great to have something to occupy my mind occupied while I wait for my writing and photography licenses to process.

The past month also saw the arrival of spring weather and Easter festivities. This year, I joined my boyfriend’s family for lunch at the local resto-pub where we hung out,  drank wine and socialized until late in the night. Chocolates were passed out, coloured boiled eggs were knocked together while the kids drew pictures and worked on their puzzles.

We also found time to explore a few of the Easter Markets in Vienna. I love the Easter Markets with their piles of intricately decorated eggs, pussy willows and tulips, wicker baskets and pottery displayed in charming wooden huts. During the day, children ran around laughing,  the grown ups drank spritzers and tourists snapped pictures while the smell of candied nuts filled the air. Although the weather was a bit schizophrenic, we did have a few days of fine weather which was perfect for exploring and soaking up some sunshine after a long and dreary winter.

Here are some photos from Vienna’s Easter Markets. I hope you enjoy them!

To see more check us out on Facebook or visit us on Flickr!

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!

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!

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!