Sturmzeit!

I’ve previously written about wine production in Vienna (view that post here) and mentioned Sturm, a partially fermented wine that is available late summer/early fall. The Gelbmanns Gaststube at the Rathaus film fest was selling Sturm last week, and a stand at the Neustifter Kirtag was also selling Sturm. I guess this means it’s almost Sturmzeit for the city, which means Sturm in every café and Sturm stands downtown.

White and red sturm for sale

White and red sturm for sale

You can see in the picture that the bottles are topped with foil rather than capped or stopped. What you can’t see is that the liquid in the bottle is bubbling like crazy because it’s still actively fermenting. We bought a bottle of the white Sturm (it’s also available in red), and it tasted better than I remember it tasting. We also discovered that Sturm comes in non-grape varieties:

Bottles of raspberry and apricot sturm

Bottles of raspberry and apricot sturm

We did not try the non-grape ones because we were running out of arms to carry things, but if we come across these varieties again we might try them. I’ve never seen this in the States before and so I don’t know whether we’ll still be able to enjoy these once we’re home. This an argument for drinking as much of it as we can, while we can.

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Neustifter Kirtag

Earlier in the spring I wrote about wine cultivation in Vienna and mentioned the Neustifter Kirtag. (The link to that post is here.) It’s now late August, and the Neustifter Kirtag is happening this weekend. My children’s kindergarten is on the street where the festival is held, and when I went to pick them up yesterday I had to dodge and weave my way through crowds of dirndl- and lederhosen-clad locals. I walked my kids through the festival yesterday and look forward to returning today to eat… well, everything in sight really. How can you blame me when this is some of what is on offer:

A whole cart dedicated to langos -- god bless whomever thought of this.

A whole cart dedicated to langos — god bless whomever thought of this.

They look so sweet until you read what they say. My favorite is "shit pants."

They look so sweet until you read what they say. My favorite is “shit pants.”

Yes

Yes

And hells yes. The Austrians know how to do it.

And hells yes. The Austrians know how to do it.

 

 

 

Weinort Langenzersdorf

After another less than pleasant excursion to the local Metro (Austria’s version of Sam’s Club), we were looking forward to dinner at the snack shack in the Baumax parking lot. It is exactly what it sounds like: a shack set up in the parking lot of a home repair supply store that sells food and beer… and stiffer drinks in case you had a rough shopping experience, which we inevitably do with a two- and three-year old in tow.

To our dismay the snack shack only had three hot dogs left, so we headed into the nearest village to search for a more substantial dinner as our two-year old shrieked “huuuungry! I am huuuuuuungry!” We parked in front of the first restaurant that looked open which, fortuitously, turned out to be the heuriger Weinort. We ordered a viertel of wine each and grape juice for the kids, who by this point had resorted to eating ants off the ground.

Better than ants

Better than ants.

My husband ordered the large portion of schnitzel, and the menu did not lie when it said “large.” It took both of us, with a little help from the kids, to finish the three large, tender, and perfectly fried pieces of pork schnitzel. It was accompanied by potato salad, which was almost as good as the main itself. Austrian potato salad is not generally prepared with mayonnaise; instead, it has some sort of tangy vinegar, red onions, and fresh herbs. I need to learn how to make this, maybe even in time for our 4th of July BBQ.

Gebackene gemüse

Gebackene gemüse

I ordered a plate of the gebackene gemüse, which is an assortment of deep fried vegetables served with tartar sauce. In this instance the gemüse consisted of mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant, and an unidentified yellow, fibrous vegetable (I think it may have been a type of squash). This dish is very popular in Vienna and I’ve not encountered a bad version yet.

Even though I enjoy the fried vegetables, I don’t think I’d attempt to make this at home because I dislike the smell of deep frying food. Maybe once we return to the States if a) I acquire a deep fryer and b) we have a house with a kitchen with good ventilation. I would like to learn how to make a good tartar sauce, though, so this is now on my list of things to learn to make.

 

 

Schlosskeller Mailberg

We spent the weekend at Schlosshotel Mailberg, located in the village of Mailberg an hour north of Vienna and maybe 10 km from the Czech border. Mailberg is in the middle of Austria’s Weinviertel (“wine quarter”) and the castle is surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards.

Schloss Mailberg

Schloss Mailberg

In addition to a hotel, the castle’s property houses a church, wine cellar, and restaurant. The restaurant is called Schlosskeller Mailberg (“Palace Cellar Mailberg”) and we had a fantastic dinner there last night, accompanied by lots of great local wine and the sounds of the church choir singing during the Saturday night Mass.

Bärlauch is very popular in Austria this time of year: it is used to season everything from nockerl to mashed potatoes, and bärlauchcremesuppe is almost everywhere. It’s a type of garlic and it tastes great as a seasoning, but I’ve never tried the soup before. After I confirmed that bärlauch is wild garlic and I can indeed find it in the States, I tried a bowl of the soup. It had a sliced red pepper in it and the combination of pepper and garlic was fantastic. I am definitely learning how to make this soup.

Bärlauchcremesuppe

Bärlauchcremesuppe

For my main course I had homemade pickles, which came with a few slices of skin-on roasted chicken. It didn’t look overly appetizing or filling, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. The pickles were served in the jar they had been canned in (I think they submerged the sealed jar in a pot of boiling water to warm up the contents) and consisted of baby corn, onions, and zucchini. The pickling juice was nice and tangy with a little bit of sweet, and the chicken went really well with it.

For dessert I had “Variation vom Rhabarber.”

Rhubarb, four ways.

Rhubarb, four ways.

The dessert was (left to right) rhubarb “chilli”, yogurt with rhubarb, and rhubarb compote. Across the top of the three jars are two slices of fried rhubarb with confectioner’s sugar on top. The “chilli” was rhubarb that had been diced and gelled with lime, garnished with a lime leaf. I am not 100% sure what was involved with the rhubarb yogurt because my daughter gobbled it up before I could get more than a bite. The rhubarb compote had a strong taste of clove in it.

In truth, the only part of the dessert that I was wild about was the fried rhubarb and I plan to recreate it by using my recipe for fried apples, substituting the rhubarb for apples. Overall, a great meal and a great weekend.

Heurigen

I am making Austrian dinners using new recipes tomorrow and Saturday, and hopefully they will turn out well so I can share the recipes. In the meantime, enjoy a couple pictures.

We live in the 19th district of Vienna, Döbling, which borders the Vienna woods and has a large number of vineyards and heurigen. There are paths through the vineyards on which all “wine friends” are invited to take a stroll, and a heuriger at the foot of the path so you can fortify yourself for a hike or relax after a walk through the vineyards (or both).

The vineyards behind my children's Kindergarten.

The vineyards behind my children’s Kindergarten.

A heuriger is a tavern that serves wines produced in the region, in many cases from grapes grown in the vineyard behind the building. Most heurigen have outside gardens where you can enjoy a glass of wine, food, and if you’re lucky, live accordion music. Not sure how to tell if a restaurant is a heuriger?  Look for the buschen (a bunch of fir branches) hung out front.

Open for business.

Open for business.

There are two seasonal highlights: Neustifter Kirtag and Sturmzeit. The Kirtag is a harvest celebration in August. The main street through Neustift am Walde is closed off and a street carnival is set up, complete with rides and bouncy castles for the kids and stalls selling all manner of handmade goods and food. The heurigen set up additional seating and serving stations on the street. Austrians flock in wearing their dirndls and lederhosen and spend the day drinking, dancing, and listening to music.

A heuriger during the Kirtag.

A heuriger during the Kirtag.

Sturmzeit begins in mid-September and lasts until about November. Sturm is partially fermented wine: it’s somewhere between grape juice and wine and is available in red and white. You can buy it by the plastic two-liter bottle in the grocery stores, but it’s capped with a piece of aluminum foil because it’s still actively fermenting. There are also booths set up throughout the city where you can buy fresh sturm by the glass, and some of the cafes sell it as well. It’s not unique to Austria but since this is where I first learned of it, it’ll be “Austrian” to me.

That is all that I have to say about wine in Vienna for today. Thirsty?