So, over Christmas 2020 the COVID-19 entered my household. These posts are those that had to be written up later because being at the computer for more than 15 minutes made me feel beyond tired. I can cook, but I can’t type – it’s very strange. Still, these posts were done well after the fact so apologies in advance.
List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Austria
Right, I am officially at the halfway point for all the continents. It’s a bit of a weird one that Europe, arguably the easiest to find recipes for, is the final one that went across this landmark. Thing is, thanks to health issues I have been pushing this one back to where I can actually be on my feet for more than 10 minutes without my back wanting to give way or my post-Covid fatigue getting to me. I am not quite there yet, but for delicious food I am the idiot that pushes themselves.
Austria, whilst not a massively well known nation for food outside some of their signature cakes, holds a special place in my heart when it comes to food. The southern regions are where my first taste of Germanic food came from and I got more in touch with my own heritage. Cauldrons of leberknodel soup, amazing central European sausages, the birth of my love of Spezi and the world famous Wiener schnitzel. Genetically I may be predominantly British, but my tongue belongs to Central Europe.
Unlike most countries on this list, I went into this post knowing exactly what I wanted to make. I wanted to recreate food that I had on my previous trips to Kitzbühel and Vienna. To see if I would be able to actually make proper Austrian tasting food whilst sat in lockdown Britain and having to take multiple naps a day to deal with fatigue. Now that I have done this, I can unequivocally say that I succeeded. A big thanks to my mum for importing some Mezzo Mix for me so this could be my own authentic experience.
Main: Tiroler Gröstl
Tiroler Gröstl is by no means a national dish. Even when you look at the Wikipedia entry for the region of Tyrol, they don’t mention this dish. However, this is something that I have had both times I have been in Austria and it is the first thing that I thought of making when it came to ticking off this country. I mean, this is a fried hash made using bacon, onion and potato with caraway and hot-sweet paprika as spices. What isn’t there to love?
Using this recipe from the Austrian tourist portal I made something that transported me. I think it also helped that, for Christmas, I have ordered in a bunch of meats – including speck from the Tyrolean region. Not enough for the whole dish, so it was half speck and half smoked streaky bacon. I have to say, this mix of meats was perfect in giving it that proper feel. Although, if I am to make this again, I’ll have to do it with just regular bacon as I won’t be able to find Tyrolean speck at a cheap enough price to justify it.
This is one of those dishes that I remember being warming and, now I have made my own, I can definitely confirm those magical properties. I just wish that there had been enough for seconds. Oh well though, there was always dessert.
Austria is well known for their patisserie and their cakes. However, I had no real interest in trying to make a sachertorte or Viennoiseries. Even before the fatigue hit, I knew that trying to make my own flaky pastry would be a fools errand – so I wanted to make something that would go well with the gröstl. My mum suggested Kaiserschmarrn – an Austrian dessert that is made of shreds of fluffy pancakes that have been caramelized with butter and sugar. She was so right to suggest this.
I had a bit of a misadventure when making this (which is not at all down to the excellent recipe by Plated Cravings) because this is such a thick pancake and my pan probably was a bit small. Meant that the bottom caught a little, but that sure didn’t affect the taste. The raisins I left to macerate in rum for 4 hours, those will have affected the taste. This was a beautiful dessert and, again, I just wish I had more of it.
At this point, I can really go many places with the next country. Being that I am still very wobbly, it will need to be something that I can make without being on my feet too long. Still though, that will leave me with more than enough options.