When gourmands rave about ‘Austria's Delicatessen’, they are usually talking about the beautiful southern city of Graz.
Located just two hours south of Vienna, this food-crazy city is the capital of Austria’s culinary delights, showcasing all the food wonders from the nearby Styrian region.
This area boasts a mild Mediterranean climate that is shielded from the harsh westerly winds of the North Atlantic. The city lies in a basin that opens to the south, giving Graz a warmer climate than visitors would expect at this altitude.
The history of Graz dates back to the Copper Age. The city’s prime location on the River Mur and Schlossberg Mountain made it a defensible and thriving location. It also became the target of many invading cultures – and everyone from the Romans to the Slavs have tried to control Graz.
Today the citizens of Graz live peacefully in a multicultural city that boasts a fine international cuisine scene. Flavours from all around the world are combined from the freshest Styrian ingredients with the flair.
During the summer months, the region’s cuisine truly begins to shine. As the cherries, apricots and summer mushrooms begin to ripen, they are shipped to the restaurants, bars and coffeehouses throughout Graz, where they are promptly transformed into innovative and mouth-watering dishes.
The city’s two central farmer's markets are bursting with locally grown produce during the summer months. This includes the region's most famous export: pumpkinseed oil. Produced only in the Styrian region, pumpkinseed oil has an intense nutty flavor that is rich with polyunsaturated fat. It is used as both a salad dressing and a topping for desserts.
Eateries like Der Steirer Restaurant showcase the region’s seasonal ingredients with flair. Its Styrian tapas paired with local wines pull in thousands of customers each day. Der Steirer's artisanal goat's cheese, topped with pumpkinseed oil and paired with a Sauvignon Blanc scented with gooseberry and elderflower is a local favourite.
However, while the cuisine in Graz is at its peak in the summer months, the winter months bring the traditional Alpine cuisine of Austria to the city. With rich, dark breads, savory cheeses and tender meats on the menu, the Alpine winter foods of Graz create some of the best comfort-food-dishes in Europe.
Winter also brings the Christmas market to town. In Graz, it’s not just about shopping for Christmas trees or decorations – it is also a place to enjoy a hot mug of mulled wine filled with cloves and rich cinnamon, or an iconic roasted chestnut hot off the open fire.