When in Innsbruck…
Innsbruck’s clean and brisk alpine air and stunning mountain views combined to take my breath away. The little breath I had left I used to inhale my first schnitzel. Who knew flattened, breaded and fried meat was so good? It turns out that a lot of people know how crazy good schnitzel is. I have been missing out.
There’s more to Austria than schnitzel of course. As part of the trip the organizers arranged for dinner at a local eatery, Stiftskeller. The restaurant was packed with people and the wait staff, their arms full of plates and beer glasses of various shapes and sizes, dodged and darted their way as they made return journeys between the various dining rooms and the kitchen.
That night, for dinner, I had one of Stiftskeller’s specialties: pork knuckle. One of the organizers had told us that it would be a hefty meal so D and I shared a plate of dumplings to start. They were three in total, including one made with cheese. I could have eaten just that for dinner.
Then came the pork knuckle — with another dumpling — and its savoury gravy. The picture doesn’t do it justice; it was as good as it was huge and it was enormous! (No, I didn’t finish my plate.)
The flavours of the slow-roasted pork with the tender dumplings mingled well with my chilled beer. The gravy was rich and flavourful and had me looking for a piece of bread to clean the plate. Never mind the calories; there’ll be time to work them off later.
Tradition has it that in the Rittersaal room of the restaurant, where we dined, people go up to the balcony and belt out their national anthems. I don’t know how true that is but four hearty Canadians got up, me included, and did the maple leaf proud.
The following day I finally introduced my stomach to the schnitzel. To be specific, I had a wiener schnitzel vom schwein (a pork schnitzel) with potatoes and a cranberry relish. I regret not having schnitzel every day of the trip; I enjoyed it that much. I could have eaten that for every meal.
What I do not regret was sampling each and every pastry and cake that somehow found their way on my plate. Top on the list was the apfelstrudel, apples and raisins wrapped in a flaky pastry served with vanilla sauce on the side. It was so good. I also sampled some of the best croissants I’ve ever had each morning at our hotel, Hotel Romantik Schwarzer Adler. Our afternoon break included treats of squares of moist chocolate cake, tartlettes, and rolls with sweet or savoury fillings.
Innsbruck was a breathtaking and decadent start to the year. If the rest of the year continues in the same vein I may need to take up running!