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Klagenfurt

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I’ve recently returned from Klagenfurt in Austria. Although it was mainly work, I did have the chance to try out a few local beers and a couple of restaurants.

I stayed in the new Lindner Seepark Hotel am Worthersee, a plush hotel near the lake.  Most nobable were the spa and the breakfast.  I’m so often disappointed with hotel breakfasts, even at the pricier end you’re served up scramble made with powdered egg, greasy cheap sausages and fruit from a can. Here you’re offered a variety of fresh fruit, meats, fish and cheeses, wonderful bread and eggs cooked to order (scrambled, fried, boiled or as a omelette).

Image: The Lindner Seepark Hotel am Wörthersee

On the first night I ate in the hotel restaurant – sepia spaghetti with grilled steingarneln (some type of prawn that I couldn’t find an exact translation for) – it was tastey, but the portion was so small that I ate the complete bread basket (2 rolls and 2 rye bread slices). Personally I think that the waiting staff should tell you what to expect, particularly if you only order one course.

After our first day’s work at the university we were treated to a wonderful meal at Restaurant Maria Loretta. I chose two courses from the daily specials, so unfortunately they aren’t listed on the website, but the menu does give you a good idea of what’s available. My first dish was Eierschwammerln cooked in a bacon and cream sauce with a dumpling. Eierschwammerln are in season and  seemed to be on offer everywhere.  A quick google search tells me that they are chanterelles (in english), or Pfifferling [1] (in german) – ‘Eierschwammerln‘ seems only to be used in Austria. My second course was a simply grilled fish served with a lemon, a fresh salad and parsley potatoes. The fish wasn’t one I knew, but it looked and tasted like a brown trout. All of the fresh water fish that the restaurant serves are caught locally in the lake and stored live in a big water tank – you just don’t get any fresher. I didn’t have room for dessert, although I was very nearly tempted by the summerberries with icecream and cream. All in all it was a great evening – friendly co-workers, good conversation and friendly professional service staff.

Image: Restaurant Maria Loretta [2]

A reduced group went to eat in town on the second night as some people had flown out already. After a quick visit to the central square to see the statue of St. George and the Dragon we headed to the courtyard of what’s know locally as Zum Pumpe (more correctly as Gastwirtschaft Zum Großglockner). Apparently it’s a bit of an institution in Klagenfurt, but personally I wasn’t too impressed, the beer was good, and I loved the strap line –  “The beeriest beer” – but they didn’t offer anything for the non-beer drinkers among us, and the service was pretty rude.  The goulash, which it’s also known for, looked pretty impressive but with a waitress like the one we had we didn’t want to hang about!

Image: The Dragon                                                           Image: Beer at Zum Pumpe

A short walk took us to Bierhaus Augustin, not dissimilar in look and feel to Zum Pumpe but bigger and a great deal friendlier.  We shared a selection of smaller plates as a starter – a kind of austrian tapas. These included “Schweinbratenbrot mit Kren, Senf und Gurken”, “Erdäpfel paniert in Nussbrösel mit grünem Salat und Joghurtdressing” and “Ausgelöste Klachlsuppe” – in order: “rye bread with sliced pork, horseradish, mustard and gerkins”, “green salad with potatoes cooked in buttered breadcrumbs” and a “pig’s trotter soup”. The soup was good, it was made with pot-barley and was seemed quite like a soupier version of a stew my mum used to make; the potatoes were nothing to write home about; but I loved the bread and pork. So often it’s the simplest things that taste the best. The pork was marbled with fat, and thinly sliced; it melted in the mouth. But it was the quality of the bread and the horseradish that made it into something special. At first I thought there were shavings of cheese on top, but the first mouthful and the explosion of horseradish in my mouth, nose and eyes quickly reminded me of just how pungent fresh horseradish can be. My main course was “Zanderfilet in Knoblauchbutter auf Mangold-Blattspinatgemüse und Petersilerdäpfel” (a steak of pike-perch with chard, spinach, garlic and parsley potatoes ). Another dish from the specials list, it was perfectly cooked – still moist but with a crisp skin – and the garlic, chard and spinach complemented it perfectly. Accompanied by a couple of local beers and some interesting discussions about how languages are taught in school, and the urge that we all have to clear our plates made it a great night out. The evening ended with a (passable, but not great) whisky sour in the hotel bar.

Klagenfurt itself is a beuatifult town that I’d like to go back to sometime. The people were friendly, the beer and food good and the surroundings beautiful.  If I hadn’t been in a meeting room for two days I would have hired a bike and cycled around the area.  I did find a spare hour to swin in the lake at the Stadt Strandbad though, which I highly recommend – clear warm water and a large grassed to laze the day away.

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[1] Whilst googling eierschwammerln, I also found this german phrase, which kind-of tickled me: er kümmert sich keinen Pfifferling um seine Kinder = he “doesn’t give a fig” or “couldn’t care less” about his children

[2] Photo courtesy of Anita from Klagenfurt, via a Creative Commons license.

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Written by hudsons

July 14, 2009 at 7:54 pm