Sunday, November 1, 2015

Törggelen! A food and wine fall feast!

 A brief history and background:

Törggelen (pronouced turckle-in) is an autumn tradition in Südtirol (South Tirol, Italy), but also a tradition in (North) Tirol in Austria as well. South Tirol was in Austria until 1919 , this province is 2/3 German speaking but everything is usually bilingual in German and Italian, as such South Tirol and North Tirol share many similar traditions. Törggelen begins in early October and lasting until late November or early December Apparently, after the new wines were 'turned' the winegrowers would walk to the next winegrower to have him taste the young wine (which is why this is more popular in Südtirol as there are hundreds of wineries there, it's slightly warmer and sunnier than on the Northern side of the Alps in Innsbruck). Now, typically small restaurants, huts, guest houses, or farms host groups for the feast traditionally served with red wine, sausage, sauerkraut, and roasted chestnuts.

While our Törggelen experience took place in 2015 the roots of this tradition were still be apparent. Eight of us traveled to Klausen, Südtirol, Italy, a small town of 5,000 in order to have a better and more authentic Törggelen experience, than what would be available in Innsbruck (which would be great, I'm sure, but a little more touristy and expensive I think). The extra travel (about 80 minute drive) proved to be worth while as our experience was one we'll always remember. Additionally, the drive through to Alps to Italy was filled with spectacular vistas.

Our restaurant (Hienghof) was step atop a hill with a vineyard, which can only be reached by a narrow and windy road, featured a homey and comfortable aesthetic and familial atmosphere.  As soon as we were seated and comfortable we were offered red wine, water (still or sparkling), and apple juice. Our table took the lot and soon after our beverages arrived we were brought home-made bread. We were then asked about appetizers and had a choice of three, two soups (Gerstlesuppe and
Sauersuppe) and a pasta (Schlutzkrapfen).

 I took the Schlutzkrapfen and Dr Husband took the Gerstlesuppe. Both were good but I preferred my pasta. We drank wine from blue mugs (Krüge) and before we knew it our main course arrived. The main course consisted of sauerkraut, pork ribs, pork sausage, and blood sausage. It was served in a large iron tray. We stuffed ourselves with food and wine and Kahlua helped clean up anything which fell to the floor. After the meal (and seconds) we were given options of schnapps to try to go along with the Marillenkrapfen (it was a long fried dough filled with apricot jam, the other version is very much like a donut). I had a dark-nut schnapps and another with an orange color while Dr Husband took the blackberry schnapps. The schnapps are considered a digestive to help with heavy meals. I am not sure if that is how it works, but you certainly feel better after one or two ;)

Overall it was a very special experience and we are looking forward to trying it again. Especially because we were too early for roasted chestnuts!

Fuji Sushi in Innsbruck is Awesome!

I try not to get cravings for things not from here because it will ultimately end in at least a little disappointment (even our burri-feaux are just "pretty good"). This weekend I was feeling indulgent and a little sad Halloween isn't really celebrated here despite there being a growing number of trick or treaters and Halloween decor in stores. I wanted something I hadn't had in a very long time, something foreign, like me living in this Halloween-less land... I wanted sushi.

I'd been met with "ok" sushi in Innsbruck and Vienna before, so I kept my expectations in check when Dr Husband found a restaurant by Googling "am besten sushi in Innsbruck." We walked over a mile to a very small and modest restaurant situated in the same complex as a police station. The sign out front was partially erased and listed an "all you can eat" menu as well as some sushi specials. With some skepticism, we walked inside.

The first thing I noticed was the conveyor belt full of different foods in the center of the small room. There were a fair number of patrons, always a good sign, but the different conversations and constantly moving food were definitely overwhelming.  We were seated in front of the belt and asked what we wanted to drink. Dr Husband asked for a menu, which was very helpful as it bought us some time to get our bearings. It turned out that the conveyor belt of food was all you can eat, for a very reasonable price. We decided to go for it, and ordered teas to drink.

The food was awesome and surprisingly varied. I had different types of maki and nigiri sushi, fried chicken, fried rice, stir-fried chicken and veggies in sauce, and a ginger-based salad. Additionally, I tried Dr Husband's stir-fried beef and veggies in a sauce. He also had a friend corn dumpling which he said was good, but I did not try. We were so pleasantly surprised by the food and value that we were already talking about how we couldn't wait to go back again. The staff was all very nice, and the value to food quality made us very happy overall.