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Upper Austria

Dumplings, beer and so much more

Gießenbachmühle on the Donausteig
Refreshing stop on the Donausteig

Dumplings and beer are generally considered the culinary hallmarks of Upper Austria.

This province has all the variations of this dish, from baked Mühlviertel dumplings to their smaller counterparts from the Innviertel. They are usually served with a hearty "Bratl in der Rein", as a pork roast is called here, plus the local beer. It usually comes from one of the many microbreweries in the nearby Mühlviertel, where ancient tradition, crystal-clear water from bedrock aquifers and hops assure the typical regional taste. Two prime examples are the Hofstetten Brewery or Trappist beer from Engelszell Abbey.

Most tradition: fresh and fruity

The chief beverage besides beer is cider made of apples or pears, known in Austria as “most”. A good portion of the 1.2 million fruit trees in Upper Austria grow in meadow orchards in the Danube region with its favorable climatic conditions. Many of them are over a century old and some as high as 45 meters. Today, this beverage is served not only in rustic most taverns but also in top gourmet restaurants. In ordinary restaurants, it has always accompanied the typical local “Brettljause”, slices cold roast meat, cheeses, etc. served with bread on a wooden plate. The slightly fermented fruit juice is also used in cooking - recipes range from most soups and most roasts to most palatschinken (the local crepes).

Culinary treasures from the Danube

Delicacies come not just from the land but also from the Danube, from the river itself. One example is the wels catfish, a rare fish weighing up to 50 kg. Its white, nearly boneless meat is superb for frying and grilling. Its mere presence in the Danube shows how excellent the water quality is. In general, local edible fish from the Danube tend to have firm meat from constantly swimming against the current. Zander, European perch, northern pike and carp are all typical.

Sweet and prominent

Linzer Torte
Linzer Torte

Perhaps the most famous dessert in the Danube region of Upper Austria and also one of the best known in Austria as a whole is the Linzer torte. It is made of shortcut pastry with loads of butter, almonds and hazelnuts plus redcurrant jam and covered with a characteristic lattice of dough strips. It has been around since the early 17th century. This delicious dessert was once reserved for the wealthy. Its name stems from “Linzer Teig” (Linz dough). The latter, in turn, was reportedly named after women from Linz who were known as excellent bakers.

A number of additional traditional desserts attest to the diversity of the regional cuisine. The range of apple recipes is almost endless, from Apfelkrapfen, the local donuts, to Apfelschmarren, apple slices mixed with cut up pancakes, and Apfelschnitten, a juicy apple cake. In general the locals take everything growing outside their doors and transform it into a more refined form. Kürbis-kartoffeldalken and mostpalatschinke are two more examples. The first is a mix of cooked pumpkin and potatoes coated with egg and fried; the latter, local cider crepes. People also love to use anything fruity, from cherries to rhubarb, as the filling for strudel and further enhance it with pot cheese, nuts or poppy-seeds.

These down-to-earth delicacies are served in countless dining establishments ranging from rustic taverns and restaurants with good home cooking to gourmet temples. Besides two award-winning restaurants (two toques from Gault Millau), the Danube area also has two dozen Donausteig-Wirte restaurants as well as several GenussWirte and KultiWirte restaurants. These three restaurant associations are dedicated to cultivating the regional cuisine.

For more information about culinary delights in Upper Austria along with recipes to try out yourself, please click here.

Impressions from gourmet tours in Upper Austria