What’s A Buschenschank?
A buschenschank is a Styrian tavern run by local winemakers where they can also sell this year’s wine under special during four fall months. It is very similar to a Strausswirtschaften in Germany or the heuriger in Eastern Austria. We had seen a few heurigers in Vienna, the wine city, but hadn’t ventured into one till we visited Graz, choosing rather to eat at the street stalls.
Buschenschanks that are only open a few months a year, would traditionally show that they were open by hanging a handful of conifer or fir twigs in a buschen or bush above the entrance. The buschenschank menu usually includes light snacks, fruit juices or wines, and sometimes desserts.
So instead of spending the evening in the town center after a long day of seeing attractions, we visited a rather offbeat Styrian tavern. It was still light when we got to Buschenschank Schaar, and the place looked amazing. The owners, Christa and Gerhard Velan were perfect hosts. The other visitors to the tavern were mostly locals. Our friends Stefanie and Rupert who are local to Graz too, had been there years earlier and ordered us the perfect mix of food and wine.
The Brettlejause is a traditional plate of salamis, hams, eggs, pickles, salad, cheese, liptauer, and horseradish – something that tasted very much like wasabi but not as strong. We also tasted Käferbohnensalat, which is a salad made of red kidney beans and green pumpkin seed oil. Delicious!
But the first thing I tasted made me cry, literally. It was something akin to a wasabi, but stronger. Rupert told us that if you leave it for some time, it loses its strength. It was called Kren in German. Later found out that it was horse-radish! It stung when fresh, but wasn’t that bad if you let it be. I loved the fatty pate that was mixed with some crunchy bits, called Grammelschmalz, as did Stefanie. Ate quite a bit of it, no thought for calories. But then, when have I ever bothered about calories?
We tasted red wine too, while Stefanie and Rupert had the white. New wine from the vineyard, great taste! Continuing with tasting traditional drinks, Rupert ordered us some Sturm, as Most was not available. Most and Sturm as both pre-stages of wine. Now, Sturm is sweet, but the Most tasted almost like a mix of cider and vinegar. Yet, down it went quite quickly, sip by sip. I’d probably say I’m not a fan of Most. I prefer Sturm and regular table wine. But it was an interesting drink to try.
While snacking on the brettljause, we spent a good couple of hours talking about food and wine, different cultures, the places we’d been to, and the places we want to go. We learned a lot about Stefanie and Rupert and their love of cycling, not to forget their nine bicycles. Sarah told stories of bungee jumping and wine tours in South Africa. I added my two bits about different places.
We finally had to leave when the buschenschank was closing for the night. It was an enjoyable evening eating brettlejause with lovely people who we do hope to see again soon. If you visit, make sure you try the brettlejause and Sturm.
Contact Buschenschank Schaar
Address: Kaiserwaldweg 51, 8010 Graz, Austria
Telephone: 0316/ 38 18 78
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