One of the stops on our autumn Austrian trip was Graz. We spent two nights there which was quite enough to see the entire city. Having a limited number of days off, we were deliberating between Klagenfurt and Graz, but Graz won because of the Schloßberg or Schlossberg. It was a good climb. But that’s another story. What I wanted to write about today was Stefanie and Rupert, and Brettlejause at the Buschenschank.
My sis and I looked for places to couch surf in Graz, but didn’t receive any responses. So we went ahead and booked a hotel pretty close to Jakominiplatz. The next day, as luck would have it, Stefanie offered to host us. A tad too late, since we couldn’t cancel our reservations; but we decided to meet up for dinner on our second day.
Barely getting there
Now getting from our place to Stefanie’s wasn’t that difficult. All we had to do was take Tram Number 4 to Jakominiplatz, and then take Tram Number 6 to Pluddemanngasse and we’d easily get there in half an hour, or half that time.
So we started out from our hotel and settled in Tram Number 4 chatting about the day, when the tram halted halfway saying it was the last stop. Ha! Nice. So naturally get off, look at the time table, take another tram to Jakominiplatz; and of course miss the connecting tram to Stefanie’s place, and wait 20 minutes for the next one. Thankfully we had a 24 hour tram ticket.
Didn’t sound that bad. Except, we hadn’t taken a local phone connection and were surviving on the free Austrian Wi-Fi (which I must say is a lot better than other European countries). So we couldn’t call Stefanie or her boyfriend Rupert, and only hoped to get Wi-Fi access to Whatsapp them. So Wi-Fi works, Whatsapp messages sent but not delivered, hoped they’d wait for us, and caught the next tram to Pluddemanngasse (which by the way was also the last one in that direction for the day.) Do people not get out after 7 in Austria, really?
Meeting Stefanie and Rupert
Stefanie had gone back home, seen our messages and came back half an hour later to find us. We were thankful, else we would have had to find our way back sans a bus. Hmm! Stefanie is such a lively woman, a good contrast to the calm Rupert. We talked about India and Austria, travelling and couchsurfing, food and wine, and so much more, all on the way to the buschenschank. Well, that’s probably because it was a good walk to Kaiserwaldweg on the outskirts of Graz, where Buschenschank Schaar is located. Worked up a good appetite too!
A buschenschank is a Styrian tavern run by local winemakers where they can sell this year’s wine under special during four fall months. It is very similar to a heuriger in Eastern Austria or a Strausswirtschaften in Germany. 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.
It was still light when we got to Buschenschank Schaar, and the place looked amazing. Christa and Gerhard Velan were perfect hosts. Stefanie and Rupert 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, something that tasted very much like wasabi, salad, cheese, and liptauer. 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, like English 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 wine. But it was an interesting drink.
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, the places we want to go. We learnt 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. Stefanie and Rupert, our wonderful hosts helped us find another bus stop, where we got onto Tram Number 3, yet another last tram going back to Jakominiplatz and then walked back to our hotel. It was an enjoyable evening eating brettlejause with lovely people who we do hope to see again soon.