From Zürich, we took a train through the Alps to Innsbruck. It was a most relaxing 3.5 hours of this:
Innsbruck is an adorable city with its cozy old town centre and its location next to the unexpectedly fast flowing Inn River and surrounded by gorgeous mountains. I had a grand time in Innsbruck, as did our friend Victor who came along for the holiday, but I think Blai had a few stressful moments as this was a working holiday for him. We were mainly there for a music festival and with rehearsals and concerts every evening, I had to rejigger our eating schedule. Every day in Innsbruck, we started with a decent enough continental breakfast at our hotel, a large late lunch, a snack if required and finally, a late night visit to a wurst stand in the centre of town. Gotta keep us fed. As you’ll see below, we did pretty well!
No photos of the breakfast as I’m barely functioning in the morning but of particular note was the fresh crusty buns served up by our hotel. Actually, all the bread we tried in Innsbruck was very good, even those served by the ubiquitous Tyrolean chain, Der Bäcker Ruetz. This was a Snackbreze, a delicious pretzel topped with ham and cheese.
We had two nice lunches in Innsbruck and one average one in nearby Schwaz (I’ll leave that last one out) – prices were certainly more affordable than in Zürich, with our lunches costing about €20 a head. Our first lunch after exploring the city was at Weisses Rössl, a hotel restaurant with a good selection of Tyrolean specialties.
We started with their hauspfandl (the dish of the house), which was pork fillet cooked with garlic, caraway and brandy served with green beans with bacon and spätzle. This was some kind of trick plate or something – there was a lot more food in that dish than I expected.
A traditional Alpine dish of Tiroler Gröstl was as you’d expect of an Alpine dish: a chopped beef and potato hash topped with a fried egg. Seriously filling grub for a serious day out in the mountains.
A cabbage and bacon salad came on the side. Gosh and golly, this was possibly the tastiest cabbage salad I’ve ever had (step aside, coleslaw) – love that combo of fried bacon and caraway seeds.
The next day, after a visit to Schloss Ambras, we descended back down into Innsbruck and had lunch at Cafe Central, one of the city’s Viennese style coffee houses. Having missed Wiener schnitzel, we proceeded to order their butter fried version; it was delicious and well fried but just a little too thick.
For everyone who exclaimed about our lack of vegetables on our Vienna trip, look! Salads!
We also shared a rindergulasch with polenta. While I enjoyed the combination of polenta with the stew, the gulasch was too salty to eat by itself.
And we couldn’t leave a Viennese-style kaffeehaus without having cakes. They perhaps didn’t live up to the heady heights of those we tried in Vienna (especially the whipped cream) but were still delicious; my favourite was the strawberry cake with its layers of strawberries in jelly, custard, cream and sponge cake.
At night, our Würstelstand of choice was the one underneath the Golden Roof (see the third photo in this post) – this makes it seem like we were discerning but really, there were only two to choose from and this one was on the way back to our hotel. On average, it was about €3 per sausage or pair of sausages and one each was plenty to fill or empty tummies. Our default order was the Kasekrainer hot dog, a long cheesy sausage tucked into a baguette (it tastes better than it sounds) – not sure why I didn’t end up with a photo of it.
I did end up with a photo of our chilli currywurst – a sliced wurst slathered in ketchup and dusted with copious amounts of curry powder and dried chilli flakes. And with this currywurst, I fall utterly in love with it (my previous experience was with a nasty version involving a curry sauce in Munich)…and the chilli flakes! Inspired.
Also, these St. Johanner würste, long smoked pork sausages, are typical of the Tirol region and apparently one is supposed to eat them with mustard and horseradish…. so I failed. Delicious even without horseradish though!
I’ve got to mention Handl Tyrol too, a Tyrolean chain of smoked and airdried meat products. We’d snacked on quite a few of their salami products and I bought a few things to take home too. They’re very conveniently located in the Old Town as well as in the train station.
I’m still in the middle of uploading our photos but all my photos from Zurich and Innsbruck are being placed in this Flickr photoset. I’m also trying to convince Blai that he’d like to return to the Alps in the winter… (ack, just remembered how our first Vienna trip was cancelled!)
Gasthof Weisses Rössl