By Shanna F. Jones
Austria is abundant in flora and fauna. With all that crispy fresh mountain air and water; the rural areas are some of the most vibrant natural places on earth. Eagles soar overhead while grazing goats and lowing cowbell-wearing cattle animate the landscape. On the ground find comfrey, meadowsweet, milk thistle, alpine rose and the inspiration for the national anthem, edelweiss.
In the alps near Salzburg little mountain huts with geranium window boxes pepper the mountainsides serving coffee and pastries for hikers. These wildly remote homesteads are an adventure in themselves. Many travel to Austria just to experience them, their views and their hearty homecooked Austrian cuisine. However, those on a short city break will be pleased to know that to experience traditional Austrian cuisine and breath-taking vistas one only has to walk or cycle a few minutes from Salzburg city centre.
Salzburg is a town earmarked for its ‘storybook’ qualities. Spindling turrets cluster above narrow streets, a setting for the Brother’s Grimm. Grandiose baroque structures sit regally alongside the Salzach, and the sweet roses of Mirabell gardens are a fitting backdrop for any lovelorn leading character having a pensive moment. From the centre it’s half an hour’s walk or ten minutes cycle ride to Moenchsberg nature park, a small mountain within the city. Perched on the very top is the Stadtalm restaurant and café, which to reach, there is a choice of either hiking up the Moenchsberg or taking the elevator.
The Stadtalm restaurant has panoramic views of Salzburg, the mountains and the Festungsburg. The Disneyesque castle viewable from the table is the Hohensalzburg, which looms like Maleficent’s tower over the city. From the kitchen steam rises from freshly boiled dumplings and the smell of tender juicy pork cooked in thyme circulates the building.
For those who hiked up the hill, a Wierninger wheat beer may well restore your composure, which you’ll need to decide from the sumptuous array of food on offer. The menu consists of Austrian cuisine in its best form. Clear soups, goulash, slow-cooked beef, schnitzel and apple strudel are all their signature dishes. Rest assured, everything comes with dumplings. To fit in with the locals, enjoy a customary shot of Shnapps to end your meal.
The restaurant opening times are a little unpredictable as they change from month to month. The laidback owners even say that if the weather is bad they will take a day off so it’s best to ring ahead to avoid disappointment.