Dear readers. Be advised that when you visit the Mühlviertel travel destination in Upper Austria, there is one thing you definitely should not be: On a diet! Mühlviertel means such a great variety of local producers, top restaurants and traditional inns that you definitely want to (and should) try everything. Choosing from a delicious potpourri of culinary travel ideas, I’ll tell you where you should go, eat and shop beyond the more well-known cities of Linz and Freistadt.
Southern Mühlviertel offers a culinary gem of a kind: The Austrian farm doughnut factory …
… whose baking aromas bewitch us as soon as we enter. Up to 4000 doughnuts a day are formed and baked here by hand! Anyone who believes that doughnuts are limited to jam fillings and carnival time will be taught a delicious lesson here: “Each individual doughnut is personally formed by my husband and our employees before baking, every day, all year round. The recipe for the dough, of course, remains our secret”, says Rosi Lichtenberger, who welcomes us to the family bakery with her daughter Birgit. Their Mühlviertel doughnuts are already known far beyond the borders of the nearby village of Tragwein. Taking a look at the large garden and playground area next to the bakery café makes me want to return with my family: My husband Georg and our little son Liam will certainly enjoy the and sweet and savoury doughnuts just as much.
Close to the Mühlviertel doughnut factory, you may find another place well worth your visit:
Eat and spend the night at “Der Dorfwirt” hotel in Rechberg.
After only fifteen minutes drive from the doughnut factory, we enter the nature park Mühlviertel area, charming us to autumnal hikes or e-bike tours along the enchanting, gently rolling hills of the southern Mühlviertel. Dinner at the hotel’s restaurant is another culinary delight on this journey through the Mühlviertel: six courses are exquisitely complemented by different wines from Upper Austria, including a presentation from the young wine grower Leo Gmeiner. Coming from another Austrian wine region myself, I am naturally curious to learn more about the quality and variety of Upper Austrian viticulture, of which I did not know much before, I have to admit.
Tracing Haute Cuisine in Mühlviertel: Check out Michael Just’s “Elzer Stub’n” restaurant.
I remember visiting Michael not only from a culinary, but also from a family point of view: After all he, too, has a cheerful little toddler flitting through the house! In all likelihood, it must have been the arrival of his daughter “persuading” him to withdraw from the elitist restaurants of Vienna, and back to his Mühlviertel home.
So here we are, between Lasberg and Kefermarkt in the tiny, tiny town of Elz, at the “Elzer Stub’n” restaurant. The old farmhouse has first been converted into a hiker’s hut, then transformed into a gourmet temple – and yet, Michael has succeeded in keeping his feet on the ground. What we are being served is simply divine, yet “earthly and accessible” at the same time. Check this out.
Finally, near the town of Freistadt, check out the Kräuterwirt Dunzinger restaurant, its farm shop, spirits and Austrian mountain herbs.
Chatting with the charming restaurant owners Carolin & Gerhard Schimpl, we are tempted to spend the rest of our time in Mühlviertel sampling their range of fine local products used for cooking. They have also invited their friend and whisky producer Rupert Wiesinger, as well as the managing director of the “Bergkräutergenossenschaft Hirschbach” Stefan Binder to join us for lunch. A clever move, I must say. For their part, the two of them tell us many stories of local gin and whisky production, and of founding the first Austrian marketing club for mountain herbs.
What also catches our eye during the visit is the so-called “Ruck-Zuck-Shop“, a container shop including only locally sourced farmer’s products, such as juices, vegetables, stews, chutneys and more. It is something the family built in order to cater to the need of people for local food shopping, also adhering to the need for social distancing currently governing our times.
Carolin Schimpl goes on to say just “how much people like to come and browse our shop, often in the evening, without having to explain themselves or being observed. When you are finished shopping, you just drop your honest coins in the box, and that’s it. It works”, she proudly explains. Here’s what I buy: Herbal juice from Mühlviertel, “Grandma’s red cabbage stew” and a few more regional products from the Mühlviertel for my loved ones. Over lunch that follows, we dig in to regional, organic, also vegetarian and vegan meals served by Gerald Schimpl, who after a short welcome talk disappears into the kitchen, laughing: “Well, it’s about time I cooked something for you, isn’t it!”
Last but not least, here is photographic proof of the delicious diversity of meals Gerald Schimpl cooked for us that day in Mühlviertel. It’s as if he knew he’d be surrounded by bloggers and photographers. Enjoy !!
My last blog post told you a little more about beer and chocolate tastings in Mühlviertel, as well as portraits of four exceptional organic farmers from Mühlviertel. All of my Mühlviertel travel pictures are shared through this Flickr gallery (don’t look hungry!):
Disclaimer: I have been invited by the Mühlviertler Alm Freistadt travel destination together with Genuss Reisen Österreich. All opinions are my own.