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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Gourmet Travel Tips in Styria: Gourmet Hotel Stainzerhof & the Black Gold of Styria!

“At first glance, I am tempted to say that I prefer the landscape of Southern Styria and the Styrian Volcano country to this one here”, I hear my travelling friend Katja say next to me in the car. The Styrian Schilcherland in the southwest of the city of Graz is indeed somewhat flatter than the steep vineyards of Southern Styria, or the powerful and highly visible rock collection of the Styrian Riegersburg. And yet, the region southwest of Graz should not be underestimated. After all, we have to admit that we have arrived here totally spoilt. For the past three days, Monika, Petar, Katja and I have done nothing else but listening to the amazing and inspiring stories of the Styrian people, who have served us good wine, cheese, ham or chocolate all the way through. Madness! Some five pounds of weight gain later, and brimming with the stories of Styria, we finally arrive to “wind down from all our adventures” in the West Styrian town of Stainz.

 

“Enjoy your time and take some rest. I look forward to seeing you later over dinner”, Peter Steinwidder, of Hotel Stainzerhof, smiles at us and understands. His job: Hosting people, naturally and “from the heart”!

Das Hotel Stainzerhof befindet sich mitten im Ortskern von Stainz und erstrahlt seit 2011 in völlig neuem Design. Hier begrüßt uns Gastgeber Peter Steinwidder auf der grünen Terrassen-Oase direkt hinter dem Haus.

Hotel Stainzerhof is located in the town centre of Stainz and has been completely redeveloped in 2011. Here, our host Peter Steinwidder welcomes us to the sun-flooded terrace at the back of the building.

Auch das Wirtshaus der rund 2.500 Einwohner zählenden Stadtgemeinde Stainz präsentiert sich hier als Teil des Hotels in modernem und einladendem Look.

Even the “traditional inn” has seen a modern makeover and welcomes a refreshing mix of local people of this small town of about 2.500 inhabitants. We enjoy the atmosphere of the house.

Stainzerhof "undercover": Auf den Spuren der hervorragenden Küche des Hauses, dürfen wir direkt hinter die Kulissen und mitten in die Küche spazieren, um dem Küchenchef zu seinen hervorragenden Kreationen wie der Gemüse-Creme-Brulee zu gratulieren.!

Stainzerhof hotel “undercover”: Here, we trace the culinary secrets that make a stay here so special, such as having been served “veggie crème brûlée”, a speciality of the house and something I have never tasted before! You should definitely try that one day.

Katja findet's toll und stimmt sich wie wir an der Bar auf einen herrlich gemütlichen Abend ein ...

Katja loves it here, and enjoys having a break at the bar before dinner …

... bald schon wartet das Restaurant mit Köstlichkeiten wie dieser leichten Vorspeise mit frischem Salat und Spargel auf ...

… soon, the awarded Restaurant Hotel Stainzerhof spoils us to light summerly dishes, such as this starter featuring seasonal vegetables including fresh asparagus …

... Kalbfleisch & Möhrchen als Hauptgericht ...

… veal & carrots is for the main course …

... sowie zu jedem Gang die passende Weinbegleitung: Nach drei langen Verkostungstagen sind wir jedoch nicht mehr so trinkfest und fotografieren die großartigen Weine lieber, als sie allesamt auszutrinken. "It's a hard life!" :D

… and each and every course is served including suitable wines from the area. After more than three days of gourmet travelling & tasting, however, we take more photographs of our wines and dishes than actually drinking and eating them. “It’s a hard life!” 😀

Last but not least hat aber der darauffolgende Morgen diesen gesunden Anblick entgegen zu setzen: Knackfrische Gemüse-Variété beim Frühstück im Stainzerhof.

Last but not least, the following morning has this fresh surprise for us during breakfast: Beautiful display of freshly cut vegetables for dipping into the home-made sauces. Yum!

 

Gernot Becwar and the oil mill Herbersdorf: A true love triangle. Award-winning pumpkin seed oil & racy Schilcher wine match up here in a pretty liaison, Gernot Becwar included.

He is quite a cheeky character, Mr Becwar. Very eloquent, clever and observant, too. He just loves to tell jokes. Most of all in the absence of his wife, who as it turns out skilfully knows how to “match him in battle”, though.! About pumpkin seeds as well as the famous Blue Wildbacher Rosé, commonly called “Schilcher wine“, Gernot Becwar really does know a great deal. “Schilcher comes from the Styrian dialect expression ‘schüllan’, meaning to shimmer, because the wine has this particular colour of the grapes of the Blue Wildbacher Rosé variety.” Interesting! In fact, I previously only knew the popular term “Schilcher”, but have never heard of the very grape variety itself, this wine with its unusual bright red color and its high proportion of acid and sugar levels.

For 42 years, Gernot Becwar has served as the local mayor, casually telling me this at the end of our visit to “his oil mill”. “We have been integrating the oil mill into our operation, at times when the workers were afraid of losing their jobs and the workshop. Back then, they told me, Gernot, you have to do something, otherwise we will all become unemployed here. And within a very short time, we have taken over everything and rebuilt it here on the farm premises.” Even today, you can notice a sense of pride in Gernot Becwar, talking about this past step requiring courage and foresight. And all the more talking about his award-winning and truly excellent pumpkin seed oil. Those of you, who like us opt for a tasting in the Western Styrian oil mill Herbersdorf, will soon notice: Pumpkin seed oil is not the same as pumpkin seed oil! The nutty flavour of this creamy and incredibly healthy oil pressed from Styrian pumpkin seeds (0% cholesterol, 60 % oil content in each core!) dipped and served in white bread, is just heavenly. “Mmmmh!”, is the only sound we are able to produce when we look at each other with pleasant surprise, tasting and chewing. Gernot Becwar continues to speak about modern pumpkin seed oil processing, the work on the field, the production of the “Black Gold of Styria”, then as now, the harvest and production of the Schilcher wine, eponymous for the entire region in which we find ourselves: the Western Styrian Schilcherland. He even offers us to taste his own Schilcher wine in his private wine cellar, while his wife prepares some delicious scrambled eggs cooked in pumpkin seed oil and served right out of the pan. Again, we are here to try (more) food – what else is there to do in delightful Styria? : D It really is a …

Gourmet Travel Trip in Styria through & through!

Ankommen in der Ölmühle Herbersdorf entlang der "Ölspur", einer alten Zuglinie die für Besucher betrieben wird und direkt eine Haltestelle in Herbersdorf besitzt.

Arriving via an old steam train at the Oil Mill in Herbersdorf is quite a nostalgic, indeed romantic experience.!

Hier empfangen uns schon zur Begrüßung auf den laufenden "Schmäh" deutend, diese heiteren Reisegesellen ...

Part of the humour of the local owners, is meeting those two upon entering the oil mill “Ölmühle Herbersdorf” in Western Styria …

... sowie Gernot Becwar höchstpersönlich: Bereits zur Begrüßung schütte(l)t er uns gleich nach der Hand, sein ausgezeichnetes Kürbiskernöl in eine Schale zur Verkostung.

… and here he is, finally: Meet the “one and only” Gernot Becwar, who only minutes after shaking our hands and welcoming us to his pumpkin seed oil mill, likes to pour his awarded oil for us to taste. It does taste heavenly, I can assure you!

Auch Kürbiskerne pur gibt es hier zum Knabbern. Sehr, sehr lecker - und als gesunder Snack für zwischendurch absolut empfehlenswert.

Nibbling pumpkin seeds is actually very healthy, one of the healthiest snacks there is thanks to the high nutritional value of pumpkin seeds. They are also good for men, especially!

Gernot Becwar, vom Feuer der Leidenschaft über die Verarbeitung des "schwarzen Goldes der Steiermark" ergriffen, erzählt uns die Geschichte & Zusammenhänge der steirischen Kürbiskernölproduktion auf höchst interessante Art und Weise, spricht er doch aus mehreren Jahrzehnten an Erfahrung.

Gernot Becwar, driven by his passion for the “Black Gold of Styria”, loves to talk to us about all things pumpkin seed oil production, farming, current issues in production and distribution, world markets and more. If you, like him, have several decades of experience to show (!), it is certainly very interesting to listen.

Zu guter Letzt sind wir in seinem Hauskeller eingeladen, Platz zu nehmen, Schilcher-Wein (direkt vor der Nase) zu verkosten sowie hausgemachte Eierspeis' mit nochmal hausgemachtem Kürbiskernöl zu verkosten. Herz für die Region, was willst Du mehr?

Last but not least, we are invited to his private wine cellar here, where he offers us to taste the area’s famous “Schilcher wine” while his wife prepares scrambled eggs bathed in pumpkin seed oil in the background. Lovely to be here in culinary Styria!

Wir Reiseblogger sagen Dankeschön & Auf Wiedersehen: Mit diesem Zug geht's zurück zum Hotel Restaurant Stainzerhof. Ein großartiges Genuss-Erlebnis hier im weststeirischen Schilcherland!

The travel bloggers say Goodbye to Gernot Becwar! From here, it is about twenty minutes on this nostalgic steam train to ride back to Stainz and our Hotel Restaurant Stainzerhof. What a lovely day we have had out here!

 

Fancy even more “virtual & visual” impressions of the Styrian Volcano district, the wine district of Southern Styria or the Schilcherland wine district in Western Styria? My Flickr Photo Gallery takes you with me on a journey … :

 

Disclaimer: We have been invited by Hotel Restaurant Stainzerhof in order to travel in Western Styria. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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