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The Zillertal: Austria's culinary heart

20th June 2013 Print
The Zillertal

The Zillertal region is well-known for its organic cuisine and award-winning dairy products. This deep valley's warm summers and lush pastures give rise to hundreds of indigenous herbs, fabulous local speciality dishes and some of the best restaurants in the Alps. And the scenery's pretty good too.

It is all about "organic"

The buzz this year seems to revolve around "organic / healthy food". People want to know where their food comes from and what's in it. Recent findings in the food industry have resulted in people starting to buy their food in local shops and from organic farmers again. The advantages of organic produce speak for themselves. Consumers can enjoy healthier and tastier meals; farmers improve their business and earnings, not to mention seed varieties and forgotten breeds of animals that are restored. Monocultures make room for a colourful and lively diversity.

What better place to find this than in the Zillertal, one of Austria's culinary hotspots. Zillertal's local ingredients - cheeses, hams, roasted meats, eggs, breads and all those herbs - are famous in Austria; every type of cuisine from the rustic to the gastronomic is on offer here. The cheese itself is something of a work of art, being rich and viscous with a grey core, but with a low fat content of less than 0.5%. The taste is distinctive and quite addictive: it's dry, with bracing freshness and a hint of mountain herbs. The very low fat content makes it both healthy and moreish, and creating it is a specialised art, limited only to officially-certified producers.

Definitely worth trying is the Zillertal Haymilk produce. Haymilk sounds new and innovative, but years ago it was standard practice that farmers fed their cattle with grass and hay from the meadows and produced cheese and yoghurt from the milk. The products made from haymilk are of the highest quality, are extremely healthy and, above all, taste delicious. What's more, the milk contains 20 % more vitamins and 3 times more Omega-3-fatty acids than normal milk, which has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.

Culinary highlights on the mountain and in the valley

There is no better way to hike up an appetite than exploring the 1,000 km of hiking paths and taking a break in one of over 150 huts along the way, each of them worth a stop, whether to sample the local beer or one of the region's famous organic dishes. One of these huts is the Berliner Hütte, not just the area's oldest mountain refuge, but also the only listed mountain hut in Austria.

After a day in the mountains, whether by bike or on foot, it's time to enjoy the culinary highlights in the valley where the traditional gastronomy of the Zillertal is being given a contemporary twist, evolving into new creations of modern, light cuisine. A wonderful meal at one of the many award-winning restaurants in the valley is the perfect way to wrap up an action-packed day. Why not visit the Landgasthof Linde, awarded with two Gault-Millau "hats" and a 15-point rating. The creative adaptation of classic Tyrolean recipes pampers the palate of connoisseurs as well as traditional pub food fans. Select products from the in-house vegetable garden and region ensure the outstanding quality of the dishes. Other fine restaurants similarly place great value on top organic quality and maximum product freshness. Restaurant Sieghard in Hippach, or the Restaurant Metzgerwirt in Uderns are drawing much visitor attention for their creative menus and dedication to their craft.

New: Culinary E-Biking in Zillertal

This summer Zillertal is offering a new highlight for all leisure cyclists, nature lovers and connoisseurs: a culinary e-mountain bike tour. E-mountain bikes provide an alternative and sustainable way of reaching the mountain summit. Even non-experienced bikers can now enjoy the biking paradise of the Zillertaler Alps including a climb up to the Hintertux Glacier's permanent ice. Whether you choose a day tour or a tour with an overnight stay in a mountain hut - there are plenty of options available.

Tour suggestion:

Start your tour on the Platzlalm at 1.790 m above sea level where you are kitted out with a Centurion e-mountain bike. After a short introduction and a hearty power breakfast it is time to get on your bike. The tour leads you up to the Kristallhütte or the Wedelhütte, where lunch is already waiting for you. Both huts do not just offer fantastic views of the Zillertaler Alps, but are also well known for their "high" cuisine. Too soon it is time to get back on the bike, but the next stop is not far away. What better way to end this biking experience than with a gourmet dinner under the stars and a night in one of the suites at a mountain hut.

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The Zillertal The Zillertal