The one thing I learned today is that the Southern Styria and the South-Eastern Styria are quite different. The Southern Styria, sometimes called the Styrian Tuscany, is an area of gently rolling hills cultivated with vineyards, where every hill is a home to at least one winery or a restaurant. On a warm autumn day, it’s full of hikers and wine-lovers, and it’s absolutely possible to enjoy a glass of wine or a Brettljause as early as at 10 p.m.
The South-Eastern Styria’s rolling hills are so gentle that they are often no hills at all. There are vineyards, true, as well as farms, but when it comes to people, the location reminds me of a zombie movie. Just without the zombies. Most of the people I saw passed me in their cars and tractors. And the earliest time you can expect a Heuriger to open is at 15:00. It’s a farmland, unknown to tourists and more similar, in my opinion, to the Southern Burgenland than to the Southern Styria.
They have a totally Styrian Brettljause, however, with all the praise that comes with that. The one of Waldstüberl Lamprecht was as authentic as a Brettljause could be and also enormous. One could study pig’s anatomy by looking at it, since all the things one could do with pork (apart from spare ribs) were included as thick slices.
Be warned, it is not a Jause for the faint-hearted, and I would not be honest if I said I loved all of it. The Geselchtes, the Karree (pork rib) and the Grammelschmalz were outstanding, though the Schmaltz would have been even better had it been served colder. Both types of Speck were OK, but one suffered from being thickly cut (a common problem I know from the South Tyrolean Marenden), while the darker and tougher type was not salty or tasty enough for me. The same problem affected the Schweinsbraten: the meat was good but too plain and lacking salt. The liver spread was not too “livery,” but as it’s something I generally dislike, finishing it was hard work. I had to spend quite a lot of bread (freshly baked but, again, lacking flavor), horseradish and salted cucumbers to finally get rid of it.
And finally there was a pork jelly. If you are looking at the photo above and wondering what a piece of plastic is doing on the Brettl, it’s the jelly. It really contains 50% jelly and 50% pork, and what parts of pork these are, is a question better left unanswered. I could not make myself finish it, but I ate quite a lot and am still not sure whether to feel proud or stupid.
Now that the memories of what I ate are still fresh, I am also not sure whether to recommend the Waldstüberl or not. All the parameters considered, the Jause is seriously good and may even become the Jause of the year if I don’t stumble upon something exceptional in the remaining two months. On the other hand, it’s a hardcore thing, and spending three hours in a train and another hour walking may not justify the end result for some people. Tell you what, if you decide to go to the South-Eastern Styria anyway, pass by the Waldstüberl; I think it’s one of the better places there, and the owners are very friendly. Then order a thinly-cut Brettljause rather than what I took. And, if you still hungry, ask for some home-made cheese with pumpkin oil. I wish I have done the same.