European Street Food Festival

So I would go ahead and classify myself as a weathered traveler of sorts. I have seen many countries and visited even more of their cities. One thing that remains constant (yes you should embed this fine piece of knowledge into your brain) is that, hands down and regardless of where you might be, the absolute tastiest foods you will find on a new adventure will reside in some dainty and somewhat questionable 3-legged stand that is nestled into a tiny nook on the side of the street. I suggest … no I insist, that you go there.

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Now the “truck food” revolution may well have been a thing of the recent past, but it definitely does not change that deep and unforgiving craving for some delicious culinary on wheels. I mean my neighbor[hood] in Dallas was the renowned Knox/Henderson area and, to no surprise, I was what you might reference as a “Gold Card” member over at our friend Jason Boso’s Truck YardThis place is literally the “holy grail” of awesome hangouts forecasting unforgettable times and delicious foods, many of which are carefully constructed in one of the 4 food tucks on premises. It shouldn’t be surprising that, while trekking through the snow on my way to learn some Deutsch (yes it snows in November here my fellow Texans), I noticed a vibrant and kinda funky poster with the bold letters “EUROPEAN STREET FOOD FESTIVAL“. I was all-in from that very moment. What better way to become more cultured and knowledgeable about some traditional, as well as unique, foods from several European cuisines? So Courtney and I saddled up in the “Batwing” and hit the trail …

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Entering the grounds we were welcomed with a variety of unfamiliar but delicious scents. With our senses peaked and stomachs howling, we set off with beer in hand, and began browsing. This process was not necessarily an easy one. With over 40 vendors on sight narrowing down the list took more diligence than we would prefer. Now I should enlighten y’all to the fact that the dearest thing to a Texan, is our beloved “Tex-Mex”, and unfortunately here in Österreich, there isn’t the slightest glimmer of anything related (No, but seriously, I was previously served marinara sauce as salsa. A very unpleasant surprise). After meandering through the event, guided by our keen senses and paired with our deeply rooted hankering for familiar cuisine, we wound up at Gordita. Upon further inspection and a slight hesitation toward excitement, we were shocked to recognize  the familiar characteristics: cilantro, blue-corn tortillas, cotija cheese, mole sauce, and salsa verde. We were stoked! After concluding it was worthy of a go, I quickly struck up a conversation with the cook asking her where she was from … irony had it, Canada! Canada, I thought to myself?! Then decided, what the hell! It is close enough! The dish was carefully crafted and displayed beautifully on a paper plate. The first bite was damn near overwhelming. We were finally able to embrace the ever sweet sensation of flavors that we had thought to become extinct. Needless to say, our tastebuds were overwhelmed in the best way possible.

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Filled with satisfaction and yearning for more, we moved on to the next stop. The next decision was not so difficult. Back home we were frequent customers at a number of Asian establishments, from Thai to Vietnamese, we love it all. Although it is not as foreign as our beloved Tex-Mex, Asian food remains a constant in our diet. The next stop was a familiar item but from a more unique Eastern Asian region, Tibet.There was not a whole lot of complexity with the involved item in this decision. The Tibetan cook offered one item in a couple of variations … dumplings. If you don’t love these things, you’re an idiot. They are literally sent from the Bön Gods and probably explain the other hefty bald man they worship in this area of the world (no-offense Buddha). The best part of the dumpling is usually the sauce, this experience was no different. A perfectly balanced combination of sweet, salty, and spicy. Game on!

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Feeling like we had curbed the wolves of hunger, it was time to embellish into a fine beverage. If any of you know me, you understand that I am kind of a beer nerd. I love the stuff. Living in the heart of beer country, I am constantly on the prowl for something new. Of course there was your standard beer caterer hired for the event by the good people over at Stiegl Braurei, but that is available everywhere here in Austria. Following our way through the maze of food trucks we happened upon a tent reading “Slovenish Essen und Bier” meaning Slovenien Food, you can figure out the rest. I was intrigued and decided to check it out. I ordered us a couple of frosties and paid the man what was owed with an extra tip of 1euro (this is evidently rare). Upon thanking me he asked me to hold on a second. The man pulled out a bottle of clear stuff from underneath the table and set up a shooter and filled it to the brim. He told me it was home made and from his long-time Slovenian family recipe. The “Schnapps” was most definitely a corn spirit with a very high alcohol content. A very pure type of liquor with very little sugar or any other additives; literally awful stuff if you prefer a darker spirit like myself, but behind my humble smile paired with a good ole American Handshake, I disguised my scorn and went about my day as if I had just finished Grandma’s homemade fudge. The beer, on the other hand, was delicious. Union beer is a crisp pale-ale with a mild hop flavor and is a bit lighter than the traditional “märzen” beer here in Austria (Märzen means March; which is the time of year most beer was brewed decades ago to keep from spoiling in the warmer months prior to refrigeration).

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After guzzling a few brews it was back to the reason we were here, food. We decided to go to a stand that had a pretty tasty looking pulled-pork sandwich that was literally roasting on a spit over the fire and pulled off right in front of you. Unfortunately, it was awful. The meat was way too dry and had little to no flavor. We cut our losses and went back to a safer and more familiar continent, Asia … Earlier we had noticed a stand near the Gordita that had quite a few people waiting in line. It must be good right?! We uncovered that it was in-fact Korean fried chicken. Now I do not know much about Korea (other than that prideful prick Dictator in the North) or its’ cuisine. All we knew going into it was that fried chicken is fried chicken and happens to be delicious … decision made. The chicken was cut into small pieces (popcorn size) and battered and deep fried like you would expect. The kicker was the sauce. Offering two separate sauces, spicy or regular, it was a no-brainer. The sauce was topped with a generous amount of chives and was dark red in color; resembling the sweetness and texture of Hoisin Sauce that you normally find in Vietnamese restaurants. It was savory and had a subtle spicy finish. The perfect follow-up to our disastrous pork-belly sandwich.

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We end this post with the way it started. Travel more, live happily, and eat street food!

Prost und Mahlzeit!

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– Colt

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Yovela Coffee Roasters

Now, given our relocation to the heart of Europe, it is probably not surprising that the coffee here is significantly better and held at a higher standard overall. In fact, it is very much a part of everyday life for the greater population. Coffee is considered a “digestive” for a post breakfast, lunch, or evening meal to settle things down, or get ’em started, and is very often insisted on. On the contrary, my father “Chuck” prefers a herbal concoction known as Unicum or any other herbal schnapps that forces you to cringe, but he is an old cowboy and insists it is merely medicine. Everywhere you go here in Austria you can find a satisfying cup of Jo. What you do not know, is that “craft” coffee is as foreign as us Americans. Readily available are the 3-4 different companies that dominate the mainstream of coffees and coffee choices served within local pubs and restaurants. Now don’t get me wrong, this coffee is very drinkable and is equivalent to your beloved Starbucks as far as quality and flavor. What you might not know, lurking nearby, is the absolutely most innovative local coffee shop that is breaking away from the norm and offering more, and quite a bit more I might add.

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Now you might be thinking, more of what? Great question! At Yovela Coffee Roasters (literally meaning “full of joy”) resides the mastermind Johannes. Johannes (aka “Josh”) and Elisabeth, have begun the bold revolution toward breaking away from the norm and offering a plethora of crafted coffee beginning in 2012. Living in Dallas/Fort Worth, I was delightfully exposed to a number of fantastic craft coffee shops and frequented many of them including: Mudsmith, Ascension, Brewed, and my friend Kevin Sprague over at Noble Coyote (best cold-brew I’ve ever had). Yovela Coffee Roasters meets those standards. The coffee is imported from several regions across the globe and each unique flavor is roasted accordingly within the confines of the cafe. Yes, I said it. The coffee is roasted every week on the spot in-house and is done so very professionally via the vast knowledge of the Doc (yes, he has his Ph.D.) and is a disciple of the coffee Gods .

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What to Expect:

  • A Perfect Atmosphere

– The place is quaint, but perfect and smells like a coffee shop should.

  • Great Brew

– Josh is amazing at what he does. The menu offers an array of drinks to appeal to all audiences and I can guarantee that each cup is made with passion.

  • Variety

– Yovela offers beans from Yemen and Brazil, as well as Ethiopia and others in the near future. Now of course you can have your classic Cappuccino or Latte, but there is much more for those who appreciate the bolder things in life like their Doppio (which will make you want to inject it straight into your bloodstream it’s so good) or the classic Americano to give you a delicious kick in the rear for your work day.

  • A More Than Fair Price

– I mean … 4 coffees later and I barely broke 10 Euros y’all!

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The shop is located through the “Stadtplatz” across the bridge, and up the street from the Michaelerkirche.

Kirchengasse 1 – “Messererhaus”
A-4400 Steyr

Go there!!!

-Colt

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Schieferstein

Or more comically known as, Courtney’s worst nightmare…

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That’s a bit exaggerative and to be quite honest it was one of the most amazing experiences I have tackled to date. Facing a fear (an unrealized fear at that) and coming out on the other side is an absolutely indescribable feeling. I’ve never been afraid of heights, nor have I honestly been afraid of anything physical. But starting my ascension up this mountain brought out a panic I have never before experienced. I was scared, legs shaking scared, like full-on panic attack scared.

– Courtney

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According to Merriam-Webster, to hike is to walk a long distance especially for pleasure or exercise. This was only partially accurate in this instance. Walk a long distance? Sure. For pleasure? Yeah, I had the preconceived notion it would be. For exercise? Without a doubt. What it does not mention, or maybe it is hidden somewhere in the fine print, is that hiking may/can cause anxiety to surface as your path narrows and grows steeper, it did exactly that.

At the base of the mountain the scenery is serene (pictured above on the right) and appears to come straight out of a scene from the renowned film The Sound of Music. Also at the base of the mountain is a small sign distinguishing the different routes up the mountain. I chose the only familiar one, the one which estimates your time of ascension to the peak to be somewhere around 2hrs and 40min. I looked down at my watch and thought “Perfect! It is only 11:30. We have plenty of time to reach the top, have our lunch we packed that morning paired with a normal celebratory beer and soak up some of the sun and scenery before descending.” Wrong, wrong, wrong …

The beginning was easy. Picture a beautiful open and wooded forest with a trail large enough for a couple of bikes to maneuver about freely. This was okay for Courtney. After about 20 minutes of “hiking” the path begins to narrow and the trail begins to head a little more, well, up. This is when I began to create a little bit of distance between Courtney and I. I would continue up the trail at a steady rate thinking Courtney would stay close on my heels. After about 45 minutes the anxiety within Courtney began to rise. I was noticing that, as we climbed, so did her anxiety. The inner coach in me kicked in and I went into Coach “K” role encouraging Courtney to continue while offering incentives like a water break at the next ridge. This worked quite well. After stopping to catch our breath and have a banana Courtney decided to inform me that she had never been on a mountain. It was also at this point that she informed me that she was not sure she could make it much further. She was physically exhausted and growing more terrified regarding the terrain. I must credit her here. I mean, this is a Mountain. A very unforgiving mountain at times (it has claimed a few unfortunate lives) and she was willing to make it this far to the half way point. After much discussion, and some more words of encouragement, we decided to push her limits a little bit further and see how far we could go.

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This is where things began to change a little bit from hiking, to full on climbing. I mean there are literally steel rods pegged up a 10-15 ft rock face. I’m talking, if you fall here, you are more than likely going to end up with some broken bones and severe cuts due to the rocky environment. Courtney was petrified. At times I would go up first to show her where to put her hands and feet and then come back down so that she could go in front, enabling me to make sure she was putting her hands and feet in those same secure places. I could see it in her face that she was scared, very scared, but that she was also determined. Once the climbing began to level out back into a hike, the path became a little bit more narrow. There was very little room for error without consequence. Again leading by example and marking what step is safe and what is not, we marched on for another 2 hrs, it is now nearing 4 o’clock. Our pace was slow but secure. With absolute concentration and will power we arrived at the base of the last summit. We could see the end! Victory was another 15 minutes hike to the cross which marked the peak. I turned to Courtney and relished in the fact that we had made it this far, but she was done. She begged for this to be the end. It was enough for her trembling body and mind.

There are moments in your life when you will reach this point. Where enough can be enough. Where one’s mind begins to question the difference between adventure and madness. This is the point where people change. They push aside the “what if”. They clear their mind and challenge their soul. They overcome and conquer. With her hand in mine, we marched on …

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Needless to say, we took our time coming down the mountain and safely arrived back to our car. The sun was down, and we were spent.

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– Colt

To see more pictures from Colt’s previous trips to Schieferstein visit our Facebook page:

Schieferstein Elev. 3,957 ft

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