If you enjoy hearty meals and sweet dishes, you will love Carinthian food. Due to its sunny location and strong agricultural tradition, Carinthian cuisine is known for its fresh ingredients and quality. Just visit one of the farmer’s markets in Villach or hike to one of the region’s many Alpine huts to experience the flavors of Carinthia.
Due to its location in central Europe and more than six centuries of the Habsburg Empire, Austrian cuisine has many regional influences. Flavors and cooking methods from Hungary, Germany, Italy, Bohemia and the Balkans can all be found in Austrian dishes. While many people associate Austrian cuisine with Viennese cuisine, there are many amazing foods from other Austrian regions including Carinthia.
Carinthian food is influenced by the eating cultures of Slovenia and the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. It seems as though good food knows no borders! Warm noodles stuffed with cheese, cinnamon cakes, and plenty of fresh fish from its many lakes makes Carinthian cuisine a must try.
One of the most famous dishes from Carinthia is Kasnudeln. Kasnudeln are pasta pockets stuffed with a mixture of cheese curds, herbs, and potatoes. This pasta dish is popular all year long and can be found at most restaurants in Carinthia. There are several variations on Kasnudeln including pasta filled with chanterelle mushrooms, seasoned meat, and spinach, but I like the cheese filling best. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Another popular treat from Carinthia is Reindling cake. Reindling is a dry yeast cake that is filled with raisins, cinnamon, and nuts. This tasty cake is versatile and can be served as a sweet or savory side dish. Top it with butter and jam for a nice treat or eat it with ham and grated horseradish for a hearty snack. While it can be found at bakeries all year long, Reindling is a key part of dishes served during Easter and Kirchtag celebrations.
Villacher Kirchtag is one of the highlights of the year and Kirchtagssuppe is the signature soup of this holiday week. Kirchtagssuppe is a unique soup that is known for its bright yellow color and sour flavor. It is made from different kinds of boiled meats and spiced with the exotic flavors of fennel, saffron, and anise. Kirchtagssuppe is typically served with a slice of Reindling making it a true Carinthian dish.
Enjoy the full flavor of the Carinthian region with Brettljause. Brettljause is a plate of cold cut meats accompanied by local cheeses, pickles, and spreads produced by Carinthian farmers. While it may sound like a simple cheese plate, it really is so much more. With Brettljause you can expect to find specialties such as Glundner cheese, liptauer spread, hauswürstel sausages, and more. It is one of my favorite things to enjoy after a hike.
If you are shopping in Carinthia, look out for the “Genuss Region Kärnten” label that certifies that you are buying high-quality regional products. Carinthia has amazing farms with lots of fresh, local food. Try Gailtaler Speck which is a bacon that is famous for its smoky flavor and rich color. Looking for a nice beverage to impress your guests? Serve Lavanttaler Apfelwein which is made from heritage apples that are the pride of the Lavanttal valley. Carinthia is also well known for its excellent meat such as Nockberge cattle, wild game from the Metnitztaler preserve, and lamb from Mölltal.
Chelsea Navarro is an American expat from California, USA.
She has lived in Villach with her partner and dog since February, 2016. She enjoys exploring the Austrian wilderness, drinking Villacher beer and traveling around Europe.