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Food Wine Beer

When the topic of food, wine, and beer in Eastern Europe is discussed, the things that come to mind are Goulash, pork, sausage, sauerkraut, bread, dumplings, pastries, wine, and beer.  We visited the geographic area along the Danube River from Budapest Hungary to Vilshofen, Germany, and on to Prague in the Czech Republic.  The food consumed by locals is greatly influenced by the cuisine of Western, Northern, and Southern Europe.  Pancakes, breads, berries, and meat as well as cold and hot soup are staples in the diet.  In Hungary the first settlers were the nomadic Magyars arriving about 800 AD and made Goulash the national dish of Hungary.  As we journeyed into Slovakia, Austria, Germany and even in the Czech Republic we found diets to be strongly influenced by sauerkraut, dumplings, pork, and bread.  Herbs and spices like paprika are used in the cuisine to enhance flavor.  With increased tourism comes the need for culinary advancement, making way for a number of up and coming chefs.  Eastern Europe has a wine history that spans 5000 years.  The introduction of the wine grape (Vitis Vinifera) has made way to the production of countless world class wines.  Each area along the Danube River has its own varietals that are used to produce the local wines of the region.  In Hungary and Slovakia winemaking suffered terribly under communism.  The Juznoslovenska wine region has attracted many boutique wineries which are the forefront of the Hungary, Slovakian wine scene.  As you move into Southern Austria, Wachau is the most established and notable wine region specializing in white wines made from the Riesling and Gruner Veltliner varietal.  There are four wine regions in Austria.  Many of the best wine producers do not export their product due to low production and huge local consumption.  The white wines are consumed young and do not require long aging periods or oak barreling.  Austria has over 118,000 acres of cultivated vineyards, 32,000 registered winemakers, and 6,500 estates that bottle on-site.  Austria’s wine industry focuses on quality more than sheer quantity.  We thought the wines of Slovakia and Austria were heaven to drink.  As you travel north on the Danube River you move into Northern Austria, Bavaria (Germany), and the Czech Republic.  There you will drink some of the most wonderful beer on the planet.  Eastern European beer is made with centuries of tradition.  The pedigree of Czech beer has the leg up on the other regions.  Pilsner is king and the quality and complexity is not something we experience here in the Americas.  It is a fact that there are many outstanding microbreweries in the U.S. that produce outstanding product.  What is lacking is the time aged processes that were established centuries ago.  In Pilsen in the Czech Republic beer began to be brewed in 1295 AD.  When the golden liquid passes your lips you taste the knowledge of production, the quality of the ingredients and the love that is put into the beer over the past eight centuries.