Category Archives: Food

48 Hours in… Grunau

Grunau, Austria; a tiny but incredibly picturesque village hidden away in the Austrian alps, surrounded by mountains, lakes, lakes and mountains. Now that might not be enough to make you want to visit, but perhaps we can persuade you…

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The Accommodation:

IMG_20161029_105423Probably one of the best reasons to visit is the wonderfully Austrian and uniquely Busabout Treehouse. Run by an ex-chef and his family this ramshackle traditional old house really feels like a home. There have many people to the comforts of the bedrooms, the glorious surroundings and the pure sincerity of the welcome they receive from Gerhard and Co.

The dogs run freely through the garden, down to the river and into the neighbouring fields without a worry, and you can too. Those that only stop for lunch (and we’ll come to the food next) often find themselves wandering a little far from house as they follow the river, or meander through the woods.

The Food:

IMG_20161029_112313As mentioned, Gerhard, the owner/manager/dad was a professional chef, so you can imagine the food he cooks up is a little special. But he doesn’t bother with fancy flourishes of parsley or drizzles of balsamic vinegar. He makes good hearty home cooked food, the kind of thing that’ll have you craving mums cooking, then scratch that itch with the first bite. His legendary lasagne is a must-try while everything else on the menu is just a delight. Forget the diet though, he doesn’t mess around when it comes to portions that’s for sure. You’ll end up sitting around the dinner table together, laughing and joking like you’ve all known each other for years.

The Countryside:

IMG_20161029_133730Yes, the mountains, lakes, lakes and mountains of course are a huge part of what makes Grunau so incredible. For your window every morning you’ll have to collect your jaw as you stare out and the awe inspiring Austrian Alps, still snow capped from winter. It’s these behemoths that channel the water down into rapid rivers that and just so instagrammable you’ll be flicking through your photo albums for days. Follow these along though and you’ll get to the epic lakes that are dotted along the valleys. A personal favourite is the Almsee, a nice bike ride along from the Treehouse (yes you can rent them there). This lake spreads out across the valley floor and offers amazing opportunities to spot wildlife, take in the amazing views reflected off the lakes surface, or if you’re the romantic type, woe that special someone in your life. You may fancy a dip, which is highly recommended, it’ll certainly leave you feeling fresh as the water is all glacier-melt (AKA ice!) and not much above freezing temperature. Just take a towel and sunbake yourself dry again. If that doesn’t warm you up, there are numerous hikes, easy and challenging up the sides of the valleys, and for the very adventurous, to the very peaks of some of the nearby mountains.

The Activities:

IMG_20161029_111705If all that wasn’t enough, there’s a few special activities offered by the guys at the Treehouse. After taking the bikes for a spin through the valleys, horse riding is the most popular choice. With treks designed for all abilities, from beginner up to fully competent riders, there’s something for all. Beginners will get a chance to enjoy the natural surroundings from horseback (no need to pedal) while more advanced riders can let loose and feel the wind in their hair as they follow the experienced guides through the various terrains. Finally, if all that isn’t enough to can take a try at archery, heading into a secluded section of the woods to ping some arrows into various targets and trees (please no animals though!)

There’s never been a passenger who stayed in Grunau that didn’t wish they could stay longer, and plenty more who wish they hadn’t skipped it. Don’t make the same mistake and make sure you add Grunau to your Busabout adventure.

Written for the Busabout Blog

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

 

The Best Burger in the World

This might be a bit of a stretch, I certainly haven’t eaten everywhere, not even in every country. I’ve not tried the best burger bars in London, but I have had a lot of burgers in my time.

From McDonalds and Burger King, up through the ranks to some of the highest rated burgers in the World, I’ve tried more than my fair share I’m sure. So here we go:

  • Ferg Burger, Queenstown, New Zealand

This is one of the most hyped up burgers places in the world. From Auckland to Christchurch, no matter how you travel through NZ, people will always talk about how good Ferg Burgers are. It’s an amazing store, with a queue up to an hour long at times, stretching out the door and far down the street. In fact, the shop is so small it’s rare that the queue isn’t out the door. The buns are excellent, cooked next door in their bakery, and the burgers are pumped out damn fast by the slick team of pros behind the counter. A good selection and excellent meat, a little tricky to customise though.

  • Bunsen Burger, Dublin, Ireland

These guys keep it simple, just four options: Burger, cheese burger, double burger or double cheese burger. I think most people chose the last option. It comes with the basic salad inside and it’s a very tasty burger. Simple and well put together, just the right amount of sloppiness while holding together enough to get it into your mouth. It’s juicy and very meaty, riding on the strength of the patty which does it proud.

  • Devil Burger, Queenstown, New Zealand

The second Queenstown entry, and the underdog to the powerhouse that is Ferg Burger, Devil don’t have the same quality of bun and their patties are a little smaller, but what they lack there, they more than make up for in well thought out topping combinations and extras. Burger customisation is much more acceptable here, which means you can have the burger you really want, and not the closest option on the menu. My favourite was the Yankee Devil with extra pineapple and egg. A large patty in a small bun also makes the ratio even better.

  • The Oyster Catcher, Polzeath, UK

Perhaps listing the bar I work in is not the done thing, but the burgers here are really something to make a thing of (I’m trying to get them to pump their reputation) The burgers are handmade on site (sometimes by me) and it’s pure, high quality local beef. The toppings are freshly prepared each day and the buns are… adequate. They’ve got some great menu options, but the fun really comes when you get creative. It’s not cheap to add extras here, but if you’re willing to do so, you can craft some incredible burgers. One bad point – No pineapple.

  • Counter Burger, Dublin, Ireland

By now you’ll have noticed I’m a big fan of customisation, and Counter burger caters for me perfectly. Instead of a list of pre-designed burgers you are given a selection sheet of meats, cheeses, toppings and sauces and a pencil. This is a dream come true for me, as this means I can create those ridiculous and wonderful burgers I’ve dreamt at night. It’s important to think of your theme before you pick any options so each works, otherwise you could end up with mild aioli and jalapeños, which just aren’t going to work together. This restaurant changed is the current home of my favourite burger, having swayed me from my American style, beef, mustard/ketchup based burger. It’s now all about grilled chicken with chilli and pineapple.

I think it’s important to let people have their burgers the way they want them. There’s plenty of trendy new places popping up that offer really nice sounding burgers with cool new toppings and fancy ingredients. But when actually put together lead to a rather naff burger. I’m all for hummous and avocado on a bit of crusty bread or in a wrap, but on top of a slab of minced beef and grilled it just seems wasted. Keep it simple, and let the punters have what they want!