The Gailtal and Lesachtal Valleys in the west of Carinthia, Austria’s southernmost region, are the world’s first slow food travel destination. A cooperation between Slow Food International and Carinthia is to begin in the spring of 2016.
It is a journey into the valleys, to their people and their cuisine. A journey to the traditional food producers, their traditional knowledge and their ancient craft. Visitors are invited to bake bread, make cheese, brew beer, see the production of the famous Gailtal Speck (bacon), and see how beekeeping works.
Carinthia Slow Food Travel means active participation, the transfer of knowledge, and good, clean and fair products from local farms. A bridge is being built between the guest and the region and an awareness for things worthy of preservation is fostered through cooking courses, behind-the-scenes tours and cooperation between the food and drink producers. “This initiative is about a longing for the original. With our abundant offering of artisanal food in the Gailtal and Lesachtal Valleys, we can satisfy our guests in many ways. We are tremendously happy that this region is the first slow food travel destination in the world”, says Christian Kresse, CEO of Kärnten Werbung Marketing & Innovationsmanagement GmbH. The ‘Carinthia Slow Food Travel’ pilot project is a cooperation between Slow Food International and Carinthia and is bookable via NLW Tourismus Marketing.
With the Carinthia Slow Food Travel pilot project, Carinthia and Slow Food International are creating the basis for a travel concept which is being planned worldwide. The criteria for slow food travel are also being summarised in a handbook so that they can be internationally viable for all regions. Sustainable tourism products and services and involving travellers in food production should ensure a lasting added value for the destination.
Slow Food Travel Breakfast. Hotels, guest houses and boarding houses are happy to accept and partake in the cooperation. One example here is the ‘Slow Food Travel Breakfast’, which was developed by Barbara van Melle, the director of Slow Food Vienna and coordinator of the international project. Slow Food travellers can enjoy regional cheese, ham, organic eggs and herbal teas, sourdough bread and handmade rolls, farm-fresh butter and local jams at breakfast. If the lodging establishment in question allows it, the Slow Food Travel Breakfast will be served at the table.
Outlook for the Slow Food Travel programme
- Speck (bacon) seminars in the hotel restaurant of the Biedermeierschlössl Lerchenhof in Hermagor. It has its own farmyard butchery and smoking facility, where it demonstrates how Speck is made according to the age-old traditions.
- The mill hiking path and bread baking course in the Lesachtal Valley Lesachtal Valley bread-making has been selected as an ‘intangible cultural heritage’ by UNESCO. Cereals are currently being cultivated in six grain fields and ground in five mills; the famous Lesachtal Valley bread is baked in the bread bakeries of the mountain farms.
- White land maize
Behind-the-scenes tours, tastings and cooking courses at Würmlach. The ‘white land maize’ of the Gailtal Valley is an old variety of maize that is high-quality, GMO-free and especially suitable for making into polenta and other dishes. Sepp Brandstätter cultivates it on a large scale and offers behind-the-scenes tours and tastings at his farm. Cooking workshops with land maize are available in Slow Food restaurants by toque-awarded chef Sissy Sonnleitner in Mauthen and by Gudrun and Ingeborg Daberer in the Gasthof Grünwald in St. Daniel.
- Insight into cheese production and tasting in the mountain farming village of the Zankl family in Stollwitz, Dellach in the Gailtal Valley. Here, organic pasture milk from the farm’s cows is processed by hand into raw-milk cheese specialities.
- Behind-the-scenes tours of Zwischenbrugger beekeeping in Dellach and tastings for Gailtal Valley honey, forest honey and honey liqueur. For four years, Herbert Zwischenbrugger has partaken in his hobby together with his wife, Marlies. All in all, 42 keepers with around 20 million bees produce about 1,500 kilograms of honey.
Christian Kresse is happy about the enthusiasm and support of the partners. “Slow Food is one of the biggest trends of the future. With the Slow Food Travel Destination, we are responding to the demands of the market in keeping with the times. Thanks to the support of our partners, our guests aren’t just able to eat great regional food thanks to Slow Food offering, they can also experience the creation of the food for themselves with all of their senses”. “The region has great potential, a variety of producers, excellent guest houses and a great offering of informal accommodation. With Carinthia Slow Food Travel, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our extensive expertise in both our cuisine and our regional diversity”, says Christopher Gruber, CEO of the Region Nassfeld, Lesachtal and Weißensee Tourism Marketing Association.
Slow Food. “In the name of productivity, the ‘fast life’ has changed our lifestyle and now threatens our environment and our land (and city) scapes. Slow Food is the alternative, the avant-garde’s riposte. Real culture is here to be found. First of all, we can begin by cultivating taste, rather than impoverishing it, by stimulating progress, by encouraging international exchange programs, by endorsing worthwhile projects, by advocating historical food culture and by defending long-standing food traditions. Slow Food assures us of a better quality lifestyle. With a snail purposely chosen as its patron and symbol, it is an idea and a way of life that needs much sure but steady support”. (Source: The Manifest of Slow Food International, adopted from the foundation assembly of the international Slow Food Movement. Paris, 9 December 1989)
The project partners
- Slow Food International
- Slow Food Vienna
- Alpe-Adria Slow Food Convivium
- ARGE Slow Food Travel business cooperation (5 leading enterprises)
- Kärnten Werbung Marketing & Innovationsmanagement GmbH
- Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy
- Nassfeld / Lesachtal / Weißensee Region
- Lesachtal Valley Tourism Association
- Kötschach-Mauthen, Dellach/Gail, Kirchbach
- Leading producers, hosts and hotel operators