Personally, there is nothing that makes me feel more free than the opportunity to travel. The ability to pick a place on the map, book a flight, select a hotel, and plan all the wonderful sights and restaurants I’ll visit during my trip.
To celebrate the Fourth of July this year (and also as a belated birthday present), my husband and I traveled to The Principality of Liechtenstein (a country who is currently celebrating its 300 Year Anniversary). Liechtenstein is the world’s sixth smallest country positioned between Switzerland and Austria. The primary language spoken is German, and its capital is Vaduz. Vaduz is also the location of Schloss Vaduz (Vaduz Castle) and the home of the Prince of Liechtenstein and his family.
The Residence Hotel is also located in Vaduz almost directly below the Prince’s Castle, and it’s the hotel we chose for our home base as each of the four days of our vacation, we planned to drive into different countries for the day and return to Vaduz at night to stay.
The first day of the trip, we flew into Zurich (Switzerland) from San Francisco on a non-stop flight, rented a car, and drove about 90 minutes to Vaduz. Not only is the Prince’s house in Vaduz, but he also has a winery there, and that evening, we walked from our hotel room to the winery, The Hofkellerei of the Prince of Liechtenstein, to attend an all-you-can-eat grill buffet featuring an all-you-can-drink wine tasting.
It was surreal to spend Independence Day at such a magical place. Guests of the event along with my husband Andy and myself were given a welcome toast and seated at tables outside within feet of the rosebush-lined vineyard. We were then dismissed table by table to fill our plate in the buffet line. There were many different items from which to choose: sausages, hamburgers with speck and cheese, steak, fish and shrimp, sauces to dress them, multiple salads, roasted potatoes, breads, and rolls.
I was very excited to taste the wines of another country besides the United States, Italy, or France. Now it was time for an Austria and Liechtenstein degustation. (Tip: degustation means tasting in German. Put that together with “wein” to say “wein degustation” and you’ll be off to having fun and making friends!) At the BBQ they were pouring many wines, but I’ll mention one in particular called Zweigelt, because it’s Austria’s most planted red wine grape, and not widely known in the United States amongst non-wine geeks. The varietal is a cross between Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent, and is described as similar to a Pinot Noir.
I’ll also add that the Princely Winery includes this Vaduz location “Herawingert”, and Domain Wilfersdorf in Austria (why I noted Austria above). Other wines the locations produce are Zweigelt Rosé (what I drank most of that evening, because rosé all day in summer!), Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, F.L. Classique (sparkling wine), Merlot, Chardonnay, and many more.
For dessert, there were multiple flavors of gelato, cheesecake, Linzer torte, petit fours, macarons, tiramisu. No one left hungry, as after dessert, the chefs brought out more plates of sausages and meats as we all lingered on the patio enjoying the wines and the perfect weather.
I’ve never been to heaven, but this al fresco wining and dining experience with views of the Princely vineyard and the mountains must have been close. It had only been a month prior that I had found the BBQ event on the Hofkellerei’s website and told my husband about it. I couldn’t believe I was finally sitting there, and that it was only the first day of our vacation!
The next day would be wine tasting in Switzerland. Until then…prost!
Happy Birthday America! To celebrate, here’s a burger recipe I’d like to share with you that will really blow up your Fourth of July celebration!!
Spicy Fourth of July Burgers
1 pound grass fed beef
(The meat we used was a 1 pound package of Certified Organic grass-fed beef from Rocky Mountain Organic Meats.)
2 chipotle peppers
1 Tbs crushed garlic
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp Hungarian paprika
1 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
To prepare, seed and remove the membrane from the chipotle peppers. Put them in a food processor with the garlic and all the other spices.
Mix the processed chipotle mixture with the beef in a medium-sized bowl. Make sure the mixture is well incorporated. Form into patties based on the size you want. We made three out of the pound, and they were the perfect size.
We sampled three different wines with our dinner last night. The distributor sent a bottle of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages, [yellow tail] Sweet Red Roo, and a bottle of Hob Nob Cabernet Sauvignon (from Languedoc-Roussillon, France)
Of the three wines, I thought the Beaujolais-Villages worked best. It was fruity and acidic enough to stand up to the spiciness of the burgers.
The [yellow tail] Sweet Red Roo reminded me of some sweeter Amador wines I have tried, but without the high alcohol. It would be best served with a little chill or used in a sangria.
The Hob Nob was a nice end to the meal because it had a nice tobacco and chocolate finish. It’s a dry wine, but it served very well as dessert. Unless you count the glass of Rockwall Chardonnay that I went back to after that. Hey, it’s summer… gotta drink those whites!! 😛
I also made a Peach and Chipotle Ketchup (from scratch, naturally) to top these burgers. Stay tuned for the recipe. Peaches are really coming into season, and you’ll definitely want to try this out. The ketchup is both sweet and spicy and tasted great on the burger as well as on top of the eggplant and sweet potato fries we made last night.
About Rocky Mountain Organic Meats
Rocky Mountain Organic Meats offers Certified Organic grass-fed beef along with a large selection of other organic foods such as fruits, vegetables and poultry. All of their meats are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished. Their livestock is raised the old-fashioned way; no steroids or growth hormones, no antibiotics and no grain.
The only ingredients are clean water, grasses and fresh air. They also process the meat according to stringent USDA regulations. The meat can be ordered cut according to your specifications. You can order a quarter, half or full side of meat to fill you freezer.