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Ein Grosser Brauner Wie Immer

A good part of the Nina Bannister mystery Frame Change takes place in southern Austria.  I suppose T’Gracie and I might have set it almost anywhere else (for art smuggling surely is a world- wide occupation), but we wanted to pay an homage to the city where we first got to know each other, and with which we have carried on a decades-long love affair.

There is so much to be said about Graz, its history, its architecture, its gracious and fun loving people—but for us, thoughts of the city, no matter where they begin and no matter through what circuitous path they travel, always end in the same place:

Food.

Breakfast means sitting on the balcony of the Café Europa, the marketplace spread out beneath, women with multi-colored Dirndl skirts gingerly examining fruits and vegetables, with a ridge of the dark green and fog covered Fischbacker Alps looking on from the distance.  Coffee and croissants.  And what coffee!  Ein kleiner Schwarzen, Bitte! (A little black one, please) or Ein grosser Brauner, wie immer!  (Big brown one, with cream, like always!)

Lunch is taken at any number of a thousand or so restaurants, sitting at a quiet metal table out back in the small garden.  Except that now one has realized that Austrian food is not German food.  It shows, on the other hand, the vast variety of the old Hapsburg Empire.  Raznici, Czevapcicci, and, most thrilling of all, delights from the Hungarian world. (Goulasch Suppe!).

Evenings one drives five miles or so out into the countryside and dines at a Heurige, where a farmer has erected a large tent, slaughtered two or three roasting pigs (Ferkel), and harvested some of his own wine.

Then back into Graz to The Herzl Weinstube, to link arms, sing songs, and sip the cold white Nachtigaller (nightingale) wine.

And in the morning…

..what else?

Ein grosser Brauner wie immer!

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