Did you know there was such a thing as wild garlic? Yep...there is - it goes by the name of "berlauch" around here - also called wild ramp in English. And it's growing "everywhere" according to any Austrian I've talked to recently. Now, I would venture a guess that it's perhaps not "everywhere", but it does appear to be in abundance.
We were just at an amazing dinner party last week (what is it with Austrians and amazing dinner parties? I've really had to learn to step up my game with these guys), where the second course featured a homemade pesto (not like my store-bought cheats I like to pass off as real entertaining) made from berlauch. And if the dinner party was amazing, then the pesto was AH-MAH-ZING. I've been thinking about it since.
Since anyone I've asked so far just tells me that I can find this mysterious berlauch "everywhere", I reached out to Merisi, the resident expert on Vienna for a little more info. For those willing to get the fresh stuff straight from the woods, where it is, of course, "everywhere", you can find it more precisely:
"along Höhenstrasse, for example along the stretch between Keylwertgasse (in the 19th District) and Neuwaldegger Strasse. Only a few hundred meters from Keylwertgasse you'll notice a meadow to your right and then a brook, that's a nice area to talk a walk and collect your greens. Another one just before you reach the intersection with Neuwaldegger: to your left, a path leads down to a foot bridge across a brook, plenty of opportunities there too (there is often one of those farm stands there, just before a few apartment buildings). There are opportunities to stop all along Höhenstrasse, just drive along it and you'll see you don't even need any help spotting those green fields of Bärlauch."
For those less comfortable foraging in the outskirts, you can also find it at the open air markets and even at the grocery store.
For berlauch pesto (try it, you won't regret it), I got our dinner's host to part with his recipe. You'll need:
- small cut Bärlauch
- roasted Pine nuts
- salt/ pepper
- toasted bread if you want
- a lot of high quality olive oil
Here's the thing. Our friend didn't give any quantities. That's because the recipe is a secret one, so you'll have to play with the proportions to taste; however a general pesto recipe, like the one here, can give you some starting numbers to work from.
Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife