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Asparagus season officially opens

The asparagus season has officially started in Austria and in the heart of asparagus country at Deutsch-Wagram it was a reason to celebrate with a band and an official festival.

The now traditional "Spargelgala" is so popular that it has become a magnet for nearby Vienna high society that come to enjoy asparagus in all its many forms at the country's most famous asparagus restaurant – the Marchfelderhof.

Chef Gerhard Bocek said: "The gala is the most important festival for us in the whole year."

And the flood of traffic from Vienna is proof that he's telling the truth. At this time of year it's almost impossible to get a table reservation at the restaurant.

That makes it not only healthy but also profitable. Boeck said: "It is honestly great for our yearly profits. At this time of year getting a table at our restaurant is an art in itself."

One person who didn't have any problem getting a table at the elaborately decorated restaurant was charity Lady Jeannine Schiller who said: "I come here about five times a year. I think that the place is really charming. "

The entire ceiling is covered with musical instruments, cooking pans and clocks. Every tiny space on the wall is covered with photographs under the watchful eye of designer Nhut La Hong, who said: "I have decided to let you into the secret – here it looks exactly like it looks at my house."

Thaiboxer Fadi Merza kept his enthusiasm within limits – saying: "I think it's great that there's not just a culinary feast but also a feast for the eyes – but it does have to have limits. I wouldn't like this at home for example."

This year the asparagus Queen was crowned by former ÖVP-defence Minister Werner Fasslabend who is at the moment still on crutches after a car accident earlier in the year.

As official head of the Marchfelder Asparagus Appreciation Brotherhood he said: "I feel as if I was born here, grew up here and I'm a massive fan of asparagus. I hope that our asparagus also becomes famous abroad as well.

A rare appearance was also made by Eva Walderdorff, the former society lady who's been taking a backseat on public appearances ever since she was caught stealing at a duty-free shop at Vienna airport.

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