I think it may be safe to say that we’ve arrived at a post we’ve all been waiting for (or at least I have…). And so, it is with gusto that I present to you the gastronomic tales of Vienna. And then it will be on to other cities and tales, I promise!
Vienna has been regarded as one of the baking capitals of the world for some time. Their konditoreis can rival the best, with selections of classic cakes and pastries to the unique Viennese creations. I had this reaffirmed by a the two biker hosts of a British baking show just last weekend, in fact. Not that I needed affirmation after having tasted the Viennese classics such a sachertorte for myself!
You may recall my mentioning the sachertorte before. This chocolate-apricot cake is a local specialty created by a man named Franz Sacher. He first came up with the cake for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in 1832 – and he was 16 years old, to boot! His son perfected the recipe at the Demel bakery where he finished his own training. He would go on to open Hotel Sacher as well, and both places are where the “original sachertorte” can be found (only Salzburg and Bolzano, Italy are the two other cities where the original torte is made; otherwise they are shipped out from these locations). While watching that same show the other day, I learned that there are two rivaling ways to create the sachertorte. Hotel Sacher serves their torte with a layer of apricot jam between two cake layers as well as a layer beneath the chocolate frosting on top. The second skips out on the jam layer in between the cake. While having had the first one (though not at the Hotel Sacher – yet), I can tell you that the torte creates a perfect blend of rich chocolate with a fruity hint that will leave you craving for that one more bite!
Austria isn’t just home to the sachertorte, however. The country is also famous for crafting the apfelstrudel. It is exactly what you are thinking that is – good old apple strudel! The classic (correct, I’m sure the Austrians would say – and I’d take their word for it) way to make it is by rolling the dough out extremely thin before wrapping it over the apple filling. This produces a beautiful, light, but delicious end to a meal or afternoon treat! Though I was disappointed to have missed out on this one, Betsey only had good things to say about it – in between each bite no less!
As mentioned in my earlier post, Vienna is home to the famous Naschmarkt; a market that stretches down the road for a mile! It has been around as a market since the 1500’s when milk was sold there. It’s incredible to simply wander through and take everything in. One of the two rows the market is made up of features actual cafes and small restaurants, and it was here that we ate lunch on Wednesday (before going to the Opera). We decided on a traditional looking place where Amanda and I split two dishes. You may have heard of this one, actually. I ordered weiner schnitzel which came with the potato salad that is traditionally served with it (not French fries!).
Wiener schnitzel is an Austrian specialty where a piece of boneless meat (usually veal or pork) which is pounded until very thin, breaded, and fried. I decided to try the pork wiener schnitzel which was pretty good. Admittedly, though I thought I had the right idea idea, I didn’t actually know what exactly wiener schnitzel was before that, so I’m very glad I took the opportunity to try it. The potato salad, though, was the highlight to me. The potatoes were sliced and tossed with diced red onion in a sweet and tangy dressing. I have to say that it was one of the best potato salads I’ve ever had! My dish was served with a kaiser roll as well, which I’m glad I ended up waiting to eat because Amanda had a great idea to blend it with with her meal. She had ordered a bratwurst which came with a gulasch (Austrian goulash) sauce and a roll; can you guess what the good idea was? The wurst and sauce placed in the kaiser roll, of course! It was delicious.
We also had lunch at the Naschmarkt on Thursday as well, though not at one of the restaurants. Instead we had a snack lunch made of some tastes here and there from the various stands and small shops. Amanda and I split a thin, rye pretzel (dry, not the soft kind), three of us split two different kinds of cheese to taste (one an intriguing soft-ish white cheese with blueberries in it – that was the one I said I had to try – and then a slice of Fontina), I had a square of baklava for the first time (so good!), and the best part, some of these fruit and vegetables filled with goat cheese. I picked out three to try; a cherry tomato, a dried fig, and a dried apricot. They were amazing, and though hard to pick, I’d have to say the apricot was my favorite as the sweetness contrasted well with the sharpness of the cheese.
Oh and I almost forgot; I also tried Turkish delight for the first time as Betsey kindly shared some when she heard that I’d never had it before. The flavor she had picked was rosewater, and it had a nice mellow taste which I quite liked. Before leaving I picked up the most dried fruit I’ve ever had for the future train rides and travels ahead. The dried fruit also had me reminiscing about working in the bulk department at the local grocery store back home…
Readers, if you’ve ever been to a farmers market just picture that about ten times the size, throw in some small cafes and restaurants and you’ve got the Naschmarkt. It is so cool just to walk around in and see the colorful fruits, the cakes, the meats, fish, and cheeses! There are a one or two fruits I’d never seen before, and I only wish we’d had more time there so I could have tried even more of the unique foods. Vienna is truly a culinary city, especially known for their cakes and pastries, though I can’t say I had a bad meal while there either! I hope that you get the chance to try these foods in this wonderful city for yourselves someday. You may feel as if you have to start working out immediately after a trip there, but trust me, it’s worth it! Thanks for reading, cheers! Until then…