Before visiting Vienna, I thought of three things regarding Viennese food: lots of meat, lots of cakes, and lots of coffee. Meat – great, I love meat, give me more! Cakes – I’m not a fan of sweet food or desserts in general, but why not? Coffee – must have!
Compared to Switzerland, my previous destination, let’s just say…food in Vienna was much cheaper, much bigger in portion size, and much more delicious! Sorry Switzerland, you may have the mountains and the lakes (which Austria also has, in fact) but you are nowhere as attractive as Vienna to a foodie 😉 Apple strudel + schnitzel beats fondue + chocolate any day, would you agree with me?
In Vienna, you can’t avoid having schnitzel. The Figlmüller restaurant has their own famous variation of the traditional Wiener Schnitzel (made with veal) – it’s made with pork instead. Thin, crispy, warm, flavourful…so good that I might even say that it’s better than the original veal version! And it was huge! What a fulfilling lunch!
A highly appraised and widely recommended bar in Vienna is Salm Bräu, which is in fact a “micro-brewery” serving its own beer and a variety of Viennese food. With the arrival of my friend Mengmeng, we only had enough time to eat lunch together, and so we decided to go to Salm Bräu. First up – “Bohemian brown beer soup topped with cheese”. A beef stew with…beer? Why…that sounded more than interesting. As the name implied, the soup was very beery and rather strong, actually, overpowering the beef and the cheese. But hey, we were at a brewery, after all. Definitely a unique, refreshing thing to try!
For the main course, we ordered “Ofenfrische”, a specialty of Salm Bräu – spare ribs and potato wedges served with three sauces. My goodness, the size of that thing was “generous”, to say the least, but no complaints for two very hungry girls anticipating a very satisfying lunch.
Schnitzel appears again, this time it is the traditional Viennese veal version – served with parsley potatoes and cranberries – rather than the one made with pork at Figlmüller. Compared to the pork version, the schnitzel from Salm Bräu was thicker and rougher in shape, but just as tasty. Lots of meat in Vienna? Check. Side note: I really really REALLY wanted to try the stelze (gigantic haunch of ham, sort of like the schweinshaxe in Germany) but ended up not to…it’s something I’ll remember if I ever go back to Vienna!
Mengmeng is totally ready to dig in, but not before we both took a billion photos of each course from 50 million different angles. Here she was probably saying, “Hurry up and finish taking your photos, Annie, I’m way too hungry already!”
Yeah I was hungry too, trust me, and I was ready to DEVOUR. So glad to be able to share this absolutely fantastic meal in Vienna with a friend from Bordeaux, even if it was the only meal we were able to have together. OK, let’s eat!!!
After a very filling lunch, Mengmeng and I dropped by the famous Café Central with a mission to try a few of their cakes and chat with a cup of coffee. We took a stroll in the park and slowly walked to Café Central, so our stomachs were totally ready for dessert by the time we arrived. Out of the myriad of dazzling choices presented in front of us, we selected three desserts to try, the first being the “Altenbergtorte” (description: chocolate cake with white, dark, and milk chocolate mousse). A little too sweet for me, as expected.
Next up, something called “Maroni Deluxe” (chestnut mousse, vanilla cream, rum). When Mengmeng and I first saw this little thing we both thought…are those noodles on top??? Seriously, tell me those thin strands of chestnut mousse don’t look like sphagetti… -_- In any case, that became the exact reason why we decided to go for it, simply because it looked too amusing. The rum was strong and I had to resist getting a pair of chopsticks to pick up the spaghetti, but the addition of chestnut mousse and vanilla cream was quite fitting. I liked it!
In addition to the two very exquisite desserts, we picked a simple apple strudel (apfelstrudel in German), a very popular and authentic Austrian pastry sold everywhere. Sprinkled with a bit of sugar, the apple strudel entered my mouth and my first thought was…how could an apple strudel taste SO GOOD? It was a little warm, not too sweet, with a perfect texture combining the apple and the pastry. Not enough – I want more! This ended up being both Mengmeng’s and my favourite out of the three desserts. Maybe it is true that food tastes better where it comes from, as was the case with the pizza in La Spezia. Apple strudel – strongly recommended in Austria! Cake? CHECK.
Finally, let’s talk about coffee. I don’t remember exactly what I got, actually…I think it was Viennese coffee? Or it might have been “eiskaffee”? (Eiskaffee…ice coffee? Maybe.) Anyway, it was basically chilled, dark coffee mixed with vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream. When I took a sip of the coffee I thought…SO BITTER! Then I tasted a spoonful of vanilla ice cream and I thought…SO SWEET! Well that made sense. I mixed the two, taking a spoonful of ice cream and a generous sip of coffee to discover what became heaven in my mouth. YEAH, THAT WAS WHAT DELICIOUS IS ALL ABOUT. Coffee? CHECK.
Now we turn away from the restaurants and bars and cafés for a bit. When I was wandering in Vienna, sometimes I just felt like having a simple hot snack, and as hot dog stands were abundant on the streets of Vienna, I had no trouble finding exactly what I wanted. It reminded me of street meat in Toronto, but the way the vendors in Vienna make their hot dogs is interesting. There is an apparatus that punches a deep hole in the bread, and the condiments were added prior to the meat. When the meat was ready, you just had to slide it in and you got yourself a perfect hot dog with the condiments evenly spread and wrapped inside the safety of the long bread, reducing the risk of dripping. How clever!
Before I end this entry, let’s just take a look at two more little desserts that I had on my way from Vienna to Hallstatt (which should be the next post). I felt like dessert for breakfast + the early 3.5-hour train ride…hmm. I think this was some sort of pastry with vanilla cream and chocolate inside, couldn’t remember for the life of me what it was exactly. Something sweet to stimulate my morning and provide a perfect start to a long travel day turned out to be a good idea 😀
Second part: a plain cheesecake, simple and sweet, literally. I totally overdid it, as I didn’t manage to finish the cheesecake. If it were any other time of the day…I probably could have done it. I didn’t think a slice that looked so innocent could be so filling…
So there you have it, my food adventures in Vienna, Austria. I ate a lot more good food than I had anticipated, and still to this day I miss the schnitzel and the apple strudel, my two favourite encounters in the city. If I made you hungry, I’m sorry 😦 But perhaps you’d like to see some more food photos from around the world on my food blog, The Food Gallery? Shameless plug at its best…gotta run!