Waltzing in Vienna: Chocolate, pastries, wurstelstande and Naschmarkt
As I was going through my photographs of chocolates, pastries and street food from my Vienna visit, it struck me how I am always more drawn to savory delicacies than sweet. To the bemusement of my friends and family, I always choose charcuterie over chocolate or appetizers over dessert. Easily distracted from the task at hand, uploading photos to my posts, I wondered how contemporary knowledge about taste and taste preferences has advanced from the basic information I learned in first year physiology eons ago. We were taught that there were four primary taste senses - sweet, sour, salt and bitter, and that the distribution of taste reception in the tongue was bitter at the back, salt and sour along the sides and sweet at the tip. My first idle foray via Google into the matter of taste introduced me to the fifth taste sense, umami - and got me sidetracked into reading about the genetics of taste. Hmmm.. maybe I can finally understand my gustatory peculiarities. It's not me that hates cilantro and olives, and loves prosciutto and salamis - it's my genes.
Here follows some of my non-restaurant focused food experiences in Vienna.
A Street Vendor - Würstelstand
The night we saw The Sleeping Beauty at the Vienna Staatsopern we ate a very early dinner to get to the ballet on time for the 7:00 PM start. Coming out from the Opera house late at night, we were both quite hungry. Several times we had passed by a würstelstand (Austrian street sausage vendor) en route back to the hotel. These street vendors in the Inner City area are open late at night when conventional restaurants are closed so I figured this was my chance to sample street vendor sausages.
There are different varieties of sausages available from these stands. One is the familiar hotdog, Frankfurter or Wiener sausage that is commonly served at home. Others may include Klobasse - a thick spicy sausage which may have ham added or the käsekrainer - sausage with cheese inside.
I chose the käsekrainer. The vendor sliced the sausage, and served it with bread, and mustard. I rejected ketchup. We sat nearby to eat our choices.. The sausage was good - I didn't eat the bread. I should have just got two different sausages to try. On a return visit maybe a "horizontal tasting" of würstelstand würsts would be on my to-do list.
Coffee and pastries at Aida Cafe and Konditorei
The Aida Cafes are a chain of espresso coffee and pastry shops in Vienna. Lunching with friends one day, they voted to have dessert at the large Aida Cafe/Konditorei nearby. It was packed but we made our way upstairs and found two small tables against the wall. The only dessert that appealed to me were the cupcakes, but our waitress said they were out of them. Hmmmm. Already at lunch time? So I decided instead to just have a decaf coffee with cream. But then at the urging of the other three I ordered a cake that sounded nice but turned out to be more mousse than cake. I had a few bites but the others ended up tasting most of it.
The apfel strudel was voted very good and the coffee was great - excellent flavour for a decaffeinated coffee.
Another variety of cakes with a marzipan topping was displayed in the window. When I saw that one kind was a Spiderman design and another a sponge Bob, I knew I had to get them for my grand-kids.
At the Cafe I was told that the cakes are good for about ten days. I decided to get two each for the grand-kids. Since I knew I would not be able to give them to the kiddies for some time, I just put the boxes in the freezer when I got home. Hopefully when the cakes thaw they will taste as good as fresh - but if not, I am sure they will love the idea and the designs anyway.
Chocolates at the Hotel Sacher
One of my pre-trip Vienna word associations was the famous Sacher torte. In the end I actually did not get to taste it but I did buy a selection of chocolates as gifts from the Cafe Sacher shop at the Hotel Sacher.
Well, the 7 pack with a mocha flavour shown here actually ended up making it home in my suitcase. I have been home for 12 days and although they are delish there are still 4 left so I guess that confirms that I am no chocoholic. The larger pack shown here contains various liqueur centres, and there are also chocolates with fruity interiors.
After the wrap-up class at the dance School, we accompanied our Austrian teachers Axel and Sandra to the Naschmarkt, described as "Vienna's largest and best-known market. I was impressed. The produce looked fresh and bountiful. There was every kind of store that I love - the charcuteries, the cheese counters, places selling nuts and seeds, and all sorts of prepared Middle eastern and Indian delicacies.
I wish I had discovered this at the beginning of the week. I would have stocked my little mini-bar fridge with all my favorite snacks.
After we had wandered through the market we had an excellent seafood lunch at Nautilus, one of the fish cafes in the market.
I love our Granville Island market in Vancouver but I must say this Naschmarkt was awesome. Here is a collage of pictures from the Naschmarkt. You will see what I mean.