What to Eat & Drink in Vienna

If you know me, you know I love good food. While there are so many things to love about Vienna (architecture, culture, coffee houses, Christmas markets, and the list goes on and on) here I’ll share my favorite Viennese and Austrian treats!

Wiener Schnitzel – As you walk by restaurants in Vienna, or while at your Oma’s house, you often hear the pounding of the meat in the kitchen. They pound out the veal (or pork or even chicken) until it’s very thin, dip it in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, and then fry in oil until golden brown. It’s often served with a slice of lemon for drizzling and a little currant jam for dipping.

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Wiener Schnitzel

White Wine Spritzers – I mean, this drink is genius. They say you should always drink a glass of water in between drinks, right? Well, how about adding water directly to your drink? A spritzer is white (or red) wine  – normally a local Grüner Veltliner – with sparkling water, sometimes served with ice and lemon slices. The ratios vary – the “regular” year-round spritzer is about 50/50 wine-to-water and the “summer spritzer” is a little less wine and more water.

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White Wine Spritzers

Käsekrainer / Cheese-filled Sausage – I’m from Wisconsin so anything filled with cheese is a-okay in my book. They’re normally sold at your corner Würstelstand (“sausage box”) and come in a big hot dog bun (with a hole cut out through the middle – smart) and filled with ketchup, mustard, and fresh shredded horseradish.

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Käsekrainer

Liptauer – This is a very popular spicy cheese dip, one that we’ve made part of our annual Thanksgiving dinner. It’s made with sheep cheese, butter, onion, pickle, capers, mustard, cumin, paprika, and sour cream. It’s really tasty and easy to find at an Austrian supermarket deli counter. Dip bread, pretzels, chips, whatever you like.

liptauer
Liptauer

Melange + Water – Vienna has a thriving coffee culture so all kinds of coffee are available here, but melange is the most traditional and popular. Melange translates to “mixed” and is made with one shot of espresso served in a large cup with steamed milk and milk foam. It’s always served with a small glass of tap water.

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Melange

Apfelstrudel // Apple Strudel – Layers of thin, flaky pastry dough are stuffed with apples, raisins, and cinammon, baked, and topped with powdered sugar. Enjoy this after dinner or like the Austrians as part of an afternoon “kaffee und kuchen” (coffee and cake) break. The first time I had this dessert was when my now-husband made it for me in Chicago. He brought his family’s apfelstrudel cloth, which is a large, thin cloth used for rolling out the pastry dough (yes, this really is a thing!) passed down from one generation to the next.

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Apfelstrudel

Cremeschnitte // Cream Cake – My favorite Austrian cake. A thin and crispy puff pastry filled with custard and chantilly cream. If you love this cake as much as me, you should be following @cremeschnittenandi on Instagram.

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Cremeschnitte

Grammelknödel – I’m convinced these are Austria’s best kept secret. Sure, there are dumplings everywhere here, but these are different. Special. Potato and semolina dumplings stuffed with pork cracklings, onion, and garlic. Yes, you read that right. PORK CRACKLINGS!!! Enough said, am I right? If you’re visiting, this should be at the top of your list of food to try, right next to schnitzel.

Grammelknödel

Sturm – Only available once a year – normally the end of September to mid-October – Sturm is a young wine that’s basically fermented fresh pressed grape juice. It tastes like carbonated grape juice and has only about 1% alcohol.

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Sturm

Gulasch – This beef stew is a Hungarian classic turned Viennese staple. There’s even a Gulasch Museum here in Vienna! My favorite version includes sauerkraut and potatoes. As with most stews, the key is to cook it low and slow.

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Gulasch

Kaiserschmarrn // Emporer’s Mess – Kaiserschmarrn, named after Franz Josef, is a caramelized and shredded sweet pancake served with powdered sugar, applesauce, and jam.

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Kaiserschmarrn

Elderflower Syrup // Holunderblüten Syrup – Elderflower is everywhere here. Austrians like to add a little syrup to a glass of carbonated or still water. Kind of like a non-alcoholic spritzer. They also make a sweet fried bread with the flowers. Our favorite brand to buy is Austria’s very own Darbo.

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Elderflower

If you’d like to follow my culinary adventures in Vienna, take a look at @hungry.in.europe on Instagram. ♥

Acclimating to Life in Vienna: The Girly Book Club & VoiceMap Walking Tour

As many of you know, Robert and I moved to Vienna, Austria in early July! Vienna is his hometown so we’re surrounded by family and old friends, and we’re making new friends. It’s very good to be here and back in a big city. ♥

However, I must admit that I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in Vienna myself – just a few weeks here and there over the last few years. So, I’m a bit of a tourist in my own city!

Fortunately, there is a large American community (see the U.S. Americans in Vienna, Austria Facebook group, for example) and a large international English-speaking community (if you’re female, check out the Women of Vienna Facebook group) here.

I’ve done a couple of things to help acclimate myself to my surroundings and meet new people. The first thing I did was start a Girly Book Club (GBC) chapter here in Vienna called (obviously!) the Vienna Girly Book Club.

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I was a member of the chapter in Stuttgart, Germany for the last couple of years and really loved our monthly meetings and discussions. We read and discussed great books and I even made a few life-long friends (shout out to Sarah in Stuttgart and Lisa now in Berlin!) So, why not do the same here in Vienna, right?!

We all read the same book, selected by GBC, each month and we meet here in Vienna at phil (such a cool place in the 6th district near Naschmarkt – it’s part library, part bookstore with comfy couches, amazing drinks, and tasty food and homemade cakes) on the last Monday of each month at 19:00. There is a nominal fee of €5 to attend. If you’re interested in joining us, please join our Facebook group! We meet again on Monday, September 24th and we’ll be discussing Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, which won a National Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction. It sounds like a good one!

The second thing I did was seek out a good walking tour of the center of the city (the 1st district), all of the beautiful and touristy stuff that I figure I should know something about! 🙂 I tried and loved my Vienna walking tour with Alex (he’s the local English-speaking guide) at VoiceMap.

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The tour is unique in that it uses GPS to track your exact location and give you the information you need at any given point along the walking route. Very cool! If your phone signal or GPS isn’t working for whatever reason, no problem, you can simply follow the map and click on the icons you see when you arrive at designated spots along the tour. Super easy!

My Vienna walk started at the Opera House and ended at St. Stephen’s cathedral. It was 60 minutes in total. I loved that I could do this tour on my own, and on my own time and at my own pace. It’s totally okay to pause the tour if you want to grab lunch, take photos, do a little shopping, whatever. Personally, I took three breaks – one for a sausage, one for an ice cream, and the last for an iced latte. 🙂 And, I was able to pick up exactly where I left off, no problem. Alex even recommends stopping at a Würstelstand (“sausage box”) while you’re on your tour so there’s absolutely no reason to feel guilty about eating a very unhealthy sausage snack (he even tells you a bit about the history of the käsekrainer hot dog!) So, essentially you can make this walking tour into a food tour on your own – bonus!

Other than doing a lot of eating (!!!) I learned everything I really need to know about the Opera House, the Star Walk, Hotel Sacher and the famous Sacher torte, the Albertina Museum, St. Augustina’s Church, the Monument Against War and Fascism, the Donner Fountain, the Capuchin Church, Neuer Markt square, Kärntner Street, and last but certainly not least, St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Without sharing spoilers, I will never look at the facade of St. Stephen’s – or any other cathedral – in the same way again!

I didn’t take photos of everything, but here are are some photos I did take while on the walking tour:

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Opera House + Pink Rabbit
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Opera House
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Opera House
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Käsekrainer Hot Dog
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Monument Against War & Fascism
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St. Stephen’s Cathedral
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St. Stephen’s Cathedral
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St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Bottom line, definitely check out VoiceMap. They have this same kind of walking tour available in 120 cities across 47 countries. I’ll be in London in a couple of weeks and I’m already looking forward to the Camden Town: People Watching and Pigging Out tour! Download the free app in the App Store or Google Play, and happy walking!