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.

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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. ♥

Dukatenschnitzerl

On Christmas Eve Robert and I feasted on fresh raw oysters, a fresh whole baked trout with lemon and herbs, and parsley potatoes before opening gifts in the evening. Unlike in the States, Germans (along with many other European countries) celebrate Christmas on the 24th, Christmas Eve, with a big family dinner and  gift exchange in the evening.

On Christmas Day we made dukatenschnitzerl, or little fried balls of pork and fried potatoes with a lemon-thyme salt and fried parsley. This dish reminds me of the classic British fish and chips dish, but pork instead of fish. (Is there honestly anything better than fried pork??!) It´s a classic Austrian dish. We used a recipe from the Wiener Küche cookbook by Susanne Zimmel. FYI:  “Dukaten” is an old word for “coin” and the pieces of pork and potato are roughly the size of coins, which is where this dish gets its name — “little coin schnitzel.”

First, here is a list of ingredients you will need:

  • Potatoes
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh parsley
  • Lemon
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salt & Pepper

To get started, boil the potatoes until they are soft, about 30 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, remove a few sprigs of thyme from the stem.

Then, get out your mortar and pestle to make the lemon-thyme salt. First, place the thyme inside and add the zest of one lemon. Crush well. Then, add salt and pepper and crush well once more. (As you can see, we also added a few dried tomatoes because we had them, but these are not required.)

While the potatoes continue to boil, cut up the pork tenderloin into bite-sized pieces. Also, set up your flour-egg-breadcrumb station (from left to right) as you can see below. At this point, the potatoes are likely soft and can be removed from the boiling water. Once the potatoes have cooled a bit and are easy to handle, peel them and cut into bite-sized pieces as well.

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Pork tenderloin cut into small pieces
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Flour + Eggs + Breadcrumbs
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Boiled potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces

Next, put the butter and the lard (schmalz) into a big pot, which is what you will use to fry the pork, potatoes, and parsley. Allow the butter and lard to melt and then raise the temperature to 150ºC for frying. Add the potatoes to the pot with butter and lard and fry until they´re crunchy like french fries or chips.

Next, fry a few sprigs of fresh parsley in the same pot of hot butter and lard. Make sure to have a plate or bowl lined with paper towel nearby where you can deposit the potatoes, parsley, and ultimately the pork after frying so that any excess frying grease can be absorbed.

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Fried Potatoes
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Fried Parsley

Now, take the pork pieces and dip into the flour, then the eggs, and finally the breadcrumbs before placing into the frying pot. Be sure the butter-lard is still at 150ºC for frying. Fry the pork until golden brown in color.

Now that the potatoes, parsley, and pork has been fried you’re ready to assemble! We served our dinner in newspaper cones as if it were street food. Just load up the cone with pieces of the fried pork and fried potatoes and top with slices of lemon, the fried parsley, and the lemon-thyme salt …and bon appetit!

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Wolfgangsee

Robert and I spent a long weekend at the Wolfgangsee in Austria for my birthday. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Im Weissen Rossl (The White Horse Inn). We took a boat cruise, rented a paddle boat, spent a lot of time lounging around by the pool, ate a lot of schnitzel (duh!), and just generally had a really relaxing and much-needed getaway.

Oh, and I got my first dirndl, which is a traditional Austrian dress. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would wear one, let alone own one!

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