Tag Archives: food

Local dialect, local food

7 Oct

These billboards have been up for a couple of weeks now. The word in quotation marks is local dialect for the veg they’re showing. The map in the upper righthand corner (that little red squiggle) shows in white where in Austria the item comes from, accompanied by the proud statement, “This is where I’m from”.

I wasn’t aware that Austrians needed advertising to eat their own, relatively locally-grown food. After all, we’re talking about a people who consistently eat butter, for example, from their own country–in contrast to the Brits, who, it seems, will eat any kind of butter (mostly Danish or Irish) but their own.

eat local food

Luxury hotels

5 Oct

There was a time I think, although I’m no expert, when luxury hotels advertised with products from foreign places. The trend seems to have reversed itself, at least in Austria. Suddenly there is Strassertaler honey and jam made by a local farmer (or more likely the farmer’s wife) out of their own “house plums” at the breakfast buffet.


9 May

May is the month of many holidays, Austria still being a Catholic country. Today was Ascension, which means we still have Pentecost Monday and Corpus Christi to go. What to do on a holiday in May when the weather is perfect? I opted for lunch at the Palmenhaus in the Burggarten with a friend. A good choice.


Don’t waste food

7 Mar

I’ve had a egg carton sitting next to my computer for days to remind me to write about a new text in the cartons. I’ve long thought that the Viennese are better at putting their money where their mouths are than my compatriots, and I feel this backs me up.

One would think that egg farmers would want to sell as as many eggs as possible, never mind if food gets wasted. Well, not everywhere. There is now a heart with a stem printed inside the egg cartons in Vienna with the motto “Food is precious” [“Lebensmittel sind kostbar!”]. Next to this is the following text (translation mine): Food is precious! So don’t throw any away. Eggs, for example, can safely be used after their expiration date for baking and cooking, or enjoyed as hard-boiled eggs. It’s simply important to heat the egg thoroughly before eating.

Given the choice between selling more eggs and trying to prevent the waste of food the Austrians have clearly come down on the not wasting food side of the debate. Perhaps that is what happens when you still have people in your population who remember the cold and hunger of war?

It’s spring

7 Mar

I have just had my first ice cream cone of the season–chocolate and strawberry–at one of the best ice cream places in Vienna, Bortolotti’s at Schüttauplatz, in the 22nd district.  That’s special in Vienna because most of the smaller ice cream places close from October to March. (Some of them even turn into fur coat shops for that time.) It’s the family’s only chance to recover from a relentless summer season and it fits the Viennese idea that there is (still) a season for certain things. Well, I am old-fashioned and like that. It means one appreciates those things more. 🙂

For the First Sunday in Advent – Vanillekipferln

2 Dec

One of my favorite books by Eva Ibbotson is The Morning Gift, a story, one could say, about Jewish and other refugees living in unaccustomed poverty in Belsize Park after the annexation of Austria to the German Reich in 1938. There is a scene where a long-awaited rental piano is finally about to be delivered to the Berger family, who have been saving up for it for months. To celebrate the mother, Leonie, bakes Vanillekipferln, typically Viennese cookies for Advent and Christmas.

Ibbotson writes, “The piano was expected in the middle of the morning, but Leonie had been up since six o’clock, cleaning the rooms, reblocking the mouseholes, polishing and dusting. By seven o’clock she had begun to bake and here she was destined to run into trouble.

“Leonie was relatively indifferent to the arrival of Heini’s piano, but Ruth was bringing her friends to celebrate and that was important … If her husband had been with her, Leonie would have found it difficult to provide suitable refreshment, for the food budget was desperately tight, but the absence of the professor – much as she missed him – meant that they had been able to eat potatoes and apple purée made from windfalls Mishak had collected on his rambles and save.

“Leonie accordingly had saved and bought two kilos of fine flour … had bought freshly ground almonds and icing sugar and unsalted butter and the very finest vanilla pods – and by nine o’clock was removing from the oven batch after batch of perfectly baked vanilla Kipferl.

“At which point her plans for the morning began to go wrong. Leonie wanted Mishak to stay and meet Ruth’s friends – she always wanted Mishak – but what she wanted Hilda to do was go to the British Museum and what she wanted Fräulein Lutzenholler to do was go up the hill and look at Freud.

“She had reckoned without the power of the human nose to unlock emotion and recall the past. Hilda came first, stumbling out of the bedroom in her dressing gown … Fräulein Lutzenholler, her fierce face tilted in disbelief, came next, carrying her sponge bag  …

“By the time the scent of freshly ground coffee came to blend with the warm, familiar scent of the thumb-sized crescents, it was clear that not only would no one voluntarily leave Number 27 that morning, but a great many others would come …”

Vanillekipferln (adapted from the Kronenzeitung Kochbuch)

180 gms butter; 70 gms peeled and ground almonds; 50 gms of sugar; 2 egg yolks; 210 gms of flour (as fine as possible); powdered sugar; vanilla sugar

Beat butter, almonds, sugar, egg yolks, and flour together quickly and thoroughly. Let dough rest for one hour in a cool place. Roll the dough into “snakes” about as thick as your thumb. Cut the “snakes” into small pieces (7 – 8 cm long) and bend the pieces into crescents. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 180°C until they are a light golden color. Mix the powdered sugar together with the vanilla sugar. Then roll the still-warm cookies in the sugar mixture.

Delicious with coffee, as Leonie served them.

A Friday morning in Vienna in the summer (an e-mail to my mother)

24 Aug

Good morning, dear!

It’s promising (threatening? ;-)) to be very hot today. Mylo and I went for our usual walk and I took my usual break on my usual tree stump in the meadow at the Narrenturm. We were having such a nice time outdoors I thought “I don’t want to go home” and decided on the spot to go to Café Weimar, dogwalking shorts and naked face notwithstanding. So Mylo and I traipsed off to Café Weimar where we sat under the awning and I had a croissant and caffè latte. As Maylo’s vet is very near there and I needed to pick up the food I had ordered for him I considered hanging around until they opened at 9:00 to save myself an extra trip. However it was only 8:15, and I thought that might be a bit too much hanging around.

Then I found myself staring at the big sign announcing the weekly open-air market of organic and (relatively) local produce at the WUK on the other side of Währinger Straße. I’ve thought about checking that out for years and never gotten around to it. They didn’t open until 9:00 either, but I decided that those two things together were worth waiting for so  I pulled out a little notebook from my bag and started making notes for work on Monday and my interview on Tuesday. I was able to pull my thoughts together really well (amazing what a cup of strong coffee and nice surroundings will do for one’s concentration) and then went off and bought grapes to take to M’s party tomorrow and picked up Mylo’s food.

Just to top it all off—I texted P from Café Weimar and arranged to have dinner together this evening in Pötzleinsdorf.

I have now closed up all windows and lowered all possible blinds to stem the onslaught of the heat and am sitting here with the fan blowing on my legs.

Wishing you just such a nice day!!!