Viennese cuisine

Publish Time:2019-07-12 10:41:29Source:

【Introduction】:Wiener Schnitzel, Tafelspitz, Sacher Torte and Kaiserschmarren: these are just a few of the instantly recognizable and world-famous staples of Viennese cuisine. Each dish perfectly illustrates how different culinary influences come together in the city.

Vienna is probably the only city in the world to have lent its name to a particular style of cooking. The recipe behind the success of Viennese cuisine is extraordinarily simple: all you have to do is take the very best culinary traditions from Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Italy and the Balkans and blend them together to make some unusual dishes. In fact, the roots of many quintessentially “Viennese” specialties can be traced back to neighboring countries, which is hardly surprising given that Vienna was the heart of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy for centuries – a union which brought together countless cultures with their own unique culinary identities. The capital’s location – close to Hungary, Bohemia and Moravia – and the presence of exceptionally gifted female cooks from all over the empire in well-to-do Viennese households saw the city’s cuisine take on a distinctly Eastern European flavor. Hungary contributed goulash, as well as the strudel, which it in turn had picked up from Turkey. Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic, contributed many of the city’s pastries (known as Mehlspeisen). In line with Bohemian tradition, heavy, sweet dishes such as pancakes and apricot dumplings are often served as a main course. The jewel in the Viennese culinary crown, the Wiener Schnitzel, is rumored to have reached the Austrian capital from Istanbul via Venice and Milan.

The taste of Vienna

Viennese cuisine is famous for its clear soups, which are traditionally served as a starter. The broth is usually made from a tasty beef, bone and vegetable stock that is simmered for hours. Various extras are then added such as Frittaten (finely sliced savory pancakes), Leberknödel (liver dumplings) and Griessnockerl (semolina dumplings). The world-famous Wiener Schnitzel is a tender flat veal cutlet, coated in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and pan-fried in butter and oil to a perfect golden brown. It typically comes with potato salad, but is also served with boiled potatoes or a side salad (e.g. cucumber, tomato or green salad). The Viennese passion for deep-fried dishes is not just confined to Wiener Schnitzel. Other staples to be tossed in breadcrumbs and added to the fryer include chicken pieces (Backhendl), liver, fish, and vegetables. While there are endless debates among the city’s residents as to which restaurant or pub cooks the best Schnitzel, one thing is clear – there are plenty of candidates to choose from!

Tafelspitz is no less well-loved in the city. None other than Emperor Franz Joseph declared this slow-boiled, tender cut of beef his favorite, and he is rumored to have eaten it almost every day. It is served with a staggering array of side dishes such as apple and horseradish, chive sauce, green beans with dill, creamed spinach, and Erdäpfelschmarren (plain boiled potato pieces fried in butter or lard). Another traditional favorite, Goulash, can be found on the menu at every self-respecting Viennese restaurant. To make this authentic Hungarian ragout-style stew, braising beef is cut into large chunks, fried with onions and seasoned with sweet paprika powder (ground dried red peppers) before being simmered until soft. Rostbraten is another staple that crops up on virtually all of the city’s menus. Depending on the chef’s preference, a special cut of beef is either flash fried or braised on a low heat.

Viennese cuisine has a particular soft spot for offal, which crops up in dishes such as Beuschel (a ragout made from heart and lungs) and pan-fried or breaded liver. A whole host of simple down-to-earth dishes – known locally as Hausmannskost – include Schinkenfleckerln (small, square pasta shapes mixed with ham), Blunzengröstl (potatoes pan-fried with blood sausage and onions), or fried dumplings. And then there’s the sausages, which are ideal for eating on the fly at one of the capital’s countless sausage stands. Options range from Frankfurter (known in the US as wiener) with sweet or spicy mustard and horseradish; Käsekrainer (a pork sausage stuffed with cheese); Debreziner (smoked sausages with paprika) or Burenwurst (a coarse cut boiled sausage).

In Vienna’s restaurants sweet dishes and sumptuous examples of the fine art of the patissier are not necessarily reserved for the end of the meal. Here, rich warm desserts known as Mehlspeisen, which would elsewhere pass for a dessert, can, in fact, double up as a main course. Favorites include Palatschinken (thin pancakes filled with sweet marmalade or jelly), Kaiserschmarren (shredded doughy pancakes with compote), Marillenknödel or Zwetschkenknödel (quark dumplings filled with apricot or plum jam), Buchteln (sweet yeast dough rolls filled with jelly), Powidltascherl (pastries filled with plum jam) and delicious strudel. To make apple strudel, simply roll quark or finely chopped apple pieces in a sheet of thin filo pastry and bake in the oven.

Sachertorte, Gugelhupf and more

The original Sacher Torte is without doubt the most famous cake in Vienna and the whole of Austria – and maybe even the world. This fluffy chocolate cake with apricot jam and chocolate glaze is prepared at the legendary Hotel Sacher, behind the Vienna State Opera to a secret recipe dating back to 1832. The cake was invented by Franz Sacher, an apprentice chef employed by Prince Metternich’s household. Today, more than 360,000 of these cakes are made by hand each year. A third are eaten at the hotel itself, a third sold elsewhere and the remainder sent to cake lovers all over the world.

Lovers of cakes, strudels and pralines should make a beeline for Demel on Kohlmarkt in the old town. Visitors to the former Imperial court confectioner should be sure to check out the patissiers’ works of art in the shop window.

The fantastic creations to come out of the capital’s bakeries and patisseries are in a league of their own. All over town, display windows are laden with fineries such as Gugelhupf (bundt cake with raisins or chocolate) and specialties like Nussstrudel (nut strudel), Mohnkipferl (poppy seed cookies), Topfenkolatschen (quark-filled pastries), cream slices (crème patissiere sandwiched with puff pastry), Kardinalschnitten (sponge and coffee cream), filled donuts, or Rehruecken (chocolate and almond cake glazed with chocolate). Then there are all the cakes, including Sachertorte, Esterházytorte (sponge base with butter cream), Topfentorte (quark), Dobostorte (alternating layers of sponge and chocolate cream with caramel glaze) and – especially in the run up to Christmas – cookies of all shapes and sizes.

Altmann & Kühne is the place to go for exquisite pralines, with 50 different varieties to choose from. Chocolate lovers will find spectacular creations at Xocolat, and can take part in a chocolate workshop at Xocolat-Manufaktur. Finally, no visit to Vienna would be complete without Mannerschnitten – these Neapolitan wafers in the classic pink wrappers are available from the Manner store on Stephansplatz.

Sweet hotel souvenirs

Many of Vienna’s hotels have a selection of mouthwatering souvenirs in stock. Like its better-known counterpart, the Imperial Torte has its own secret recipe and a legend surrounding its creation. The cake is said to be the handiwork of a kitchen boy who baked a cake for Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1873, to mark the official opening of the Hotel Imperial on the Ringstrasse boulevard. It is made of layers of cocoa cream interspersed with almond pastry and marzipan, and glazed with chocolate. The Imperial Torte – like the original Sacher Torte – is also available to order online in a special wooden presentation box. Another classic example of the high art of Viennese cake-baking comes courtesy of the Grand Hotel Wien. The ingredients in the superbly succulent Grand Guglhupf – likewise prepared according to a top secret recipe – include butter, sugar, flour, eggs, red wine and cinnamon. It is available to enjoy at the hotel restaurant on Kärntner Ring, in a souvenir gift tin, or from the hotel’s online shop.

The Hotel Hilton Vienna, next to Stadtpark, pays homage to the famous Viennese Art Nouveau painter Gustav Klimt with its signature cake. Available in three sizes, the Klimt Torte is made without flour and is glazed with chocolate. Do & Co Hotel Vienna on Stephansplatz took inspiration from St. Stephen’s Cathedral on the other side of the square when it came up with the Domspitz. This chocolate and poppy-seed cake with damson jam and chocolate coating is presented in triangular packaging reminiscent of the roof tiles of the famous Viennese landmark. The Vienna Marriott Hotel’s Ringstrassen Torte takes its cue from Vienna’s showpiece Ringstrasse boulevard, bringing together a combination of sponge cake, raw marzipan, candied orange peel and hazelnut nougat. The recipe for the house cake created for Altstadt Vienna in the seventh district was provided by star chef Sarah Wiener, who is a regular guest at the hotel: her Otto Torte is a chocolate-covered chocolate cake decorated with a glacé cherry.

Lots of cafés have their own signature cakes and with this in mind Café Landtmann decided to team up with the designers at LUCY.D to create a new range, the Landtmann collection: classic cakes are individually packaged in unusual and creative outfits for birthdays, corporate events and weddings – with every item a one of a kind.

Where to find authentic Viennese cuisine

Good quality Viennese cuisine can be found all over the city, from award-winning five-star restaurants to the most simple and unpretentious of eateries – the traditional Beisl or pub/restaurant being a classic example. Seen in restaurant names all over Vienna, the term Beisl is thought to be derived from the Yiddish word bajiss meaning house. Typically, a Viennese Beisl will have a large bar area where the wine is chilled and draught beer is poured. More often than not it will feature dark, stained wood paneling, simple tables and chairs, and a mixed clientele. The Beisl has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years and has found its niche on the city’s urban restaurant scene as a down-to-earth place to enjoy great food. Its continued success comes courtesy of the legendary cozy atmosphere found in a traditional Viennese Beisl, plus the readiness of the people that own them to adapt well-loved dishes to people’s changing tastes.

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