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Posts from the ‘Vienna’ Category


I had no idea that open-faced sandwiches were a
thing in Austria. (Denmark, sure.) They are part of the draw at Zum Schwarzen
Kameel's lauded bar
, which I didn't have time to visit. With minutes to spare
at the train station, I picked up the chain version from Trzesniewski, a fine
enough stand in.

Trzesniewski duo

Choosing based on looks alone, I ended with chopped salmon,
paprika (in the Hungarian sense where paprika is the spice and the red pepper,
itself), mushrooms and pickles, bolstered by cream cheese and hard boiled eggs,
all on thin dark bread. More like canapes than fast food, the dainty wedges
classed up the train trip back to Budapest.

Trzesniewski * Multiple Locations, Vienna, Austria

Gasthaus zur Oper

There is only so much you can do, i.e. eat, while in
Vienna for 24 hours. There is no question, though, that wiener schnitzel must
make an appearance. It’s in the name, right?

Gasthaus zur Oper, airy and modern and nearly Scandinavian
in feel with its blonde wood and  white
on white color scheme, is not necessarily where you’d expect to find fried
cutlets. Or where I would, at least, having imagined the traditional dish in
homey but dowdier surroundings.

Gasthaus zur oper schnitzel

And their version is top notch: a wrinkly golden-crisp
exterior with no trace of grease, pan-fried in clarified butter. Though pork is
popular in the US and veal is traditional in Vienna, and definitely the
most-ordered thing at Gasthaus zur Oper, this specimen happened to contain
thinly pounded liver. Yep, liver. The schnitzel treatment works well for the
strongly flavored organ meat; it can take the breading without disguising its
true nature (I was originally given the veal ordered at my table and there was
no mixing up the two after first bite.)

Gasthaus zur oper table

The cold potato salad was in a light, refreshing
style, tart with lemon juice and creamy without the use of mayonnaise with
minced red onion for a little more bite. I’ve never eaten schnitzel in its
natural habitat (Berlin being the closest) so the accompaniments were
surprising: lingonberry jam for sweetness (I thought that was more Nordic) and
a glass bottle containing a mysterious sauce that turned out to be concentrated
pan drippings, beef, I’m guessing. Gravy and berries work just as well for
schnitzel as for Swedish meatballs.

Gasthaus zur Oper * Walfischgasse 5-7, 1010, Vienna,


More smitten with Asia than Europe (and unaware of the now-gone NYC location) I'll admit that
I had never heard of Demel (or Demel's, as Americans like to say, oh, and even literary Czechs) the 226-year-old
Austrian coffeehouse, until it came up a few years ago when the Franks name-dropped
it in describing then new Cafe Pedlar.
And because I'm a crank it felt
ludicrous to suggest a Court Street cafe could be anything like a Viennese
stalwart, though unsurprising in its Brooklyn-ness.

And because I have an unshakable grade-schooler devotion
to the color green (do adults care about best friends and favorite colors?) the
most important piece of this Demel discovery was that that there was a place in
the world serving a bright green cake shaped like a dome and that one day it
would have to be eaten by me (and that there are no copyright-free photos
demonstrating this amazing pasty case with the green cake on Flickr–not that
that has ever stopped anyone from using my photos without even an attribution).

Demel cake  case

Unfortunately, on my last-minute visit to Vienna
(Budapest was already a spur of the moment idea with little research, and I
hadn't realized Vienna was less than three hour away by train) the green cake
was not on display. I don't imagine it's a greatest hit, especially when competing with more famous sachertorte or dobostorte.

Demel cabinet

Instead of
a glorious whole confection in the case, there were just a few errant slices
and a dummy cake up on a high shelf in a dark glare-proudcing glass cabinet.

Demel cake selection

I had heard nightmarish stories about being seated
upstairs after a very long wait in line, having to fight your way back down to
the main entrance to pick out your slices and have them written down for you to
bring up to your waitress (they are all women) and then wait for the sweets to

Demel chocolate cake

There was a poorly organized line that was being cut
with no consequence, however, the wait wasn't more than five minutes and there
is a young woman with a selection of cakes in an annex on the second floor (in
the American sense–I can't call something up stairs the first floor) so it's
not that much trouble. There would've been trouble if a green slice was absent,

Demel cake list-001

I could make out the very un-German, casatta, and
still can't determine the name of the browner, cookie-adorned and gianduja-fillled slice I also
picked out (above). Who cares? It's not green.

Demel casatta slice

Ok, casatta? That green slice is totally Italian, or more
specifically Sicilian, and a staple of many NYC bakeries, often as mini
cherry-topped single serves. There's nothing Viennese about the fluffy sweet
ricotta center suspending candied fruit and surrounded by a layer of liqueur-soaked
sponge and a smooth blanket of  almondy
marzipan. I traveled blank miles for something I could've gotten in Carroll
Gardens? (Or at Ikea, sort of. Princesstårta has a different flavor profile,
but also is a bulbous torte covered in green marzipan.)

Demel dome

Maybe the casatta has been adopted as an ode to the oxidized
domes of the Hofburg Palace across Michaelerplatz from Demel.

I guess the non-Austrian nature of this cake
shouldn't have been so surprising. Wienerschnitzel, the most iconic dish in
town, is essentially scaloppine. Now that I know the green cake is Italian, I want
the best casatta (green-only) in NYC. Villabate? Where else? Now may be the
rare instance where I regret moving out of an Italian-American neighborhood.

Demel * Kohlmarkt 14, Vienna, Austria

Photo of Demel sign via bestbig&tucker on Flickr