Relaxing in the sun, overlooking the Viennese wine country I take a sip from my elderberry sparkling wine and wait for the waiter to bring our traditional lunch to the table. We’ve ordered a Würstl sausage with mustard and it arrives with a dense rye bread and a mound of shredded cheese. “Let’s get amongst it” I declare to my husband and slice off a piece of sausage, add some cheese to my fork, dip it into the mustard and pop it in my mouth.
Instantly my brain is whirring as if it’s on fire. A zinging sensation runs along my sinuses over my skull and down my spine. My eyes tighten shut as my brain scrambles for an answer of what’s happening. I can’t breathe, I can’t talk (a probable first for me) and I’m gasping for air. Skip breaks into hysterical laughter upon witnessing my pain, he seems to know something I don’t. As the pain subsides I’m frowning at him now still unsure of what just happened. He’s still laughing as he says “Honey you just inhaled a huge tablespoon of grated horseradish. Maybe you should reconsider getting amongst it!”
It’s fair to see this is the only time Austrian food surprised me. The boiled meats, bland vegetables and even the schnitzels were underwhelming, but this isn’t a blog about critiquing food. It’s about sharing the best places we’ve eaten so that others can enjoy the same culinary satisfaction that we have. So, the positives…the Austrian’s make great sweets, they’re considerate of your hydration and serve a glass of water with every coffee, their lagers are crisp, golden and cheap and there is plenty of international cuisine to feast on!
Hasir – Turkish cuisine
The Turks are the third largest ethnic group in Austria and they did the country a huge favour by bringing their delicious fare along with them. The cold appetizer has three tasty dips of hummus, green onion salsa and dill yoghurt along with olives and dolma. The sausage pide is packed with gorgeous garlic flavour, I LOVED it, but you might want avoid it if you’re on a first date! The mixed grill plate has a medley of lamb, beef and chicken that comes with salad and either rice or chips. They also have the best falafel I’ve ever eaten. After your meal the hospitable staff will offer you a traditional alcohol aperitif called Rakia, a potent anise liqueur. The Rakia isn’t quite as hospitable, I liken it to drinking hot gasoline. Avoid the Rakia but definitely visit Hasir’s.
Ullmann’s – cafe
We struck it lucky with this little gem, located opposite the hotel and the location for many hours of blog writing and re-writing. A simplistic and modern interior fit out of grey, white and yellow with minor pops of purple here and there. Set breakfasts are fantastic with the New Yorker being my go to fave. A bagel with cream cheese, scrambled eggs and chives, a glass of juice and an espresso for euros 5.70. Add a side of bacon for only 1.5 euros. (No wonder my clothes aren’t fitting) My only advice is try the food before you add salt, I learnt the hard way by salting already well salted scrambled eggs – wince. The front cabinet is a rainbow of cakes, pastries, hand-made chocolates and open sandwiches lined up and ready to be eaten.
Li’s Cooking Asia Dream – Asian fusion
We ate here six times in six weeks, enough said. Located in Naschmarkt, the menu is super affordable and the food is sublime! Diners receive complimentary long cylindrical gyozas and a piece of sushi called ‘Japan girl’ with crispy tempura prawn inside, rice and seaweed on the outside, rolled in sesame seeds with a slice of salmon sashimi on top with mango sauce drizzled all over it…drool, this dish is heavenly. Assemble your own duck pancakes, try the pineapple fried rice or crispy king prawns with a salted shallot crumb and you will be oohing and ahhing the whole time. Tapioca beads with coconut milk is a complimentary dessert. They aren’t open Sundays so plan ahead. No need to book and you can sit inside or out. (Special thanks to the lovely Jeni Dennison for her pic of the sushi and sashimi boat below.)
Stiegl Keller – Salzburg
From Vienna travel west for 3 hours by train to arrive at quaint little Salzburg. Walk towards the eye-catching Festung Hohensalzburg, a fortress built in 1077, take the cable car up the mountain and get a fantastic view of Salzburg while you’re here. There are signs for Stiegl Keller so follow those and you will find yourself in a lovely outdoor courtyard enjoying some very nice golden lagers. The potato rosti with smoked salmon and caper berries was one of the best meals I had in Austria. More to come on Salzburg in my next post for Fork and Fiction!