Sunday, 9 June 2013

Vienna Part IV: Taste and Sound

When you venture into a travel destination for the very first time, one of the most important aspects of it that you'll have to be slightly experimental about is the food. And it has to be the national food. Mr Tattler and I had two helpings of Vienna's Wiener schnitzel; the natural course was to finish off the meal with Austria's national dessert: sacher torte.
Sachertorte from Cafe Sacher at Hotel Sacher Wien. The cake is made up of two layers of dense chocolate sponge cake with apricot jam in the middle, wholly coated with dark chocolate icing, and served with whipped cream.

 Sachertorte was invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich. Franz Sacher was a 16-year-old apprentice to Prince von Metternich's personal chef, who fell ill on the day he was meant to whip up a special dessert for some very important guests. Only on his second year of training in Metternich's kitchen, Sacher was charged the serendipitous task.

Eduard Sacher, Franz Sacher's son, perfected the recipe and the cake was first served at Demel bakery then at Hotel Sacher which was established by Eduard in 1876.

Our first sachertorte experience had to be at Café Sacher which is part of Hotel Sacher Wien. The queue at the entrance was long but we quickly realised it was for tourists who wanted to buy the legendary cake to take home. We managed to get seats outside the cafe located just opposite the Vienna Opera House.

I must admit when I have a portion of chocolate cake, my taste buds prefer either plain chocolate or a double dose of it. Apricot jam on toast is an alternative or accompaniment to a savoury breakfast, but I'm not very keen to find it on my chocolate cake. So, don't get me wrong, the sachertorte was beautifully presented and the chocolate topping was heavenly, but Mr T and I agreed that his favourite apfel strudel still holds the scepter. Yes, the scepter and not the crown, because sachertorte is up there with Austria's finest.

The closest I had to a Wiener sausage was a German frankfurter at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. So while in Vienna, we made a date with one of the hotdog kiosks.
The vendor and I obviously didn't understand each other because he handed me something like the above photo when all I wanted was a spicy hotdog. So a hotdog in a baguette on one hand and a hotdog on the other, plus an Erdinger, my dinner (and midnight snack) was served.

Wiener sausage is distinctly served not between sliced-up bread, but tucked in  a hollowed-out white bread, with the top end not completely cut, to cover the hotdog if it's not longer than the bread.

I thought it was ingenious because the hotdog and all the toppings are intact. No more sloppy lunch!

Breakfast in a cafe at Naschmarkt
This was by far the lightest breakfast I've ever had. Mr T had already cracked the egg. I only ever have boiled eggs with tuna nicoise, so Mr T had this all to himself. Prosecco was served with coffee and orange juice. I don't drink much (only when provoked--yes I blame my drinking on others), let alone in the morning, but I traded in the boiled egg for Mr T's glass of prosecco. Two glasses of prosecco for breakfast? Out of character, but I was on holiday so that excused me.

24 years is a long time. So I met up with an old grade school classmate whom I haven't seen since 1989, who now lives in Vienna with her husband and son. The last time we saw each other was on our graduation day and have not heard from each other since--not until facebook came along. It was very thoughtful of her to give me some Austrian chocolate pistachio and a bottle of dry red wine. Zweigelt is a dark-blue type of grape first developed in 1922 and the most widely planted red wine variety in Austria. 

I don't normally post photos of anything gifted to me but this one's extra special because it's from a friend that I haven't seen for more than two decades, plus they're locally made.

I kept this box as a memento.

Now, you're most likely wondering why I suddenly have photos of graves. Mr T, a muso (but a horrible singer), found out while checking online what could be off the beaten Vienna, that Falco or Johann Hölzel was buried in the Zentralfriedhof or Vienna's central cemetery--the most famous and biggest among its 50. 

Falco probably doesn't ring a bell to some, but I'm sure you've heard of his worldwide hit Rock Me Amadeus.

We had plenty of time before our flight back to London so we hopped on the u-bahn for Simmering, in search of the below photo.

Falco's grave at the Zentralfriedhof 

But because I was the one reading the map, we ended up instead in a friedhof rather than the Zentralfriedhof.

 If you haven't come across my very first posts, let me tell you that scanning epitaphs and tombstones is my strange habit. The brief words about the departed give me a glimpse of who they were. Cemeteries also evoke the same peace and tranquility I get when I enter and leave an empty church.

I was instantly drawn to this grave. It belonged to a bygone era.

It had to be the name.

I love the clickety-clack of horses' hoofs on cobblestoned streets (click on the below video). It was raining the day we decided to tour Vienna on a carriage. It would have been lovely on a warm-ish day, towards the night traveling around town in style before automobiles became the norm.

Austria is a musician's country--the birthplace of Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The three, joined by Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms were all interred in Vienna. With its rich musical history, it's not surprising that buskers abound. 

On a leisurely walk around the city centre, we chanced upon this harpist who was just about to begin strumming a cover of Gotye and Kimbra's pop hit 'Somebody That I Used To Know'. I recognised the first notes immediately and we made a stop. I used to sing professionally and one of the joys of performing was having random audience pausing to listen and giving you their undivided attention. That's more than enough compliment.

When you have time to watch the video (best with head/ear phones so you can hear the crispness of the harp strings), you'll find out that he's more of an instrumentalist rather than a vocalist. Perhaps he improvised that the vocal quality was shaky and not hitting the right notes at times. He turned the pop song into a classical number with the help of the harp, with a jazzy injection via a vocal syncopation that I almost felt like catching the lyrics for him and arranging them in the correct note placement. His rendition was nonetheless moving as I felt the sincere regret in his voice. It's very rare that I hear someone play the harp live (the last time was in a wedding in 2007) so that, combined with being in such a historical and beautiful city, made me emotional. I wept. The harp, as some of you may know, is a political emblem for Ireland. To quash the resurgence of nationalism during the 1600s, the English ordered that harps be burned and harpers executed. Because harp music-playing techniques were always handed down orally, the absence of experts to pass on the tradition impelled its extinction. Catching a side glimpse of Mr T, I saw tears welling up.The harp stirred his love-hate connections with his Irish lineage.

He segued to the next song so I wasn't able to get his name to credit him. I went back after a further walk but there was a protest march I couldn't get near the fountain area where he played. So fingers crossed, he or his mates will get the chance to see this post or the video on you tube.

Vienna is consistently in the top 5 of the most liveable cities in the world. Comparing the  lists of the two reputable annual liveability rankings namely Mercer and Economist Intelligence Unit (Monocle lifestyle magazine now conducts an annual survey as well), Vienna is the only major city in the world that's included in the top 5 of all surveys. 

Language barrier aside and the prospect of starting all over again, I was very much impressed to move on from tourist to local. Who knows?

Missed out on the first 3 posts about Vienna? Click on the links for more.
Part I Vienna
Part II Vienna
Part III Vienna

And to my lovely readers who always kindly go through my posts but missed the trip to the Museum of Bags and Purses, click for Part I and Part II.


  1. I love Sacher.... and I love Vienna!!!!!
    Kisses honey!!!

    1. Good for you! Sachertorte's a tad too sweet for me, but the chocolate topping was beautiful.

      Have a lovely week babe x

  2. I have to admit that I don't really see what the fuss about sacher torte is...I find it too dry! Love Austrian food and think it much underrated - they do have the most amazing pastries that I only had once there and hasn't been as popular an export like the croissant! I can't wait to go to Vienna this summer now!x

    1. I must admit I prefer gooey and moist chocolate cake and preferably no citrusy filling.
      Forgot to include the breads from Nashmarcht. They're really lovely.
      Go on and enjoy Vienna in summer x

  3. oooh yum the torte looks delicious! So this is where I have to go to get a great torte is it?

    Mr T had a big breakfast there. Who are you kidding that you don't really drink.....only a true drinker could satisfy on two glasses of Prosecco for breakfast lol x

    1. Yup you have to go Cafe Sacher at Hotel Sacher. Or try the one from Demel bakery. They had a legal dispute on who should be sporting the logo, so they each made variations, but the original recipe's from Hotel Sacher. made me laugh with the drinking comment. I really can't. I fool everyone with ginger ale in between so I can carry on drinking the whole night without falling off stairs. Lol.

      Have a lovely week! x

  4. Yes, definitely experiment the food when on holiday always, that's the best part other than shopping,haha. Of course, as you know I love Austria, Vienna was so lovely when we were there. Buskers are some of my favourites in many cities, some are just incredibly talented.Enjoy the week dear. x/Madison

    1. I wanted to do some shopping but it wasn't on the agenda and budget. But I did see some lovely jewellery shops with affordable pieces. Was looking for some summery chandelier earrings.

      I love stopping to listen to buskers. Some are really very talented.

      Enjoy your week, too!

      MsMadge x

  5. I'm gone to inform my little brother, that he should also go to see this weblog on regular basis to obtain updated from latest news update.

    Feel free to surf to my site: todo suecia

    1. Thank you for that, and thank you for visiting.
      Have a good week :)

  6. Hi Madge, tnx for lovely comment!!!!
    Have a great start to the week!!!!

  7. What a great time you had! I haven't been lucky enough to visit Vienna but I do hope to some day. I understand what you mean about cemetaries - I find them very calm & peaceful and bizarrely a connection with people who've gone before us. x

    1. Really had a lovely time in Vienna and I'm so pleased that my posts about it seem to be inspiring others to visit the city as well one day.
      Between a church and a cemetery, I prefer visiting the latter. Very calming indeed.
      Have a lovely week x

  8. Lovely post! We clearly have the same taste in food when travelling:) it is a big deal. And I looove Mozart kugeln. Thanks for sharing! xo Caroline

    1. I would love to go to Brussels too, like you just did! I was thinking of taking the train via this route: London-Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam. Would be great if I have the time. Love train rides.
      Great to travel when you're companion loves eating too :)

      Have a lovely day Caroline x

  9. I loved reading this post - I left a comment earlier but it seems to have vanished! The Sacher Torte story is fascinating and having had this delight at both the Hotel and at Demel, I still prefer straight chocolate cake!! Jenny

    1. Thanks Jenny! I remember you said you had sachertorte also in Vienna. Which was better, the one from Demel or Cafe Sacher? I do prefer full-on chocolate though, as you do.

      Never mind the previous comment, this time it made it here!

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Have a lovely day x

    2. I actually preferred the sachertorte at Cafe Sacher!!... but that could have been because of the setting and ambiance! xx

    3. Aha. So it'll have to be Cafe Sacher again next time I'm in Vienna. Or I'll recommend it to everyone else :)

      Thanks Jenny x

  10. I do like to sample the local delicacies when travelling and I'm a fan of the wonderful Sachertorte. I've stayed in Salzburg but Vienna is still on my must -visit list and when I get there the first thing I'll do is visit Café Sacher.
    Thank you for your lovely comment too. I did in fact buy a little white flower coronet but I don't think I have a picture of it!

    1. Cafe Sacher is close to Karlsplatz station and opposite end of Stephansplatz. Easy to find as it's just next to the Vienna State Opera House. Make sure you go when in Vienna and sit outside :)

      Oh shame about the flower coronet. It would have been nice to see it worn.

      You're welcome miss b. Till next time :D


  11. Ms Madge...u do like cemeteries...and to find Vienna sausage & Falco in one post! My German mother n law sends us those chocolates in the same lovely box.
    Now a tech issue...I am following u through Blog lovin and I do not always get your posts. Not sure how one would look into that, but maybe you can. I will double double check it on my end too.

    1. I didn't even realise that about Falco and Vienna sausage in one post. You are controversial Kelly :D
      I'm not a pistachio fan but I do like those chocolates. I saved the wrapper. Don't know when I'll use that but they're pretty :)
      Hmmm...I don't know what's wrong but it seems everything and everyone I follow on bloglovin are updated. I did reset my feedburners though as some subscibers are not receiving email updates, but that's independent from bloglovin.
      Please check and I'll check too.

      Have a lovely weekend!


  12. Hi dear! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment :) you're so lucky you get to travel to Vienna! I have family out there, but I have still yet to visit all of Europe. The food looks amazing, especially the torte! I agree, whenever you travel, you should definitely try the national foods. It's the best part!

    Just followed you on Bloglovin ;)
    hashtagphoebe on bloglovin

    1. Hey Phoebe,

      Thanks for stopping by! You should go to Vienna if you've got family there. I love to eat so trying out a country's traditional delicacies is a must!

      Thanks again Phoebe. Have a lovely weekend!

      MsMadge x


Thank you for reading. Your turn; let me know your thoughts :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...