Oh, sweet Vienna. You truly are sweet. If you’re anything like me, and you enjoy getting to know the culture throughout its food, here are my 5 favorite things you should not miss while in Vienna. But be warned and get your taste buds ready for a lot of cakes and sweets.
Being the foodie I am nowadays, and after having been discovering and admiring (or drooling over might be a better word?) French patisserie so much and for so long now, I thought it is a shame I have never really tried Viennese. While Vienna is so much easier for me to reach (it’s only a little over 3 hours drive), and I love her and miss her at least as much as Paris, if not more. And after all, it has so much in common with the Czech culture that it’s almost mandatory.
First, you might wanna stop at the famous Sacher Hotel for the most famous cake of them all – the Sacher torte. We decided to skip this one, as we were after more exciting stuff and let’s face it – you can’t eat that many cakes in just one and a half day. And chocolate cakes.. well, I do believe I’ve had the best one already in the UK anyway 😉 plus being the chocoholic I am and reading so many not so great reviews about Sacher torte from the fellow foodies and tourists alike, I am pretty sure it has been surpassed by now by so many other great chocolate cakes that you can get nowadays. Plus the lines are crazy. So, if you still want to get one, get prepared. Otherwise, you can opt for a slice in any other café, if you don’t mind it not being ‘the original’ (rumor has it the non-originals are even better).
We went for the exciting Esterházy torte instead which we had at Café Mozart.
This cake, originally from Hungary (oh, did I tell you how much I love Budapest for its cake shops?) is made of 5 thin layers of super soft almond dough and filled with butterscotch cream, with a white sugar glaze on top. Sounds like heaven? Well, it is. If you’re not heading to Budapest after your Vienna trip, make sure to have Esterházy torte here. It is a great way to get a taste of what the Hungarian patisserie is like.
Apple Strudel. As much as strudels are part of the Czech culture, too, there is nothing like the true Viennese Apfelstrudel. Have it at the Schönbrunn palace where you can also buy the tickets for the “Apfelstrudelshow”. Or just have it anywhere where they serve the Landtmann’s feine Patisserie cakes (as was also the case of the Café Mozart where we had the Esterházy torte). It is heavenly and can easily work as a substitute for lunch. Just sayin’.
Note: as much appealing as it may seem, I advise you not to have it with the vanilla sauce. It will ruin the strudel’s crust and hide its awesome taste as it will be literally drawn in a pond of sauce. Been there, done that. (plus it’s cheaper without it!)
While at Schönbrunn, I also had one of the typical Austrian sausages bought at the Easter Market there. However, if you’re travelling to Vienna at any other time of the year (and other than Christmas) there won’t be any markets to find. But it is fairly easy to get a sausage anywhere around Vienna, trust me! It’s on every menu. And once again, it is worth your attention – if you are into meat, that is. Compared to the Czech ones, which I don’t really like and hardly ever eat, these are much more meaty with a much greater taste. Simply delicious.
Doughnuts. There is not a doughnut as the other, I tell you that! Despite Viennese doughnuts being famous, I was a little sceptical about them being very different from the Czech ones as they look pretty much the same. But I was wrong. They are actually better than ours! Not so heavy, not so greasy, they taste more like if they were baked in the oven rather than fried and there’s much more tasty dough to them than in the Czech ones. So, make sure not to pass on these either and have them with apricot jam filling.
Kaiserschmarren. The Emperor Franz Joseph’s favorite meal – made from a pancake dough, with plums and apple puree. So simple, yet so lush! We had that at Hofburg Café because we happened to be there around lunch time and because where else to eat Emperor’s favorite meal than at his palace, right? For 9,5 Euros I gotta say you get a very generous portion which will keep you full for couple more hours of walking around this wonderfuly tasty city.
And finally, if you are a coffee person like me, you’re gonna love Vienna for its coffee specialties which you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Just a little warning – if you decide to go for one of their fancy coffees with alcohol and cream… believe me, they mean business with the alcohol. It is not just a dash that you’re hardly gonna taste. Quite the opposite. I actually felt slightly drunk afterwards (though I am no drinker at all) and probably having it on the full midday sun wasn’t the best of ideas either (as wasn’t having lunch there – definitely not for my face, which turned into a beautiful red after an hour on the sun while having our lunch. My nose especially. I ended up looking like Rudolph, the red nose reindeer. Only in spring.)
Apart from trying the Viennese delicacies, I was also eager to walk the streets of this beautiful city again, which once was the center of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
I’ve always loved it for its spectacular palaces and buildings that just about happen to be on every corner. Vienna always seemed so grand and monumental to me. And even if the city itself does not seem as big as in my childhood memories anymore, it is still equally impressive.
I love it for the love of its own traditions. For the taste of the empire and its grandeur which is still so vividly present everywhere. Like no time has passed really. But in the best sense.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Empress Sisi and read tons of books about her and loved the films with Romy Schneider. I’ve been also equally taken by the person of the Emperor Franz Joseph. And then there’s the music history – Strauss, Mozart… it’s all there. I mean, could you possibly ask for more? One of the most romantic cities in the world, if you ask me.
And I love its cakes 😉
If you want to get the glimpse of what it was like living in the center of the empire, make sure to put Vienna on your list.
As for me, I just wish every country took such a pride in their history, its traditions and its legacy. And to do so in such an elegant way. We Czechs surely have a lot to learn from the Viennese.