Vienna, Austria

Firstly, I would like to apologize for the lack of blogs, due to homework. You may thank school, homework, and extracurriculars. I am sure, you all have a lot of work to do as well, which is why I am extraordinarily grateful that you take the time to read our blog. This is why I will try my very, very, very best to make this blog a very special one. A very special one indeed.

For my fall break (a week before Karsen’s which was why I got to go), I got to explore the super ginormously vast (As Mr. Deshler my 5th grade Geography teacher would say) area of Eastern Europe. Mommy had some boring grownup conference in Prague, but before that we went on a mother-daughter trip to Vienna and Budapest (if all goes well, you should see Budapest and Prague posts soon!).  We were fortunate enough to experience so much in each of the cities – our experiences are too numerous to document but I would like to present a few highlights.

One of the highlights of our Vienna trip was the Spanish Lippizzaner Horses, which are dark black when they are young, then turn brown, then white with grey spots, and then, in the last and final stage, white. Emperor Maximilian II of Austria, brought these beauties to Spain. Many princes attended both the Winter and the Summer Spanish Riding Schools. Seeing these horses brought memories from a certain book, Black Beauty. We attended their “morning exercise” and had the chance to witness these beautiful horses in action. Trot, canter, gallop, quadrille, walk, and dance. Very graceful. Karsen and I both go horseback riding and understand the challenge required to keep a horse’s head straight. However, all of these horses keep their heads straight -without any struggling from the rider. (These horses were also not allowed to poop during the morning exercise. If they did, the arena was cleaned up immediately) All of the riders and horses went through extensive training.

These horses are probably the best kept and most spoiled horses in the world. One downside to seeing the horses was that photos were not permitted. That is why we cannot show you a picture of our own of these beautiful beasts. Here is a picture that came online:

As you can plainly see, the brown one is young, and the white is full grown. This was one of the highlights of our trip, and we told all about it to Ms. Marriette, our excellent horseback riding teacher back in the wild west.

I would like to conclude with a delicious michelin-starred meal at Steirereck.  This restaurant has two michelin stars, a delightful bathroom, and an excellent fine dining experience. And, especially, a small creative touch at the end of meals(I don’t want to give anything away, do I??).

The atmosphere of Steirereck was pleasing. Located in Stadtpark, parallel to a lovely river, this restaurant was modern but cute and comfortable. For a view of the ambiance, here is a picture of the table settings.

Soon afterwards, a staff member promptly brought us menus. If you would like to see a copy of one. Click on the link below.

The menu, of course, was an excellent menu (menu awesomeness is a science that I specialize in-as seen in previous posts); it explained everything clearly, and had new and interesting food words that I did not know before. The server who brought us the menus also made some delicious recommendations, which we were very pleased with. He also told me what the words I didn’t know actually meant.

The first amuse bouche was the elderberry and shallots. The elderberry was juicy, rich, and immensely sweet.

The second amuse bouche was uhudler grapes on hazelnuts. In case you were unfamiliar with the uhudler taste, it tasted somewhat like strawberries is often used to make wine. The hazelnuts added a nice touch, being slightly crispy.

The third amuse bouche (there are quite a few of them – lucky us!), was quite unusual. It consisted of a bittersweet stuffed carrot. The staff at Steirereck also gave mommy a viennese sparkling wine. They gave me a special non-alcholic-but-fizzy-grape-juice. It was WAY better than mommy’s, and even she agreed. But mommy’s wine was good too.

I will not talk much about the bread, because really the butter was ten times more amazing. The bread was crispy, and resembled Indian roti (see other posts). However, the bread paled in comparison to the butter.  There were four types of butter. The regular unsalted butter, sweet cream butter, walnut butter, and basil butter. I noticed a trend in E. European butters – they all seem to be freshly made, which you can tell by the whiteness, and they all seem to have many different varieties.

The bottom layer is the unsalted butter, the long skinny nutty brown one is the walnut, the curly green one is the basil, and the sort of white one is the sweet cream.

Our first dish was the char (a type of fish) with beeswax. It was very unusual the way they prepared it – in beeswax.

This was the way they cook the char. Right in front of us, they poured the vinegar and waited and waited. The beeswax then formed.

We videotaped the char being made, shown here:

St-char video

They then brought it back to the chef and the chef transformed it into a new and might I say, more appetizing presentation. (They boiled the yellow carrot, which I found quite unusual.)  I’m happy to report that the taste of the dish was as delicious as as it was interesting!  The char was perfectly cooked and flaked off!  Who knew that beeswax was a great cooking device?!

The next dish we had was the warm artichoke salad. The artichoke skin was rolled up with herbs on top. Creamy, but not much of an artichoke taste. I thought the presentation was more impressive than the taste. Mommy LOVED the salad and was pleased that the server recommended it.  It looked like this:

Next were the way more satisfying grilled tubers and shoots. I am not a fan of caviar, but if you are, like Karsen, I am sure you would find the base of this dish quite delicious. I found the tubers quite good, especially since they made it look so appetizing. Here is a picture of the tubers:

Next were the Crayfish with parsnip strudel and lime. The crayfish was excellent, but if you’re a foodie like me, then you will also notice the parsnip strudel. The strudel was slightly crunchy on the inside, and smooth on the outside (as seen in the photograph below).

Poached in coconut sauce, the catfish was exceptional. The water chestnuts were a nice touch, as they go well with the coconut taste and give a crunch. If you like coconut, well lets just say it’s an overflow of coconut taste. That’s where the water chestnuts come in handy. Oh, the art of food. I know you’re thinking I must be completely out of my mind when I say that, because food is not art. But actually it is. Steirereck’s food was among the most artistic I’ve ever eaten (wait until you see the jewelry dessert – coming up!).

The turbot with romanesco (tastes a lot like cauliflower) was delicious also – but not as good as the char or the catfish.  I would have preferred turbot with coconut sauce, rather than the chickpeas.  Oh well!

Then they gave us a hot towel, as shown here:

I am very grateful when they do that, because it wakes me up. (Shhh…don’t tell anyone…I get sleepy sometimes…it’s no secret)

For dessert I got the wild strawberries with elderflower and meringue. The yogurt ice cream was topped with what looked like marshmallows but is actually meringue. This was one of my highlights. The elderflower was very sweet, and looks kind of like onion. It is the best part of this dish. The strawberries were the kind of teeny tiny very sweet honey tasting strawberries that we used to get in Paris. Here is a picture:

Mommy had the crispy crepes with medlar, a japanese peach. The crepes, beautifully presented, were also stuffed with medlar and were topped with sprinkled sugar.

Mommy said that good restaurants often have cool restrooms. Of course, like a normal daughter, I rolled my eyes and felt that this idea was absolutely ridiculous. However, persuaded by my eager and curious mother, I reluctantly walked to the bathroom to see how “awesome” it was. Surprisingly, it was one of the most interesting public bathrooms I’ve ever seen.  Would you like to see it?  Are you completely and totally positively sure that you want to see it? Here it is!

After coming back from the bathroom, a rolling table with jewelry on it arrived at our table. Mommy was confused because she thought they were going to try to sell us jewelry. This was not the case. The jewelry was actually complimentary chocolates! Here is an assortment of the “jewelry” they gave us. On the tray they had rings and necklaces that looked so real we were surprised to find it was chocolate!

All in all, I think this place was very creative in their way of presenting the food and with combining new and interesting tastes.

As usual here is my smiley face rating:

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Although these were my favorite places in Vienna, there are also many other places worth seeing that I would recommend. These include Mozarthaus, the Vienna Opera house where we watched Madame Butterfly, and the Hofburg Palace, where the Sisi Museum is located. Sisi was a Viennese empress married to King Franz Joseph, both memorable rulers. Mozarthaus was the place where composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived when he composed the famous “Marriage of Figaro”. Madame Butterfly was an opera about a Japanese lady married to an American soldier. After the war,her husband returned to America and promised to come back for her.  Instead, he married another woman and started a new life.  Meanwhile, Butterfly had his son and eagerly awaited his return. When the soldier finally returned to Japan, he realized that he mistreated butterfly.  In the end, Butterfly killed herself in grief. Finally, the Hofburg Palace is where the museums, and more importantly, the famous Lippizanner horses are located.

In Vienna, I learned a lot about Viennese rulers and their lifestyles, developed new taste buds, and learned about new Viennese foods like gooseberries. Again, sorry for the blog delay, and thanks for keeping up and reading!

p.s.  I forgot to mention (how could I forget??), we also made sure we sampled wiener schnitzel (at Figlmueller and Restaurant Bristol, formerly known as Korso) and all of the top 10 desserts from the top 10 cafes (listed in Eyewitness Travel Guide on vienna –  Figlmueller’s wiener schnitzel is world famous – with hour-long lines during offpeak hours!  Here’s Figlmueller’s website – and as you can see from their pictures, one wiener schnitzel is 23 cm. in diameter!!!!  Bristol’s wiener schnizel is widely known as the best in town – their website is: