During a 10-day trip to Vienna, Austria and Prague, in the Czech Republic, Ample Bites had the opportunity to sample authentic cuisine and local versions of Italian favorites. Today’s post will focus on the food and sights of Vienna.
Viennese cuisine includes large amounts of pork, veal and chicken in various preparations. These proteins are usually accompanied with cabbage, potatoes, and hearty rye breads. In Vienna, the authentic dishes we sampled were a couple different types of pork schnitzel and wurst, a long, skinny sausage resembling a frankfurter or American hot dog.
The pork schnitzel is pounded flat and either breaded and fried or sauteed in oil. Schnitzel can be found almost anywhere in Vienna. Ample Bites saw it in local restaurants; at the local grocery store deli counter; in McDonald’s and Starbucks; at the corner Wurstel Express; and in the local fast food chain, aptly named the Schnitzelhaus. Ample Bites did not sample schnitzel from all of these sources by I suspect there is a wide range of quality.
The Ample Bites had schnitzel at Schnitzelwirt, a restaurant touted by Frommer’s for its quality schnitzel and accompaniments. Schnitzelwirt did not disappoint. The breaded schnitzel was unexpectedly light and tender and an unbreaded, sauteed schnitzel finished with a brown gravy with garlic and parsley was very good. Schnitzelwirt served up more food than our party could possibly eat, which we washed down with cold beer and some of the local rotwein, or red wine.
During an afternoon visit to the Vienna Woods and neighboring wine gardens in and around Grinzing we enjoyed a few glasses of Blaufrankish, a red wine, and a sampling plate of local goat’s milk cheeses. The wine was not as dry as the cabernets and sirahs Ample Bites likes the most but it was very good and we ordered this red wine throughout our visit to Vienna.
When Ample Bites was not consuming local Viennese food our cuisine of choice happened to be Italian. We thoroughly enjoyed homemade pasta and gnocchi dishes with perfectly cooked fish at Firenze, located just off the heavily-traveled Stephansplatz.
Another favorite was Vapiano, best described as a made-to-order pizza and pasta bar, located near the famous Prater Park.
At Vapiano, we were each issued a blank credit card which we took to a counter where pizzas and calzones are made. Diners can order from a menu of choices or select individual ingredients for a custom pizza.
This option is also available at a pasta counter. Other counters offered salads and dessert items. And, finally beverages, including a nice wine selection, were available. To order, you simply selected your food and drink items. The prices are scanned to the cards which are paid off at the end of the meal.
At each table was extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil and rosemary. The pizzas and calzone where perfectly baked in pizza ovens and were ready for pick-up after 10 – 12 minutes, which told Ample Bites that the oven was cranking out 700 – 1000F.
During a sightseeing lunch break for some thin crust pizza and a beer, Ample Bites sampled the Viennese version of sausage pizza. The sausage used was the wurst or frankfurter, which was a bit surprising at the time but in retrospect … not so much.
Another abundant food choice in Vienna is broadly categorized as Asian. This category is extremely broad and included everything from Indian to sushi. Ample Bites chose not to partake in sushi, which is a favorite our mine back in the States. A sampler plate of Indian food at Machu Machu included falafel and schwarma served with the usual pita bread and not so usual Viennese-style cabbage.
Ample Bites craved a salad entree on several occasions and found a few that truly “hit the spot”.
If you visit Vienna and have cooking facilities you can take advantage of a fantastic market that offers ingredients, seasoning, oils and herbs of all types. You can find out more about the Naschtmart in an upcoming Ample Bites post.