Featured Guest Post by world traveler and blogger Claire Lovesti who shares her love of Austria with insanely delicious cuisine from such a unique country. You can find more about Claire and follow along in her worldy adventures on her amazing travel blog, Traveltio!
7 Culinary Wonders of Austria
Let’s set the record straight; you don’t get to be the top of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, ruling the world and such, on Frosted Flakes. It just doesn’t happen. You’re going to need something a little heartier to brave the world outside your front door, and the culinary masterpieces that resulted from the Austrian takeover are downright delicious.
Don’t believe me? you’ll just have to go on a taste tour yourself and find out firsthand. Check out my picks for the best grub in the Eastern Realm.
1. Apple Strudel
Definitely the most popular of Viennese food, the apple strudel is not to be missed when you are in the homeland of its origin. Flaky, butter dough and sweet apple filling…who could possibly resist? Grab a table and a coffee at Cafe Landtmann—a popular place for this pastry since 1873—and satisfy your taste for the first of many Austrian delicacies.
2. Sacher Torte
For the fans of truly decadent style, the sacher torte—invented in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna—is the way to go. You can take it traditional (covered in sweet apricot preserves) or plain, with just the rich, chocolate dessert to set your tastebuds on a sugar rush. The Hotel Sacher Vienna is the only known holder of the original recipe, so head there for a taste of a royals favorite dessert. Trust me, it doesn’t disappoint.
3. Alpine Goulash
Goulash has the same connotation for the Viennese that macaroni and cheese has for Americans; it is the ultimate comfort food. Borrowed from the Hungarians, the traditional recipe in Austria has many variations—from thick, gravy style to the stew types—so getting the best of the best is really just a matter of preference. Try the Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper in Vienna; it’s a traditional-style, family-owned and operated establishment that really knows it’s way around a recipe.
4. Wiener Schnitzel
One of Austria’s favorite dishes, and certainly becoming a sightseeing must-do in and of itself, the weiner schnitzel has taken over the country as the Austrian version of fish and chips. The bread-crusted veal dish originally came from a modified Italian recipe, but the Viennese have made it all their own. Head to Figlmüller to taste the specialty exactly the same way people were noshing on it over one hundred years ago. In this case tradition isn’t tedious, it’s just delicious.
5. Kaspress Knodel
Kaspress Knodel…try saying that 5 times fast! But the savory fried cheese dumplings have been mainstays on the Austrian main course menu for a very long time. Head out of Vienna for this treat and into the taste center that is the Tirol region for a taste of their kaspressknodel (spelled both ways) made with “grey cheese,” also known as Graukäse. It’s a local favorite take on a national tradition and it’s too tasty to miss. Any local pub will serve it crispy and just right, so turn on your GPS locator and log into Trip Advisor to get a hint on where to head. Not wanting to turn on your roaming for fear of going over your global plan? Ditch it for a SIM card instead, all you have to do is prep your phone first; it’s that easy and it’s cheap!
6. Marzen Lager
While the Austrians are known worldwide for their beer in general—and you should taste test as much as possible while you are there—the one that you absolutely cannot miss is the Marzen Lager. This ale is a favorite at Oktoberfest and other beer festivals throughout the year, and it’s crisp, dark red coloring is known as the Vienna style and is popular in the US during the fall months even though it is named for March, when it is brewed. But even if you’ve tasted something claiming it’s Marzen Lager while at home, don’t trust it, and grab a pint while abroad—you won’t regret it.
7. Viennese Breakfast
The hipsters in Brooklyn and trust fund Manhattanites may think they invented the Sunday Brunch, but if you come to Europe, everyone knows it’s the favorite morning tradition of the Viennese. With everything from goulash (breakfast edition) to the famous steak tartare on the menu, the “traditional” Viennese breakfast has taken on many incarnations in its namesake city, and you’re just going to have to try them all (ok, all is excessive, but at least more than once) to get an idea of what exactly makes brunch in Vienna such a must. Head to Meinl am Graben for an early morning treat, or to Ulrich for something totally decadent.
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or an afternoon brew, the Austrians are known for having a way with the kitchen and you’re just going to have to take my advice and go out and taste it to see!