Vienna: Summer and Winter

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Viennese specialties to try

Wine – In addition to its own wines, Vienna is near several large wine producing regions, including the Wachau region in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), and the Burgenland. wein Try a Grüner Veltliner (white) or Zweigelt (red).

Desserts – Salzburger Nockerl is a vanilla dessert soufflé, so heavenly it inspired at least one song.  Sacher Torte is a chocolate cake so important to the city that a lawsuit dragged out over 50 years about rights to the name.  Powiderltascherl are pockets of sweetened potato dough filled with plum jam and covered with roasted breadcrumbs.  Marillenknödel are curd cheese dumplings filled with apricot, covered in breadcrumbs and roasted in butter.  Palatschinken are crèpes (thicker than the French variety) filled with Marmalade, curd cheese, chocolate, or nuts.

Main course – Wiener Schnitzel, made with veal, should cover the plate and you should be able to cut through it like butter. zwiebel roastbraten Wiener Zwiebel Rostbraten is steak smothered in onions.  For lighter fare, try a pair of Frankfurter wurst (sausage), which, in a strange twist, Germans call Wiener.  A bowl of Frittatensuppe (broth with sliced up Palatschinken) or Grießnockerlsuppe (with little dumplings) is quite satisfying.  Although technically a dessert, Kaiserschmarrn, literally the Emperor’s Nonsense, are thick pancakes shredded and sprinkled with raisins and sugar, served with plum kompott, is a marvelous main course as well.

Bier – Gösser and Stiegl are my favorites and you’ll probably want to find a source for them when you get home (same goes for the Austrian wines, I should add).  DSC_0586It is increasingly easy to find a selection of Austrian beer and wine in the States both at restaurants and in shops.

Kaffee – In the 1300+ cafés in Vienna, all coffee in Vienna is served with a small glass of Viennese water on the same tray.  Großer and Kleiner Schwarzer or Mokka, large or small espresso black.  Großer and Kleiner Brauner, the same but served with milk, by custom in a tiny jug on the tray. Wiener Melange, half espresso, half hot frothy milk.  A Fiaker, black coffee with rum, named after Vienna’s famous horse-drawn carriages.  A Kapuziner is a small Mokka with a few drops of whipped cream, making the coffee the color of a Capuchin monk’s robe. An Eiskaffee is cold coffee with ice cream and whipped cream served in a tall glass, perfect for a hot summer day.

How to get there

You can connect via Austrian Airlines from almost every major city in Europe and the airline has direct flights from New York and Washington to Vienna.  Upon arrival, “fly the CAT,” the City Air Train, into the city center (Landstraße) in 16 minutes.  Roundtrip fare is  €16.  And keep your boarding pass as it’s good for free or reduced admission or other benefits at museums and shops around the world.


–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.

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