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Posts from the ‘Austria’ category

My Vienna: Habsburg favourite Tafelspitz, at Plachutta Hietzing

What appears to be a plate of slow simmered beef is anything but “simple”.

Tafelspitz is a dish with a lot going on,” said Austrian chef Kurt Gutenbrunner to the New York Times in 2002. “It’s hot, cold, spicy, creamy, crunchy and soft.”

Eaten daily by Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830-1916), the dish is well-known among Vienna favourites. Among members of the Jewish community of the time, the Tafelspitz was a beloved symbol of assimilation in late 19th-century/early 20th-century Vienna.

Reading about the description for Tafelspitz brings about a sharp childhood memory of a soup made by Mum. Tender chunks of chuck roast, accompanied by carrots, potatoes, celery, shards of ginger root, and often with apple to provide extra sweet; cooked slow and simmering in a huge pot on the stovetop for hours. The resulting soup was a meal on its own, or served as a final course at dinner.

Plachutta is well-known among the Viennese for making some of the best Tafelspitz in the city. A big Plachutta is located centrally in the inner city, but I head west to the city’s 13th district for their original Stammhaus location in Hietzing. It’s fitting somehow that the Hietzing location is close to the Habsburg summer palace at Schönbrunn.

The images show a wonderful spread with the Tafelspitz dish with my choice of the Tafelspitz or rump steak cut. I started with the long slow simmered soup broth, ladled out into a bowl with big chunks of egg frittata. And provided within a bowl of soup are the specific details of family: nourishing, caring, satisfying.

After a section of slow-cooked bone is presented, I spread the soft gelatinous marrow onto slices of toasted dark bread, topped with salt and pepper. Next, slices of moist tender slow-cooked beef are laid onto a plate, along with crunchy fried potatoes, creamed spinach, apple-horseradish sauce, and chive sauce.

Certainly, I paid a little more for the meal, but the Plachutta Tafelspitz was a great dining experience, providing a new memory of Viennese cuisine, combined with a family memory of Cantonese-style home-cooked food.


Tafelspitz, Plachutta Hietzing, Plachutta, 13. Bezirk, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

Plachutta Stammhaus Hietzing is at Auhofstrasse 1, about 5 minutes on foot from Schönbrunner Schlosspark’s northwest gate, Hietzinger Tor.

Tafelspitz, Plachutta Hietzing, Plachutta, 13. Bezirk, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

Restaurant seating.

Tafelspitz, Plachutta Hietzing, Plachutta, 13. Bezirk, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

My table near the front door.

Tafelspitz, Plachutta Hietzing, Plachutta, 13. Bezirk, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

Tafelspitz dish, the complete spread. The soup and marrow are starters; the “main event” is still in the big soup pot.

Tafelspitz, Plachutta Hietzing, Plachutta, 13. Bezirk, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

Beef marrow, scooped and spread on toasted dark bread, and topped with salt and pepper.

Tafelspitz, Plachutta Hietzing, Plachutta, 13. Bezirk, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

Tafelspitz dish, with the Tafelspitz cut. “It’s hot, cold, spicy, creamy, crunchy and soft.”

Plachutta, Rindfleisch, Rindfleischschnitte, Plachutta Stammhaus Hietzing, 13. Bezirk, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

Rindfleischschnitte / beef cuts. The Tafelspitz cut is also known as the “rump (roast).”


Directions

•   Public transport with Wiener Linien: U4 to station Hietzing; then 0.5 km walk, or tram 10 or 60 to stop Dommayergasse.

My visit to Plachutta Stammhaus Hietzing was neither requested nor sponsored. I made all photos above on 3 Jun 2022 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-mSS.

My Vienna: an outsider’s view, from 1 to 23

Above/featured: Aspern lake at the Aspern Seestadt housing development in Vienna’s 22nd district. Visible in the background to the north are the Danube tower and the city’s hills. Photo, 7 Jun 2022.

From early-2002 to mid-2003, I lived and worked in Heidelberg, and I travelled to Vienna at least six times across all seasons for collaboration work between MPIA and the University of Vienna. Unfortunately, I didn’t own a camera, and I have zero images from that time. “Oiiida.”

After a 15-year pause, I returned to Vienna for one week in May 2018 for the 100-year anniversary of Vienna Modernism. I brought 2 cameras, and I made a few photographs here and there. I’ve always needed more, and four years later in May 2022, I stayed in Vienna for four weeks.

The historic bread- and pastry-making company, Anker, once had a motto known among the Viennese:

Worauf freut sich der Wiener, wenn er vom Urlaub kommt? Auf Hochquellwasser und Ankerbrot.
To what do the Viennese look forward after returning from vacation? Spring water and Ankerbrot.

For all of us who’re visitors to Vienna, I put forward the modified question:

Worauf freut sich ein(e) Besucher(in), wenn man nach Wien kommt?
To what does a visitor look forward in Vienna?

There are many answers for many people. There’s art, coffee, Jugendstil, music, wine; these are only five in a lengthy list. Vienna is more than a desirable visitor location; the city reclaimed the top spot in the The Economist’s EIU Global Liveability Index for 2022.

I got to explore at least one point of interest in each of the city’s 23 Bezirke or districts. Not only did I spend a lot of time in the inner city or 1st district, but I also made my fair share in the 6th, 9th, 18th, and 19th districts. Below I provide from each of the city’s 23 districts a couple of personal highlights which may be of interest to both resident and visitor. There are more interesting locations, about which I’ll describe separately in future posts.


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My Vienna: Beethovenhaus Heuriger Mayer am Pfarrplatz

Above/featured: “Beethovenhaus” Heuriger Mayer am Pfarrplatz. Pfarrplatz square, Heiligenstadt, in Vienna Döbling (19.)

26 May 2022.

It’s a nation-wide holiday on the 26th of May (2022): Ascension of Christ (Christi Himmelfahrt). On a bright and warm late-spring day, people are out and about, and very few shops are open.

I’m halfway through my month-long stay in Vienna, and today, I’m in the city’s 19th district, Döbling, where in his time Beethoven spent many summers resting, composing, and contemplating life with total hearing loss. I’ve spent the morning wandering through the Heiligenstadt neighbourhood, including a visit to one of his summer residences that’s now a museum dedicated to Beethoven. Not far down the street is another Beethoven summer house that’s now a wine tavern or “Heuriger”. A hanging bunch of pine branches at the front door means this tavern is open for service, with food and their own wine on offer.

The Austrian capital city is home to the world’s largest “urban vineyard” and is the world’s only capital city producing wine within its city limits. There are some 600 wine producers; 400 individual vineyards; over 7 million square metres (75 million square feet) of cultivation space producing both white and red wines in a 80/20 split, respectively; and an average annual yield of 2 million litres or over 2.5 million bottles of wine. Most of the wine is sold for immediate consumption at wine shops and grocery stores, and at the city’s many wine taverns.

1pm on a holiday is going to be busy, and most tables in shade in the outdoor patio are occupied. I don’t intend to linger; so, I take an open spot under sun. A waiter comes by and asks if there’s something I’d like to drink. I request an “Achtel” (“eighth”, 125mL) of Mayer’s own 2021 Grüner Veltliner, and ask whether’s a buffet today. The food counters are around the corner, he replies, handing me a slip of paper with my assigned-table number. I can pay for the food upon ordering at the counter, or I can pay when I’m done. Inside, there’s the unmistakable glow and refrigerated chill of the food counters. There are salads of the German/Austrian kind (no much of the green leafy kind, though); pickles and Sauerkraut; fatty, meaty, cheesy spreads for bread; the “usual suspects” including pan-fried potatoes, roast-pork and -chicken, sausage, blood sausage; cold cuts and cheeses; and naturally, a dessert display.

I’m not gonna eat too much or fill up on carbs on this very warm afternoon. Keeping it simple, I’ve a tomato and onion salad, to go with a pork Bratwurst, a meat patty (Faschierte Laibchen/Frikadellen), and a big juicy slice of caraway-roasted pork (Kummelbraten). Staff behind the counter ask if I want “Saft” (gravy/juices) with the meat choices. “Ja, bitte!

The tomato and onion mix is a little sweet and sour. This along with the smooth yet sharpness of the wine provide a lighter taste balance to the “heavier” meat portions. The Bratwurst and meat patty are very good, but the Kummelbraten. Oh, the Kummelbraten. The outside is crunchy-chewy (knackig), and the pork is juicy (saftig) and delicious (gewürzt). It’s a style of old-fashioned cooking my parents would have recognized and enjoyed.

The tavern provides a cozy setting. People are shuttling between their tables and the food counters, and there’s a happy murmur to the conversations around me. The young and old fill up tables in both front- and back-garden seating areas. In my view, it’s a pricey meal for one person; yet, I was tempted by the Cremeschnitte on display. However, I also think sharing a variety of food and splitting a bottle of their white vine among a group of people would be a fun spread for an afternoon or evening.


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My Vienna: Schnitzel love at Meissl & Schadn

“Schnitzel: das ist nicht nur nach den Umfragen das Lieblingsessen der Österreicherinnen und Österreicher. Das ist fast schon ein Religion, oder zumindest ein Kultobjekt, der Mittelpunkt eines heliozentrisch-kulinarischen Systems.”

Not only is schnitzel Austria’s favourite food, it’s almost religion, or at the very least, a ‘cult object’ (at) the centre of a heliocentric culinary system.

“Genussland Österreich: vom Wiener Schnitzel”, by Gert Baldauf (ORF 2011).

The short wood mallet strikes with a thud.

Then, a second; followed by another.

The targeted slab becomes flatter, the fleshy disk gets thinner, growing outward with every thump. The shape is closer to circular, its size as large as a dinner plate.

The prep staff in kitchen-whites, in full concentration with their labour.

And that piece of freshly cut veal pounded thin will soon be breaded, and deep-fried to a crispy golden-brown.

The Wiener Schnitzel will soon be mine.


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4. Bezirk, Wieden, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, Fuji X70

3 fave images, 30 days in Vienna

Featured: Karlsplatz (4.) – 15 May 2022.

I recently spent 30 days in Vienna, examining her history of art, architecture, music, and science. A nation’s capital city is also worthy of photographic examination, and there are many opportunities throughout the city to absorb Vienna’s unique urban charm and style. I snapped over 10-thousand images which will keep me busy “in the archive” for some time. The following three images stand out, at least for now. Perhaps, I’ll feel differently about them in 3 weeks, 3 months, or 3 years’ time.

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