I’m writing about Vienna after having arrived at our house in Umbria,
which puts Vienna at an unfair disadvantage.
Not that we didn’t have a great trip to Vienna. It’s a beautiful city, filled with magnificent buildings – Parliament, Imperial Palaces, churches, cathedrals and hundreds of museums. We saw a pant-load of art in Vienna. Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimpt, Oskar Kokoshka, among the most famous. It was food for our souls.
But in terms of food for our bellies, I’d have to put Austria right up there with Switzerland, in that every meal feels like work. The food is heavy; it’s centered on meat and potatoes; they use too much cream; there’s no sense of excitement. One gets the feeling that for centuries they’ve been eating for sustenance and not for pleasure. I prefer pleasure.
They have a wonderful market called the Naschtmarkt that goes on for blocks and we had a great time wandering through it. But Jill bought an apple from a farmer’s stand and found there was no taste in it. Whereas when we got home to Umbria last night, there was a bowl-full of fruit waiting for us in the kitchen and every bite was bursting with flavor. What is it about Italy that makes everything taste so good?
Okay: Vienna. The cafes are terrific. They’re the best place to eat in Vienna. Order your favorite coffee, read your paper – heaven. And the coffee’s top notch – rich and flavorful and it delivers the requisite buzz. The pastries are also world class. So, pastries and coffee is the way to go. We spent a lovely late morning at a café called Sperl. We met a friend and
passed an hour or so in another century,
which, given our present century, was refreshing.
The beer is eminently drinkable and the local wine is surprisingly good. There are around 1400 acres of vines growing within the city limits and tons more on the hills surrounding. I was drinking mostly pinot noir – not fancy stuff, just what the restaurants were pouring by the glass – and I was very happy with it.
But compared to Umbria? Sunday, our first morning home, we scraped ourselves out of bed at 10:30 and headed up the road to Trevi, where we heard there was a farmer’s market. The big crops at this time of year are sweet and hot peppers and celery – peperoni e sedano – so we bought lots of each – and a few local sausages for yours truly. Dinner that night was whole-wheat farro pasta with celery and peppers and I broiled a couple of the sausages for myself in the fireplace in the dining room.
Ah, Italia. It’s good to be back. Tomorrow – weather permitting – we start the olive harvest.