Vienna is famous for its coffee houses; they are all over the city. In the States, if you order anything other than a black coffee, there’s a certain class of folks who will judge you for that choice. In Vienna, it’s the opposite – ordering just a black coffee is frowned upon. Mostly because Vienna has such a wide variety of delicious coffee choices that just ordering a basic black coffee seems like nearly an insult. And the black coffee won’t be drip-coffee but an espresso. I usually just order a melange – coffee with milk foam.
The best part of the coffee house is the pastry. Trust me when I tell you the Viennese take their pastry very seriously. Little known fact: the croissant was invented in Vienna. The apple strudel is perhaps the most famous Viennese pastry, but the Sacher torte is giving it a run for its money. Named for the famous Sacher hotel, the chocolate ganache-covered cake is filled with apricot jam.
When KW visited, we had lunch at the Demel Cafe. Much to our delight, the dining room is next to the glass kitchen where the pastry chefs are hard at work making their masterpieces. We watched them roll, cut and paint chocolate and puff pastry and all kinds of other wonders. I fancy myself a good cook, but for the most part pastry eludes me — too much attention to proper temperature and exact measurements for my more-art-than-science approach. But watching the pastry chefs at work was a fascinating experience.
Some coffee houses have a very simple menu. Others have extensive dessert, drink and meal choices, often displayed with pictures. MD and I discovered a great little place in the Mariahilferstrasse where she got the sundae that shames all other sundaes, and I got some kind of hot toddy.
Title quote: Mark Twain