Vienna Pastries

Apple strudel

Cardinal cake

Dobos torte

Here are a few more photos from Vienna. Even though we weren’t allowed to eat inside restuarants thanks to having Covid, many of Vienna’s cafes have outdoor seating, and the weather was agreeable while we were there, so we did get to go to a couple of cafes.

You undoubtedly know apple strudel, and this was a very good example of one. The filling is not unbearably sweet, which was appreciated. When I was in cooking school we did strudel, and I know what a pain it is to get the dough right.

The cardinal cake was a delightful surprise. The cake itself is extremely light. It’s a combo of yellw and white cake. Then there is a thick layer of patisserie creme, and a layer of raspberry jam (the red color of which is how it gets its name), then a final layer of yellow cake on the bottom. On this particular one, the jam layer was not spread all the way across the cake, but that helped to make a nice pocket of jam in the slice.

Dobos torte is thin layers of cake interspersed with thin layers of chocolate ganache and topped with a layer of crispy caramel. Decadent does not bgin to describe it. I had this with a melange coffee — the Viennese specialty coffee that is basically cafe au lait topped with a helthy dollop of whipped cream. TBH, it was all a bit much, but that didn’t stop me from eating and drinking all of it.

Thanksgiving 2022

Roast turkey with gravy, sauteed Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar, sage stuffing, green bean casserole

Butternut squash and apple soup

Roasted dry-brined turkey breast

Roaster turkey legs and wings

We cooked at home for Thanksgiving this year and stuck to pretty standard items. Roast turkey, stuffing, the inevitable green bean casserole, and such.

For the last couple of years, we were able to get a very small 8-pound turkey from Walden Meat, but this year they sent us a 13-pound bird. Way too much for three people. I broke the bird down and roasted the legs and wings on their own, then for Thanksgiving Day cry-brined and roasted the entire breasr. My wife and daughter only eat the white meat, so I saved the legs and wings for other uses. I used the back and the wing tips, along with the innards, to make turkey stock, which was glroiously gelatinous when it cooled. The cat got the cooked liver. Between the three of us, we only ate one half of the breast, so the vast majority of the turkey ended up as leftovers.

I dunno, it all just feels like more effort than it is worth. We liked our dinner well enough, but two days of cooking and trashing the kitchen for what ends up being a relatively boring meal feels like a disproportionate amount of work.

Breakfasts in Vienna

Top – sunnyside eggs with ham and rye toast. Bottom – soft-boiled egg with ham and cheese, rolls, jam

The weather for our week in Vienna was pleasant and mild, so that gave us the oppotunity to have breakfast in a couple of cafes near out hotel that had outdoow seating.

The top photo is from a cafe called Ulrich (named for St. Ulrich’s Church right next door). Ham and eggs, Austrian style, with delicious country ham (which you can see barely peeking out from under the eggs). I also had a latte there that was probably the best latte I have ever had in my life. So I had a second one.

The next day, we had breakfast at Cafe Adlerhof, just up the street. I had this pretty typical European-style breakfast plate of ham and cheese with a soft-boiled egg and some rolls. i used one of the rolls to dip into the egg, though some toast might have been better, and then had butter and strawberry jam on the other (which, again, I probably would have preferred toast). I had a cafe mocha which was not especially mocha-y, and a latte that was okay but not as good as the one down the street at Ulrich.

Room Service

Top – Flammenkuchen with prosciutto. Bottom – cheese tray with fruit and hummus

Though our Vienna hotel did not have a restaurant or kitchen of its own, they still managed to put together some very nice boards for us to enjoy for the couple of days we were stuck in our room.

Flammenkuchen is a pizza-like flatbread that originates from Alsace and southwestern Germany. The crust is crisp and very thin, but not cracker-like, and the toppings vary. There used to be a lovely restaurant in Cambridge called Sandrines that did a variety of flammenkuchen, and there was a caramelized onion and blue cheese one I loved. This one had prosciutto and melted cheese. It looks bigger in the photo than it really was. There was just enough for one person.

The cheese board was lovely to look at as well as yummy. It featured Muenster, Brie, a thinly-sliced smoked cheese that might have een Gouda but I am not sure, and an intensely black-peppered goat cheese.

They also provided us with breakfast a few times. We had some little croissants with different jams (raspberry, strawberry, apricot, and an excellent orange one), toasted brown bread, and coffee.

The hotel staff were very accomodating and concerned for our well-being the whole time, which really took the sting off being sick on vacation. We gave them a thank-you gift when we were on our way out, and I thought the front desk person was going to cry, she was so appreciative.

I Went To Vienna And All I Got Was Covid

Because that’s the way life goes, I guess. Despite beingf very careful for two and a half years, despite getting all the vaccines and boosters, on our second day of vacation I tested positive for Covid.

Luckily, I only had (and still have) very mild symptoms, as did my wife, who tested positive a couple of days later. And, luckily, Austria does not have a quarantine in place, so we were still able to see some of the sights as long as we were masked up. However, we had to cancel all our dinner reservations at all the restaurants we had planned, because you can’t be umasked indoors in a restaurant. A lot of places in Vienna do have outdoor seating, but it’s mid-October and a bit too chilly to eat outside.

So we managed on room service and takeout delivery. Big props to the delivery service MJAM and their fleet of bicycle delivery guys. We had some excellent Thai food and I had a nice container of pho one night. The hotel, which doesn’t have a restaurant attached, nevertheless managed to send up a couple of meat-and-cheese boards for dinner, and coffee and croissants for breakfasts. We did have breakfast at a couple of cafes with outdoor seating, and an afternoon stop for coffee and pastry at another one. I do have photos to share and will post them once I get things in order, but it was not the foodie adventure I had hoped for.

Dinner 10/15/22

Cafe Ansari,Vienna

First night in Vienna. We didn’t really get any sleep on the plane, but we did crash for the afternoon once we got into our hotel room so we would have enough energy to go out to dinner.

Cafe Ansari is a Georgian restaurant,recommended to me by my friend who lives here. We’ve never had Georgian cuisine before, so it seemed like a good adventure. Our goal is to not just have schnitzel all week,but to try a bit of whatever Vienna has to offer. Tomorrow night we’re going to a traditional Viennese place that specializes in those sorts of dishes.

It’s a cool,wet evening,but there were people dining outside. Luckily we were sealed inside. The atmosphere was warm and friendly.

Khatchapuri
Baba ghannoush, purple carrot,and sweet potato with sheep cheese spreads

We started with khatchapuri, which is a soft pita style bread stuffed with cheese ,sort of like a Middle Eastern quesadilla. With that, we also had a trio of spreads – a baba ghannoush, sweet potato with sheep cheese, and a purple carrot hummus. They were all delicious, but the sweet potato one was the best of the three.

Broiled eggplant with administration paste and mango yogurt sauce

Bridget chose this eggplant dish. As a non meat eater, traditional Viennese cuisine is not her thing, so I was glad this place had entree choices that were up her alley.

Chackapuli

I had chachapuli, which is a braise of lamb,with quince slices and served with a side of buttery mashed turnip. The fruit really cut the richness of the braised lamb,and it was perfect for an October evening.

Destination: Vienna

I wantd to mention that my wife and I are going to Vienna for a week. We’re leaving Friday night and will be back the following Saturday. We’ve got a food tour booked, and dinner reservations at a number of different restaurants, so please stop by to see all the adventures in one of the greatest foodie destinations in the world. I am very excited to be traveling internationally again. Hopefully we won’t get the ‘vid while we’re there!

Dinner 10/9/22

Roast beef, sauteed green beans with garlic and chili flakes, scalloped potatoes with Gruyere

My mother made roast beef for Sunday “dinner” (served at noon, the old-fashioned way) more weeks than not when I was growing up. She usually made potatoes of some sort, usually baked, maybe some canned corn (cooked in milk, the old-fashioned way) or some green vegetable we kids wouldn’t eat, and sometimes popovers. On Monday nights, we would get the leftover roast beef, cooked in the leftover gravy, served on slices of white bread as a sort of open-faced sandwich.

I make roast beef maybe 2-3 times a year. Because Charlotte was home, and because I wanted to use up the roast that has been in my freezer since April, this past Sunday was one of those occasions. My mother always uses Lipton onion soup mix on the outside of her roast, and I often do the same, but went with Penzey’s English Prime Rib Rub. It has more nuance, mainly because the celery seed is the most prominent flavor of the ingredients. I also like that rub on a ribeye steak. I think I nailed the doneness, thanks to my trusty ThermoPen;if I had pulled the roast at the suggested cook time, it would have been much too undercooked, but the instant-read thermometer convince me to give it an extra fifteen minutes and it was perfect.

My preference with roast beef is to roast some parsnips, potatoes, and carrots, but neither my wife nor daughter like them nearly as much as I do. I have been trying different cheesy scalloped potato recipes, and I thought I had a winner this time, but I think I had too much liquid and did not cook the casserole at a high enough temperature. It was tasy, but didn’t really come out as I wanted. Charlotte specifically asked for the green beans, and I was glad to oblige. They are always good.

Dinner 10/7/22

Frutti di mare over fettucine

The kid came home for the holiday weekend, and we knew she would be lobbying to go out to dinner, but, as mentioned in the post below, there was no way in hell we were going to try to go out to eat on a Friday night in October in Salem. So we pre-emptively made a reservation at Berry Tavern and presented it as a done deal when Herself walked in the door.

As it was with our previous visit a few weeks ago, the place was slamming. It was a very warm evening, so all the outside tables were full, and the inside was as loud and buzzy as we found it earlier. Nevertheless, we were able to easily find street parking, and did not have to wait for our table.

Because this is a “more is better” kind of place, I knew enough not to order an appetizer this time, even though I really liked the meatballs app on our first visit. I am always game for a seafood pasta dish, though. The frutti di mare special was mussels, clams, scallops and shrimp in a tomato, white wine, and garlic sauce served over fettucine. The clams were especially good – sweet and succulent. Some of the mussels were huge but not too chewy. The sauce was a little more brothy than saucy, so it didn’t particularly stick to the pasta very well, but it was delicious, and I had the waitress bring us a second serving of bread so I could sop it all up. For dessert, I had a slice of carrot cake that seemed to be made elsewhere, but that’s forgiveable for this sort of restaurant. We are two-for-two on this place now, so I’m sure we’ll keep going back.

Dinner 9/26/22

Macaroni and cheese with pulled pork

We had dinner at Opus in downtown Salem a couple of weeks ago. My wife had a particularly aggravating day at work that day and wanted to go have a cocktail to try to soothe her nerves. Her first choice was Mercy Tavern, but the options were to sit outside on a cool night or wait forever for a table inside. So we came back down Derby St. and tried to find parking for American Flatbread, but no luck, so Opus was the last-chance-or-go-home choice. Because it’s that time of year again in Our Fair City. But that’s okay, because we liked Opus on our earlier visit.

Things were a lot quieter when we got there than the last time. It was a Monday night, so you might expect that, but a very different vibe than the previous visit. We got seated and had cocktails in hand soon after. Crisis averted.

I ordered the pork belly bao as a starter, and they were excellent. The pork belly was super crispy and obviously came straight out because it was sizziling hot. For my entree, I had this macaroni & cheese with pulled pork. It was quite good, but hoo-boy did it sit in my stomach like a ton of lead. I was still full when I woke up the next morning.

We’ll be avoiding downtown Salem as much as possible until afer Halloween, thank you very much.