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.

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!

Barcelona 3/20

Meringue-topped cupcakes

Hot chocolate and chocolate cake

These pictues from our Barcelona trip popped up in my feed today. The top photo are some astonishing cupcakes we saw in a pastry shop. We didn’t buy them, but they just looked sooo incredible.

The hot choclate and cake I had at the Museum of Chocolate. It’s that super-thick, just-melted European hot chocolate that you might do better to eat with a spoon than try to drink. I probably did not need to have the cake as well, but, hey, you only live once.

D.C. Photos 4/16-4/23/22

A few more photos from our DC trip a couple of weeks ago.

We ended up having dinner in the hotel bar a couple of times, and the food was actually pretty good. The crispy pork belly bao were great, as a matter of fact. The charcuterie board was nothing amazing, but it was our last night in DC, we were tired, and everything was tasty if unremarkable.

That same day, we also had lunch at Mikko, a little Scandinavian cafe that was a short walk from the hotel. From that website, I was sort of expecting a fancy European restuarant, but it was a small walk-in with a couple of tables inside and on the sidewalk. We sat outdoors, since it was a very nice day. I had the Skagen, an open-faced shrimp salad sandwich. We also shared a bowl of the mushroom soup. The soup thoroughly exceeded my expectations. It was a thick puree rather than a creamy or brothy soup, full of deep mushroom flavor and almost nothing else.

We had a hard time finding food tours in DC. I don’t know if the pandemic killed hem off, or if it’s just not a thing there. There were only a couple we could find online: one that took people through the U Street neighborhood and focused on the Black ethnic cuisines there (Ethiopian and Jamaican, mainly), and one in Georgetown. We opted for the Georgetown tour, though I am sure we would have enjoyed either. We met up at District Doughnut and then very briskly walked through the gorgeous neighborhood, stopping at several spots that were involved in JFK’s time there pre-presidency. We enjoyed an excellent falafel from Falafel Inc., had the meatloaf special at the famous Martin’s Tavern, and a creme brulee at a newer restaurant whose name I now forget. Overall, the tour did not live up to some of our previous food tour experiences, but it was nice to walk around the neighborhood and sample some local favorites.

Somehow, when I posted the photos from Albi last week, I managed to forget to include the dessert tray, so I have added it here. Tiny little bites of wonder to finish off such a memorable meal. The baklava was especially good.

Dinner 4/20/22

We spent last week in Washington DC, and the highlight of the trip was our dinner at Albi – a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant that features a wood oven that they use for grilling, charring, etc. Absolutely one of the best dining experiences we have had in a long time. I found the restaurant on Eater DC’s “Essential DC Restaurants” list, and they were not wrong.

We both agreed that the baba ghannoush was almost too pretty to eat. The eggplant was charred in the wood oven, and it was served with smoked cauliflower, pine nuts, and tiny pickled peppers. The accompanying pita came fresh from the oven, still all puffed up, and sprinkled with za’atar and parsley.

My favorite dish was the charred “sweet & sumac” bok choy, served with whipped feta, apricot honey, and peanuts. They also make this dish with sweet potato and had just switched to bok choy as a more season-appropriate ingredient. I like bok choy, but am more familiar with it in stir-fry and other Chinese preparations, but now I can’t wait to try charring some on the grill this summer.

The barbecued black bass was outstanding, but by the time the entree came to the table, we were very full from the other courses and only ate about half. The waiter was afraid we hadn’t liked it, but there was just no more room in our tummies.

Cocktail 6/12/21

Smoked Rye Manhattan

We spent a wonderful weekend in Portland, Main back in June 2021. We lived in Portland for several years in the early 1990s, and we still like to go up and visit once in a while. My wife had some travel points on a credit card to score us a cheap hotel room (because, let me tell you, there is no such thing as a cheap hotel room in Maine in the summer), and we hit up some old haunts. We also met up for dinner and drinks with our friends Tony and Sharon, who live nearby and ended up at The Independent Ice Company, a whiskey bar in the Old Port. Our original plan was to go somewhere else for dinner, but it was hard to get a reservation anywhere, so we parked our butts in the bar, ordered off their small food menu, and made an evening of it.

This is one of their signature cocktails, a smoke-infused Manhattan. I love a good Manhattan, and the smoke infusion sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try. As you can see from the photo, they literally bring a bottle of wood smoke to your table and “pour” it into the drink. Looking at their online menu just now, I see that they say the wood is “Knob Creek American oak chips”, so oak chips that have been soaked in the same Knob Creek rye that the drink is made from.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the novelty, but I don’t know if it really added that much to the experience of having a Manhattan. What I like about Manhattans is the interplay between the spicy rye and the sweet red vermouth, and smoke is kind of an easily overwhelming flavor/aroma component. We had a secound round of drinks, and I did not order a second one, I just had a whiskey on the rocks.