vienna

My best friend Jack is obsessed with Christmas. Back when we were in college, he celebrated it fairly intensely with dorm room decorations and parties and, as we have gotten older matured, so, too, has Jack’s Christmas spirit. So it came as no surprise to me that when we were discussing our plans for our annual friendship tour, it was decided that our destinations had to have holiday markets. Vienna was a natural candidate. I fully expected Jack to lose his mind there, but what I didn’t anticipate was Vienna would woo me with its classy brand of Christmas cheer.

I had been to Vienna before on my post-graduation backpacking trip. I thought it was pretty and clean, but it didn’t leave a huge impression on me. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it there this time around. Especially the food. And the stalls selling mulled wine everywhere were a major bonus!

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One of our main objectives in Vienna was to drink wine from Burgenland, a region in southeastern Austria. Some of my favorite producers (thanks to Hande who introduced me to them) are those of Claus Preisinger, Paul Achs, and Christian Tschida. At Claus’ suggestion, we headed to Pub Klemo our first night. We drank his 2006 Pannobile with venison. The “pub” is actually a wine bar opposite a well stocked wine shop by the same owners. It is a fantastic destination for drinking Austrian wines.

We also found wines by the three aforementioned producers at Wein & Co, a ubiquitous chain that serves wines and food in a few of their locations. Wein & Co doesn’t offer the best atmosphere ever, but it does have a vast selection of bottles, which can be purchased off the shelf and drunk at the bar for shop price.

We really enjoyed Le Cru, a shop and wine bar specialized in Champagne.

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Due to poor planning (ie me not bothering to make reservations) we weren’t able to eat at some highly recommended restaurants like Pfarrwirt, Freyenstein, Steirereck. We did, however, have an amazing, long, and late lunch at Am Nordpol, where we disgusted delighted our lovely server Astrid by ordering way too much food, finishing it all, then ordering dessert. Their roast pork with sauerkraut was outstanding saurkraut and Jack finally got the käsekrainer. Also called Eitriger, or ‘pus-stick’, this unfortunately named delicacy is a pork and molten cheese sausage. It is as delicious as its name is gross.

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We enjoyed a tasty breakfast (at Hande’s suggestion) at Orlando di Castello and had a great dinner at Mochi with Christian Tschida, who paired his lovely wines with Mochi’s Asian fusion.

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But perhaps our favorite part of Vienna were the mayo-rich open-faced sandwiches. For this local specialty we honed in on two institutions Hande recommended; both are located off Graben, a main square. First (and third–we went back twice) we visited Zum Schwarzen Kameel where well-heeled locals stood clustered around elevated tables sipping wine and nibbling sandwiches between cigarettes. Nearby at Trzesniewski, we ate sandwiches with pfiff (a tiny shot of beer).

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No trip to Vienna would be complete without a visit to Demel, where the crowds are unbearable and the Sachertorte (my least favorite dessert) is king.

We left plenty undiscovered, but the brief and tasty stay in Vienna won’t be our last. Special thanks to Hande, Claus and Christian for their recommendations!

Explore related categories:
Food & Wine · Gastronomic Traditions · Restaurants · Sweets & Dessert · Travel · Wine & Spirits

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