I've never been to Austria and I had never eaten Austrian food before, so I came to this cuisine without many pre-conceived notions. I had some, of course, in that I expected it to be pretty much like German food - not that I know very much about German food either, in my one brief visit to Germany some years ago all I seemed to eat were sausages and Greek food.
I was not too surprised to find out that a lot of Austrian cuisine involves meat and potatoes. Indeed, most of the dishes I found had beef or pork as their main ingredients. Even finding a recipe for a salad was difficult - I found several for potato & apple salads, but I thought I'd serve potatoes as a side dish so potato salad seemed like an overkill.
Austrian food, however, is more sophisticated that I first gave it credit for. The Austrian-Hungarian empire at one time covered much of Central Europe and Austrian cuisine has been much influenced by the foods of the countries it once ruled. Even now, Austrian cuisine varies considerably from region to region and even Viennese food is said to be distinct.
My aim this time, however, was to cook general Austrian food so I looked for dishes that appeared time after time in Austrian recipe sites. I found it difficult to find an appropriate appetizer. The most likely choice was Liptauer, a cheese spread, but I thought it'd be difficult to find the type of cheese I'd need. With a new baby at home, I don't really have time to go searching for special ingredients the way I might have before. As we are in summer, I didn't really want to make a soup so I settled for a salad, though I'm not sure how "typical" it is.
I thought at first that I would make Wiener Schnitzel for my main dish - after all, what can be more Austrian than that? However, I finally decided that these breaded veal cutlets were not different enough from Argentine milanesas to make them worthy of this cultural exploration. Instead I made the Viennese version of boiled beef. I had meant to serve this with Austrian fried potatoes but I overcooked them so it didn't work out.
Austrian food might not be the most revered in the world, but Austrian cakes & pastries are second to none. I wanted to make an apple strudel but I couldn't really afford the time this or any of the wonderful chocolate cake recipes I found would require. Instead, I settled for a chocolate pudding which left much to be desired.
This meal, all in all, was not very successful. It was, however, the first international meal I cooked since the birth of my beautiful daughter 3 months ago, so for that alone it was special.
My final menu consisted of:
- Pear salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
- Tafelspitz with Apfelkren
Viennese Boiled Beef with Apple Horseradish Sauce. And finally
- Mohr im Hemd
Chocolate Almond Pudding
We accompanied the meal with an Austrian wine: Glatzer Blaunfränkisch Reserve, 1999. It was OK, not great, not bad. We'd probably not buy it again.
Austrian Food Links