Austria, Go! Europe

Would You Like Something to Drink With That?

It turns out that wiener schnitzel is more often made with pork than with veal.  This apparently isn’t because of any moral outrage over eating baby cows, but has to do with the iron curtain being erected between the producers of veal in Hungary and the consumers in Vienna. The local farmers in Austria couldn’t keep up with the demand, so they had to substitute with pork.  Now that the curtain has been drawn, pork has become preferred because the higher fat content of the pig appeals more to Viennese palate.  Anyway, I can now order schnitzel without concern for the poor baby cows, but with more concern for my cholesterol.

Vienna is fueled more by wine than by beer.  In the neighborhood we are living, for instance, there are so many wine bars that they draw tourist buses enroute from the Danube to Beethoven’s house.  Called heurigens, these sometimes large halls or gardens are traditionally associated with one wine maker, with his vineyard visible on the hill in the distance, selling pots of wine drawn straight from the barrel.  They are open only when their wine is fresh, indicated by the pine boughs hanging over the door.  They also each have a buffet, where you can order a slice of roast pork and a bowl of assorted prepared salads.  The tourist heurigen have corrupted this system, selling bottled wine from any number of vineyards and staying open all year around.  We’ve been trying at least one heurigen a week in an attempt to find a favorite local place, but the search is more fun than reaching the goal.

That said, there is also a brewery a couple of train stops away.  The night we arrived we found a cold six-pack on the balcony of our new apartment as a house-warming present from the previous tenant.  After traveling all day, the near-freezing beer tasted so good, and we haven’t been able to beat it with other brands.  The beer comes in half-liter bottles, which seems to be the right amount if I really want a beer, or a better sharing amount if we’re just thirsty.  After a meeting in the neighborhood of the brewery, I ventured to see if they had a tour or a tasting room or something, and found the Ottakringer store.  I didn’t buy anything, not wanting to have to carry it back on the train, but I got to see if they make anything that I was being remiss in not trying. The brewery will definitely be on the tour schedule when my folks visit in May.


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