One For The Pot New Discovery
It took me a long, long time to appreciate and discover the many tea merchants in Vienna, but a Christmas present last year means I now buy loose-leaf tea in the city. The choice is of course mind-boggling but I just normally ask for a “Kräftiger Schwarzes Tee” costing about six Euros for 100g. This is more expensive than supermarket brands from uninspiring Teefix, Teekane or Twinnings but as the quality is far superior, you don’t need as much and it lasts longer. Also the taste is something else, reminding me of those early years in London when I was a wee nipper, sitting in front of the fire with my Grandmother while the rest of the house slept. There are many places to buy (Haas & Haas,Jägertee) but I use Demmers at the moment because I am locked in to their loyalty card. One word on the traditional café: tea in Vienna coffee houses is a joke. Usually they serve a pot with a tiny tea bag and charge a fiver. To avoid any unecessary strain, just stick with coffee.
Eating Out (Posh)
It is not new and evidence of the fact I don’t get to try out many new places these days, but Motto am Fluss never disappoints. Superb food, top location as you perch over the Danube Channel and its graffiti, and all aided by attentive and friendly staff who never make you feel like they would enjoy spilling soup in your lap. You need to posh up concerning prices but that’s why Austria gave you a Sparbuch (savings book).
Eating Out (Traditional)
A return to the roots of traditional Viennese or Austrian cuisine has been a feature of the capital’s food scene in recent years, repackaged for a younger generation who expect better quality and ingredients and are willing to pay for it. But many traditional Beisl or Gasthaus survive positioned somewhere above the level of the serious boozer and the more high-end reinvention of Viennese classics. This year’s discovery is the Dorfwirt in Oberlaa. The cosiest pub/restaurant I have found this year (as they say here, “it has a good aura”). The restaurant out back is a rather sterile but the garden is agreeable enough. But as always, the main bar and best bit is still smoking. This will improve in 2018 with the smoking ban, or would have done if the new government, puffed up by the terrific chaps of the pro-smoking Freedom Party, hadn’t stubbed out the proposed introduction of the law.
Ask anyone in Vienna their views on the best pizza and the answers will be more divisive than a Trump tweet or opinions on Brexit. I still maintain that Rossini in the 1st district is the dough master but they have lost my vote due to a combination of entrenched indifference and never turning the heating on when I go there. However, there is hope in the 7th district on Kirchengasse and the Trattoria I Carusi. You will, of course, disagree and are welcome to exercise your views via the usual channels (postcards usually get the fastest response). Alternatively, you can invite me out for a pizza where we can engage in a deep discourse about the merits of flour, yeast and water. But be warned: if you take a picture of your food and share it on Facebook, you will pay the bill (just after I have ordered the most expensive bottle of Prosecco).
The top Austrian sportsman of the last few years has been the skier Marcel Hirscher, winning the last six skiing World Cups (making him the best skier on the planet apart from me after two Jägermeister). But he is not Viennese, which may surprise you. Another contender is fiery footballer Marko Arnautovic, currently coming good in the English Premier League with my team West Ham. However, with a reputation built on a deep appreciation of the strop and sulk (understandable when you learn that he grew up in Vienna’s 21st district) we have to say, no. Instead, it can only be local boy Mensur Suljovic, winner of the Champions League of Darts in 2017.
Fall From Grace Mr Tickle
More or less turfed out by the Green Party and with his political career in doubt, all-round champion of the people and veteran social justice campaigner Peter Pilz amazed many this year with his gains in this year’s general election as an independent (possibly at the expense of his former paymasters at the Green party which were disastrously booted out of Parliament). But with it came his sudden resignation as rapidly emerging accusations of inappropriate behaviour became public and he was gone (for now). Which goes to show that past behaviour can come back to bite you in the arse (if you have a uncontrollable urge to pinch one). Rumour has it, the details were leaked by the Greens who knew all along.
After twenty years in Vienna, I have not made up my mind how I feel about the opera. I have been to a few and enjoyed the music and spectacle, but like anywhere with a crowd, I take just as much interest in the people attending as the cultural capital on offer. Back in January I was not disappointed. Purcell’s Fairy Queen was astonishing. Astonishing that it held my attention for more than two hours (it was that good). But equally, the people in attendance. We were not the youngest – aherm – but many of the punters were evidently from another eon. The kinds of people I imagine live in large villas in Hietzing, asset rich but cash poor, dressed in dusty looking clothes usually housed in a wardrobe similar to the one leading to Narnia. It is for this reason that If I ever decide to do an ethnographic study, opera goers will be on the shortlist.
Crap Twitter Feed With Vienna In The Title
A clear winner. Vienna Link. Filled with the kind of pseudo business bollocks and little soundbites of life which purport wisdom but simply make me want to put my head under a pillow and devise a cunning plan to turn off the Internet. (They also appear to have a Charles Dickens fetish.) Such delights as, “Networking is a lifestyle, not a task”, “In order to make something worth doing, you need to feel ownership” or “If you choose to be independent, throw away the concept of making excuses”, should keep you amused if you can work out what they mean.
As an avowed expert in all things vexatious, I was slightly miffed when I came across this chain of five financial consultants in Vienna known as the “Vexpert”. As we know, financial services push the limits of vexation especially if you have ever tried to claim on your insurance or receive some transparency over your fees to your pension. Vexed that someone else has appropriated my identify, I begrudgingly accept them as worthy recipients.
More in part 2 …
© 2017 RJ Barratt