I arrived in Vienna on a very, very snowy afternoon. Like I said, I felt at home with the East Coast storm! I arrived at the hotel where all the American’s were staying for the duration of the ATB conference. This is a nice touch because then amongst the large group, you are with people from your areas and can do some relationship building and networking. That evening, we had a cooking class that was provided for the group. I saw this on the itinerary in December and have been excited about it ever sense. I had all the reason to be excited I found! It was amazing!
Take a “stroll” with me! The snow is coming down so hard you can hardly see in front of you as your shoes crunch through it. Your nose it so cold and your jacket is all wet from. You escape the snow momentarily when you enter through large wooden doors, to a covered tunnel that then leads to an open courtyard that looks to be someone’s private parking area. Walk past there slightly and then arrive at a small, modern building that is hidden off the streets. Take a step in and you enter, what looks to be a studio for kitchen, there are people there to greet you and you can already smell beautiful aromas of food in the house as your nose and fingers start to warm up from being in the cold!
That was my introduction to Bianca’s demo kitchen. Bianca is the head chef and our host for the evening. We are taken upstairs where they have a sommelier and large display of appetizer to snack on before we begin. We are greeted with a glass of rosé upon entering and split into three teams to make a three course meal. The three meals represent three Austrian cities – Salzburg, Innsbruck, and Vienna.
Bianca introduced us to all the appetizers out and how to eat them. There was a special ham, breads, cheeses, meats, and lots of pickled vegetables. The one appetizer so mainly focused on was butter! Yes, butter! I have tasted a lot of food and have done a variety of cheese and meat tasting but never had a done a butter tasting. What a fabulous idea! Butter, especially good quality butter, makes a huge difference in everything that it is used in. If it is “standing alone” on bread or simply being melted to be added to the top of an apple strudel, it plays an important role in the meal process. She had three different types of butter out and you could tell the difference in flavors when eaten with different types of bread. During our “munching”, Bianca explained the night to us. She is so passionate about what she does and her passion is contagious. One aspect of the introduction that stuck to me was the importance of fresh, local products. They get all their meats, produce, cheeses, breads, etc. from small, local farmers. Everything is and must be organic, too, for it to be of standard!
The team I was on was the Apple Strudel team, so Vienna. We had the pleasure to be taught by Bianca. We did everything from peeling/cutting the apples, making the filling, making the dough, stretching the dough, and assembling. I was in my element and just had the best time interacting with the others on my time. Some were quite experiences in the kitchen and in there travels, which others were neither. There were young, old, American, Australian – but all brought together over food and to share a meal.
I do have to touch on the wine. It was some of, if not the, best wine I have ever tasted. Austrian wine may be the best kept secret. Well it was a secret to me at least! The wines were from Winery Fritz Weininger and Weingut Mayer Am Pfarrplatz . We did a wine tasting that consisted of 5 different wines. The sommelier, Georg, was wonderful. He was so knowledgeable and tended to have a heavy hand when pouring. No one complained about that! The wine was so clean, crisp, full of flavor, and smooth. I am typically a bubbles or red wine kind of gal. I fell in love with the whites this evening though! The Weiner Gemischter Staz and the Sauvignon Blanc from Weingut Mayer Am Pfarrplatz to be specific. They were packed with flavor yet subtle and clean. Georg was wonderful and walked around during the cooking demonstrations to make sure you weren’t without wine! If you’re every in Vienna or find yourself planning a trip to Austria, I recommend a visit to the vineyards for at least one wine tasting!
Like I mentioned, the three meals represent three Austrian cities -Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Vienna. Innsbruck had the first course and that was “Innsbruck Cheese Dumplings with Lettuce”. Salzburg, or the second course, was “Salzburg Beer Beef Stew with Spaetzli” and, of course, Vienna was the “Viennese Apple Strudel”. Talk about an amazing meal to share with others!! The ones who organized this were so prepared, too, as we went home with all the recipes. I cannot wait to bring my Vienna/Austria experience at home, in the kitchen.What I love about food is that it brings people together and, typically, or you would hope, makes people happy. Those flavors will forever transport me back to my first night in Vienna and I hope I can transport others along the ride with me.
I am in for a Vienna walking tour to come and then I also learn the Viennese Waltz. I was talking how I was in my element in the cooking class but the Viennese Waltz is a different story. For being an athlete, I am very much lacking in the coordination and grace categories for some reason but I am excited to take it on! To attend a Viennese ball I need to know this, right? I have to be prepared if the opportunity presents itself!