Horses and Schnitzel Wien, Austria Dec 14, 2018

Horses and Schnitzel

Wien, Austria

Dec 14, 2018

We couldn’t stay awake past 7.30 pm on Thursday evening. Struggled but collapsed in a heap. While we woke numerous times during the night, we managed to stay in bed until 4.00 am, so 8 or so hours of a kinda sleep. It was worth waking up early as we came in on the end of WhatsApp threads announcing that Malia had been guaranteed a place at UNSW in the B Science Data Analytics and Decisions degree. Wonderful news and a just reward for all her dedication.

We decided that breakfast would be a left over apricot filled “bun” and that I would go down stairs for coffee and tea. I struggled back in the lift with two trays. Café late consists of a tall glass filled with frothed milk and an espresso cup of coffee poured over the top. “Over the top” did I say … $AUD7.12. At this point I fess up to having had a cup of Nestle instant coffee at 4.00 am. Out of the darkness I heard Ches say “You’ve gotta be desperate”

The “Apricot filled bun” turns out to be Krapfen. “The recipe for Krapfen was published in a 1485 German cookbook that was printed on the Gutenberg press. Though these delicious sugary treats have been around for a while, they only achieved widespread popularity in Vienna during the 19th century, when the cost of sugar became significantly less expensive.

Today’s Krapfen resemble the old recipe but modern Vienna has created a set of standards that must be met to be deemed worthy of the name. They must contain apricot jam – in fact at least 15% of the doughnut must be filling. And bakers must use six fresh egg yolks for every kilogram of flour used.

The penalty for not adhering to the regulations: a visit and a fine from the MA 59 Inspectorate. This group of magistrates is responsible for ensuring the quality of food and food safety standards in the city, and this means the Krapfen as well.”

35 g (1.2oz) fresh yeast

85 ml (6 tbsp) room temperature milk

100 g (3.5 oz) flour for pre-dough (all purpose or gluten free)

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

45 g (1.6oz) white sugar

2 tbsp dark rum or whiskey

1 vanilla bean, scraped (sub for 1 tsp vanilla extract)

1 lemon, zested

290 g (10.2oz) flour for Krapfen dough (all purpose or gluten free)

80 g (2.8oz) room temperature butter

8 g (1.5 tsp) salt

canola oil for frying

apricot jam, passed through sieve, flavored with rum

confectioner sugar (with scraped vanilla)

For the pre-dough, mix yeast, milk and all purpose flour together, wrap with plastic
Proof for about 1-2 hours at room temperature
Cream yolks, eggs, sugar, rum, vanilla bean, and lemon zest
Mix pre dough with egg mixture and the remaining flour
Start mixing at medium speed with hook attachment
Half way through the mixing process, add butter and salt, mix to a smooth dough for 4-5 minutes
Measure to 50 g (1.8 oz) pieces, shape into balls, press flat, place on with flour dusted towel and proof
Cover with flour dusted towels and proof for about 1-2 hours. They should almost double the size
Fry in hot canola oil for 3 minutes in a covered pan, flip them and fry for 3 more minutes
Once golden brown, cool them down on a rack, squeeze apricot jam inside, and dust with confectioner sugar

Rapid Vienna defeated Glasgow Rangers 1 nil. Could be 10,000 unhappy Glaswegans in town for the weekend.

We decided that after such a long flight, we needed a long walk. As to where to and to what purpose, not so sure, so the information office probably the best bet. The hotel map we had was good enough to identify that the Belvedere Palace stretched down the hill toward the edge of the city center and from there I thought I could find the i. With the assistance of a chap who we thought had a South African accent, but turned out to be a local who worked as a translator, we weaved through the labyrinth that is at the core of Vienna and found a warm refuge. It was around zero, and taking gloves off to read the map meant that my memory improved significantly.

We had looked at an online guide book before leaving the hotel, so did in fact have an idea about our options and something indoors was looking appealing. I guess we didn’t spend any more than 2 min in the information center. Just long enough to pick up another map (which included 2 walking tours of Vienna) and loose directions to the Spanish Riding School.

The queues at the Winter Riding School arena were chaotic. No supervision, just figure it out for yourself. We figured that the queue out the door and 50m back up the portico was for people who already had tickets. Ours was the shorter, slower moving one to the left. Inside, the pre purchaced ticket holders had occupied all the seats on both levels of the arena. We decided on the top level and lucked it to two standing positions and eventually two seats (after about an hour). Most people only stayed for two of the four 30 minute training sessions. We stayed for 3 and a half.

The Lipizzaner stallions are bred around 3 hours south of Vienna. They are born black or dark grey and only turn white after around 15 years. Kind of like me. Obviously we had greater expectations in the white horses, being older. Again, much like me.

Magnificent horses and riders and amazing relationships established between them. Perhaps the highlight were two horses who took all their weight on their back legs and just lifted their forelegs off the ground with their bodies still parallel with the ground. Not raised up on their hind legs with their center of gravity shifted back, but just forelegs lifted. The older of the two could even achieve it while mounted, while the younger with the rider standing beside him.

Back out in the freezing cold, Ches took over the navigating and after we spent 30 minutes, lost, returned to the riding school and retraced our steps to the information center, from where I guided us across town to Purstner at Riemergasse 10. 2,859 reviewers on TripAdvisor give it a 4.5 ranking. I was on a mission. Before visiting Vienna some years ago, I researched Schnitzel extensively and left disappointed. This time, I was determined to find a schnitzel that I could sit on without any oil staining my pants. Apparently the secret of the best schnitzel is that they be fried in oil with little oil remaining on the crumb. Purstner may not serve the best schnitzel in Vienna, and I don’t have time to try all the contenders, but it was excellent. My serviette didn’t come away greasy after patting the schnitzel. I only have three pairs of jeans and wasn’t going to risk them. We also ordered Pork Ribs.

We made it through the schnitzel but only half the ribs. Our host, in Lederhosen and checked short sleeved shirt (It’s mid-winter … really) wrapped our ribs in foil. They sufficed for dinner. We barely ate any of the potato however couldn’t resist the sauerkraut. No room for desert but just enough for 2 500ml glasses of Pils. One dark the other light.

We needed another long walk. We therefore headed down to the State Park before heading across to the Summer Palace and back up the hill to our hotel. At some point I made the observation that I was warming to Vienna. It was 1 degree. Ches and my father would have ganged up on me at that point, so in defense I argued that us right brain people just come out with lines like that. We are the creative people. Vienna had left me cold in mid-summer those many years ago. Sorry, couldn’t help it.

Back in the hotel, by 3.00, with the light fading, we decided on a 60 min nap. My timer didn’t work and we woke up 2.5 hours later.

Now it’s 11.00 and time to try for a full nights sleep.

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