Klimt and Torts
Dec 15, 2018
Friday night Ches struggled to stay awake again but finally surrendered at 10.00pm and slept till 5.00am. I made it from midnight till 5.00 am. Adding on the 2.5 hour nap from yesterday afternoon, I figured we would do OK. I pottered till around 6.00 when I became desperate for a coffee. Peering out into the gloom, I realized it was snowing. I checked on line for a coffee shop open near by and discovered it was at the central railway station a couple of hundred meters down the street. I rugged up and ventured out into the snow, returning 15 minutes later with coffee and breakfast filled bread rolls.
We repacked our cases and dressed for a day out in the snow. I ended up wearing four layers of tops, a beanie that Dave & Sue gave me, two scarves and two pairs of gloves (inner ones fingerless). Ann knitted me a tube scarf some years ago. It fitted beneath the third layer of clothing. Because three of the layers were Icebreaker merino, it wasn’t at all bulky. Just time consuming putting on and taking off every time we entered a building.
The plan was to put our bags in storage at the hotel, spend the morning at the Upper Belvedere Palace, walk into town to Café Sacher for lunch and then return to hotel and then taxi to the SS Beatrice moored on the Danube by 3.00pm. The plan was executed with military precision.
The Upper Summer Palace is certainly grand with its marble staircase and marble hall (where the documents were signed to return Austria to nation status in 1955) however it is largely an art gallery. The highlights are the extensive collection of Klimt paintings and that’s where we spent most of our time. They were wonderful. By mid-day, the place was packed with northern and eastern Europeans. Talk about anarchy. We had already experienced the German’s reluctance to queue when in Italy, however we didn’t realize the entire geopolitical region was largely anarchic. Just one experience was when a lift arrived and we stood back to let the passengers off, those behind us just pushed through and we were left to climb the stairs. Then there was the chap who when I opened the door to leave the bathroom, just pushed inside, brushing me aside.
Outside we decided to walk down through the gardens to the Lower Palace. Families were playing in the snow; forming snow angels and there I discovered how to make snowballs. One young girl ran at quite a pace, bent over and rolling a handful of snow ahead of her. After about 15 meters it had grown in size and she scooped it up and flung it at her father.
It was snowing quite heavily as we made our way through one of the Christmas markets and up into town where Café Sacher is opposite the Opera House. There we queued in the snow for around 20 minutes for a table. Once inside, we discovered that the majority were just having Sacher Torte and Coffee or Chocolate. We had decided to have lunch, so to distinguish us from the hoi polloi, our table was reset with a table cloth and a smaller serving table placed beside our table. Ches had Goulash Soup and I the sausages (Wieners) with horseradish and mustard. The Goulash was sensational and my sausages best eaten alone as the horseradish cleared my sinuses through to the back of my skull and my eyes ran instantly. Shaved fresh horseradish is much like wasabi, and I had eaten about a table spoon of it. My sinuses just shuddered thinking about it.
We then had a Sacher Torte which was so much better than our previous experience in Vienna and therefore confirms that Café Sacher can rightfully claim to be the upholder of the tradition. To accompany the torte, Ches had hot chocolate with Sacher Liqueur while I had espresso with orange liqueur and brandy topped with whipped cream. Oh my!!!!
Being serious clients, there was no giving us the bums rush. In fact, after trying to get the account for around 10 minutes, we re-dressed (it takes some time when you’re wearing so many layers) and went to the front desk to pay.
Outside it was snowing quite heavily and I estimated that it was around 4cm for the day. We decided to walk down to, and through, the State Park on our way back to the hotel. This took us past the University Music and Concert building. It also took us past the theater we had attended for a concert some years ago. It had been packed with people in sweltering heat and the performance was period over the top Strauss. I prefer my Strauss heard but not seen. I only mention this because tomorrow night we will be attending another concert at a different venue.
Back at the hotel, we retrieved our luggage and had them call us a taxi. We rolled our luggage to the front door and it opened to reveal the taxi driver. He had been parked out front. It was an uneventful 15 min drive to the ship. It was an eventful arrival. We had forgotten about Uniworld customer service. The wouldn’t let us touch a bag as they unloaded and took them straight to our room while we checked in.
We unpacked and stowed everything in the amazingly well designed storage spaces in our cabin then it was up to the bar for a G&T, cruise briefing, meet other travelers and then dinner and more drinks.
We were joined for dinner by Robyn and Alan, a couple from Perth. Both retired, he was a lawyer, ex Airforce and after early retirement at 55, went off to work for one of the big PNG miners in the highlands. Now in late 60’s he still surfs, rides bikes etc. Also into genealogy, we discovered his family had been on the Kalgoorlie/Bolder fields at the same time as my family from the late 1800’s. Still to find out more about Robyn.
On our last cruise, I had adopted the affectation of taking a Cognac back to the room to finish the evening. Ches decided to join me. She argues that she asked me to get a double Baileys because she was basing the portion on the thimble sized one she had on our flight over. She’d forgotten that Uniworld’s singles are anyone else’s doubles. She said she would finish it off for breakfast. It’s becoming a habit. Actually, she guiltily poured the remainder out.
Beef Goulash Soup
½ pound salt pork or uncured bacon, diced small
2 pounds chuck, cut into ½ inch pieces
4 cups onion, large dice
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika (regular paprika if this is not available)
½ bottle dark beer such as Guinness (3/4 cup)
1 ½ cups pureed tomatoes (Cento canned kitchen ready is what we used)
6 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons marjoram
2 teaspoons dry thyme
8 parsley stems
4 medium peeled garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Sour cream, for serving
Chopped scallion greens, for garnish
Russian rye or pumpernickel bread, for serving
In a 5 ½ quart Dutch oven over medium high heat, cook salt pork until crisp then remove to a large bowl, leaving fat in the pot.
Sear the beef in three batches for about 3-4 minutes per batch. Remove each batch to the same bowl as the salt pork.
Add the onions, lower the heat to medium and stir to combine. Then add the beef and salt pork over the top of the onions. After about five minutes stir and cook for another three minutes.
Add the vinegar and cook to evaporate, about two minutes.
Add the flour and paprika and cook for three minutes, using a wooden spoon to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Add the beer and mix to combine, scraping any brown bits from the pan bottom.
Add the tomatoes and the stock and raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil.
While the pot heats, place caraway, marjoram, thyme, parsley stems, garlic and bay leaves in a piece of cheese cloth and secure with twine and add to the pot.
Once heated, reduce to a simmer and cook 45 minutes being careful not to let it stick to the bottom. For the last 15 minutes, we put a heat diffuser under the pot.
After the beef cooks for 45 minutes, add the potatoes and cook 20-25 minutes longer or until the potatoes are cooked through. Make sure to use the heat diffuser and stir to keep it from sticking. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Remove and discard spice bag.
Serve with sour cream and scallions on top, and Russian rye or pumpernickel bread on the side.