Coffee & Culinary Delights

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In almost every country I have explored during my travels, I have discovered culinary delicacies that are unique to each place. In France it’s the wine and cheese. Italy is famous for pasta and gelato while fish and chips hold the popularity record in England. Beer and bratwurst dominate the culinary choices in Germany whereas Spaniards favor paella and tapas. Americans love their steaks and hot dogs. Quite a contrast to the vegetarian banquet of curry flavored India.
And here in Austria? The Wiener Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten and all kind of strudels vie for the top spot among culinary delights. But the undisputed favorites come in many shapes and forms of sweet dough from the thousands of hot bakery ovens across the green valleys and snow capped mountains of this former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
So, stepping into any Austrian Coffee house one can still feel the lingering finesse of those imperial days. Fine, wood furniture and elegant décor frame a scrumptious display of picture perfect cream pastries, fruit tarts and nut and chocolate coated cakes in lit up display cases.
Such was the enticing sight at our Kaffeeklatsch in the coffee flavored air of Café Jindrak, the original home of Linz’s most famous cake, the Linzer Torte. The story goes that this creation, born of a dough containing butter, eggs, flour, sugar, lemon grind, hazel nuts, almonds, cinnamon and clove dates back to the year 1619. More than six decades later, coffee made its way into Austria after the second Turkish occupation of Vienna. When the defeated Turks withdrew from the battle field coffee beans were found amidst weapons and tents. Soon hereafter, these beans were roasted and brewed into coffee, the first coffeehouse opened in Vienna and a culture was born that has prospered ever since, spanning centuries, generations and continents.
Today, more than three hundred years after the first cup of coffee premiered in Vienna, this dark brewed beverage has become the most popular hot drink around the globe, with cappuccino, café latte, café au lait and espresso leading the choices of regular coffee consumers. But glancing over the coffee menu at Café Jindrak, I can imagine tourists scratching their heads wondering about the differences between Kleiner Brauner, Grosser Brauner, Verlängerter, Mélange and Häferlkaffee. A shot or two of espresso goes into the cup first. The Kleiner Brauner (Small black coffee) gets one shot of espresso and the Grosser Brauner (Big black coffee) two.  Both of them are served black, without milk. A Verlängerter consists of one espresso shot and the double amount of water than in a regular espresso. This watered down espresso is generally served black with cream on the side. Mélange, made from a light brown roast, is cappuccino’s twin sister with equal parts of espresso and hot milk, topped with natural milk foam. Häferlkaffee is a Verlängerter crowned with whipped cream. Once you have decided which one to pick and the silver tray arrives in the hands of a charming waitress, you will notice a glass of water next to the steaming cup. Because of coffee’s diuretic qualities, every traditional Austrian coffee house serves water to help compensate for the loss of body liquids while the patrons savor all the rich flavors of these invigorating blends.

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3 responses »

  1. Yum 🙂 Send some this way please! Glad you are enjoying your time in Austria. We are in full swing at Emerson – it is not the same without you 🙂 Miss you much, Susan

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