I am at an advantage in that I have easy access to some of Europe’s most treasured cities. The ‘city’ itself can be a dual narrative of miseries and delights; a charming cafe tucked in a filthy side street, a vibrant market in a grey neighbourhood. Exploring a new city means being amidst a swarm of bodies, tiresome on the pavement yet fascinating from a vantage point. The footfall in these concrete domains acts as fuel for creative energy, big ideas and new concepts. In big cities you will find dirt, dust and aggression in as much abundance as you will find soul, drive and artistry. For me, it is worth braving the drone of a city for the potential of the gems it may harbour.
Vienna is a grand place, a city with self-assurance and rightly so. Musical legacy, grandiose architecture and a rich history make Vienna an attractive place to visit. A lively creative community, culture of innovation and slick infrastructure make Vienna an attractive place to live. My primary interest when visiting a city is, of course, it’s food offerings, cafe culture and gastronomic scene. If you happen to have an alternative diet Vienna will welcome you in particular. I can tell you that there is a world beyond overpriced schnitzel and traditional Viennese coffee houses (although don’t necessarily overlook these things, they have their charm).
A February weekend in Austria is not for the fainthearted, there is a reason you will see people bundled up in furs as they walk the Viennese streets. If it weren’t for the lights and logos of the 21st century you would feel as though you had strayed into a different time.Trams clatter past, street musicians play and the air threatens snow.
Outside of the buzzing centre, side streets lead to quiet, leafy crescents and, in front of the city hall, winter food stalls sell traditional Viennese cuisine to pink-cheeked visitors.This is the place to find Spaetzle (a soft egg noodle-cum-dumpling that will remind you of gnocchi) cooked in cream, mulled wine and Kaiserschmarnn (a sweet, fluffy shredded pancake). Here we also found pastries stuffed with kurd cheese and apricot or a mohn paste (sweet poppy seed filling) as well as fire roasted salmon served over potatoes with cream.
Pastries at the Winter Market
I can recommend the friendly, humble atmosphere of Tanzen Anders for coffee and lunchtime food or the lively, vintage vibe of The Pure Living bakery for bagels and cake. Try Naschsalon or Tart ‘a tata for homespun patisserie.
Lunch at Tanzen Anders
For coffee try Brass Monkey, if you can find yourself a seat, or visit the Wiener Rosthaus where you can sniff varieties of beans and marvel at the coffee-making paraphernalia whilst you wait.
For interesting shops, with coffee on the side, have a look at The Vienna Globe or Rabbit Eye Movement, both boast the work of local artists and will warmly welcome interest in their business.
Patisserie from Tart ‘a tata
For alternative diets book a table at Gasthaus Zum Wohl and choose from a gluten and dairy free menu that feature vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian choices. For Sunday brunch, head to Cafe Der Provinz where £10 or so will get you access to an organic breakfast buffet of meats, cheeses, vegan waffles, buckwheat crepes, breads and fruit.
Patisserie from Naschsalon
Cake at the Pure Living Bakery
Kaiserschmarrn at the Winter Market
Breakfast at Cafe Der Provinz