Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ein Herlich Heuriger Evening

[click to enlarge] For our last group meal in Vienna, we all went out to a heuriger. Originally these were establishments for a vineyard where the newest wine was served (heurig means this year). They can only sell their own wine, and they generally have a limited selection of dishes served from a buffet. I'm going define these as Austria's answer to the wineries you can find in Napa and Sonoma and other places in the states -- completely different atmosphere and clientele, but has the same place in the culture. There are many places around Vienna with heurigen; we went to a traditional area to the north called Grinzing (near where Beethoven lived later in life). When a heuriger is open, they will hang a pine bough out front, and people know they're open for business. If there is music, it must be live music, typically one or two singers who accompany themselves on accordion or guitar, walking by the tables taking requests*. Feuerwehr Wagner was a recommendation from our inside sources in Vienna, and it turned out to be great. We had an entire hedged section for our group, there was a huge selection of yummy food, the servers wore traditional dirndls, and not least, there was a spielplatz in back for the kids with slides, swings and a whiplash-inducing zipline.
Here was our table -- an embarrassment of riches. I had the chanterelle strudel with green sauce, because where else am I going to find that? But everything I tried was wonderful, like the spinach and feta strudel, potato salad, cucumber salad, steak fries, and apple and apricot strudels with vanilla sauce. Rob had a pork knuckle stuffed with knodel, but I myself cannot love a knodel, though I have tried. The students almost all scrammed after eating, muttering about homework and other nonsense. The Isaaks, the McFarlands, and a select few students stuck around for some card games like killer Uno and golf. It was a lovely evening visiting the vorstadt.

*A long time ago in a heuriger not so far away, Rob was a starry-eyed German language instructor on the 1992 Study Abroad. A BYU official had come to town and the director and teachers were all invited out to dinner. When the musicians came around asking for requests, the director suggested a string of obscure, scholarly musical works they'd never heard of. Rob suggested a typical local lied which they seized upon as the only recognizable song. It made the director go 'grrrr' that he couldn't impress the BYU official with his vast knowledge of obscure music, and that this young upstart managed to find something the musicians knew. But that is one of the dangers of dealing with the autodidact that is der Profi Rob.Posted by Picasa

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