Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Vienna Day II
The morning was crispy, but manageable, as far as the weather was concerned. Before heading out into the hat-hunting weather, breakfast was had in the hotel dining room. Although others may argue this point, I actually enjoyed the rustic (read: somewhat falling down, basement of someone with a mullet) type feel to the room, and the food - despite being replete in soy milk, was actually quite lovely, and included in the room price. There was a table in the middle of the room laid out with your run of the mill fruit selection, a big bowl of muesli and a variety of cold meats and cheese, jams and other spreadables (including Europe's answer to peanut butter - nuttela) were available. I grabbed a bowl of the muesli and a banana, which I sliced into the cereal - asking the uniformed waitress (with her impressive mantle of flaming red hair) to furnish this little vegan with a cup of boiling water - done and done: Oatmeal. The waitress brings each guest a little platter with an assortment of breads, tea or coffee and some ham spread - just what I needed.

After the ham spread option the museum quarter was explored, but no time was really spent - beyond some meandering with the pachyderms, none of whom were sharing the mystery of the austro-hungarian empire. Buggars. I even offered them peanuts.

The coolest part of this ancient part of Europe was the cornered off section just outside of the palace gates where the ruins of a first century Roman road still exist.

Lunch was a beautiful and wonderful thing. It seems that the heavy and traditional food of Austria has not defied the talents of some vegans. Just to the south of the Jewish monument is The Bio Bar. This family run business (cousin in the kitchen, cousin serving) was quite impressive. Not just because the food was fantastic (from the hot chocolate to the coconut balls...fantastic), but because they manage to extend beyond the trendy fashion food of LIVE and Fresh (I love you, but you are a style) and actually offer healthy and happy vegan food in the tradition of their culture. The whole atmosphere spoke of an authenticity - from the vegan literature and half cut up pumpkins exposed in the in-view-of-customers refrigerator, to the waitress named Lily who kept calling you darling and the crazy haired chef humpfing and humping around the grotto-like kitchen. I had an amazing meal, though I am not sure what exactly it was....potatoes, peppers, roasted tofu, onion. Excellent. You just knew that this was REAL....not just a veg option that meant you had to eat the over processed veggie burger that the restaurant stocks so that they can tell the guide books that they are a vegetarian restaurant.

The vegan hot chocolate was brilliant and the pumpkin soup was out of this world. My most wonderful lunch partner ordered the most interesting dish: A vegan version of Knuddel, served with a cabbage and apple dish.

Overall - an amazing meal and great service. Really impressed and recommend it to any vegan visitor of Vienna.
B and A met up with us at St. Stephens and we headed straight for a little beer garden close to our hotel. After a few hours of good chatting and a smelly waiter we needed some food and failed, finding our initial destination closed at 7 on a Saturday....what? We eventually settled on a vegetarian Chinese restaurant where the waitresses liked cash and indulged Bernie in his Mandarin. We, being pressed for time, ordered the easy Meal for 4 and we impressed with most of the food included in the smorgasbord of dinner. I really liked the cucumber salad - reminded me so much of hanging out in Beihai.....
We grabbed a cab to the GASOMETER, where Arcade Fire was awaiting us. A great show. Really well done.

No comments: