Posts Tagged With: foodie

Vienna Kaffehaus Series: Part 2 – Café Prückel

After a pleasant early evening walk around Stadtpark, I was torn between going back to my apartment and wait a while and go out again for dinner, or just go and have something to eat right then since I was already out and about. Then I saw Café Prückel’s brightly lit sign, and my self-debate was over.

Established in 1904, this classic Vienna coffeehouse is favorably situated right on the Ringstrasse across the Museum of Applied Arts, AKA The Mak. I situated myself at the nearest open table adjacent to the piano. Moon River was playing, and I immediately sunk into the café’s 1950’s atmosphere. Designed by Oswald Haerdtl, who was one of the leading designers and architects of his time, Café Prückel’s minimalist décor only accentuated by the glittering crystal chandeliers appealed to my taste. I heard that not much has changed in the interior since.

The waitress asked if I needed an English menu; she got this foreigner pegged, which isn’t so hard since Asians are the stereotypical tourists in this neck of the European woods. I wasn’t very hungry, so I ordered a glass of rose and an apple strudel. Sensing a theme, aren’t you?

My order came quickly and already had made some observations about the other patrons around me. There was a couple seated at the table in front of me directly underneath the chandelier. They looked like they were on a date. There was also a pair of ladies seated by the window who seem to be involved in some sort of business-related discussion with one of them as the client of the other. Eavesdropping was fruitless as they were speaking German. I could only surmise that the blond lady with the tablet was showing her client some sort of proposals. My guess would be that she was an interior designer.

Now let’s go back to that apple strudel. It was delightful – not too sweet, but sweet enough. The apples were not overcooked and the texture was great. Everyone would probably tell me to have coffee with it, it surprisingly went very well with the rosé, which was written on the menu as Blauer Portugieser – Rosé Passioné. With a name like that and, by my calculation, it was cheaper than water, it was something I had to have. 😉

Cafe Prückel’s Apfelstrudel

A glass of rosé was cheaper than water.

Relishing the moment with my glass of wine while the music produced by the pianist resonated across the whole café, I could not help but pinch myself just to make sure I was not dreaming. I was well into my strudel and Moon River was still playing. It was like having it on repeat, but it was live piano music. I didn’t mind it because I absolutely adore that music and to be listening to it being played in a Viennese coffeehouse amidst all the chattering diners and clanging of dishes … at that very moment, I felt so alive.

I consumed my strudel and was already feeling the slight buzz of the wine. (Yeah, I’m a lightweight.) It was damn good wine. It was still early in the evening and to ensure that I still remember my way back to my apartment, I knew I had to counter the wine with some coffee. I got myself an espresso, which was called the Original Prückel Crème. Quite a popular item, it’s essentially a small espresso served in a special glass with a side of quality cream. It was strong but without the overwhelming bitter finish. I loved it!

the Original Prückel Creme

After downing my espresso, I took my time in requesting for my check. I love how in these cafes, I never felt rushed. I had a few moments to jot some notes about this experience.  Taking advantage of the free Wi-fi, I uploaded a few mobile photos. I finally asked for my bill, paid  and even tipped the waitress since she was quite nice to me and attentive.  (In Europe, tipping is not required; it is up to the customer based on the quality of service received.)

The mesmerizing chandelier dominating the room.

I exited the café feeling revived and thinking to myself, “Wow, I really had my Vienna moment in there!” In hindsight, Café Prückel is not as posh as the other classic Viennese coffeehouses, but to me, that is what makes it charming. With its modernist décor plus the comfy corner seats, it was the place where I would return and find myself spending hours with a good book.

Categories: Eat, Europe, Experience, Vienna | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vienna Kaffehaus Series: Part 1 – Café Landtmann

Intro to the Series:

For years now, I have called the Seattle area as my home and my love for good coffee is irrevocable. Coming to Vienna, I had my heart set on spending good time in at least one Kaffehaus, for I have read much about how these institutions play an integral part in Viennese culture. And that’s on top of the benefits of a good cup of caffeinated beverage, which is a necessity for weary travelers like myself.

In 1900, Vienna had over 600 coffeehouses and have become an institution. Intellectuals and creative souls like Sigmund Freud and Gustav Klimt frequented these places boosting their popularity. There was no question that I had to partake and experience this 300-year-old tradition and savor Vienna’s coffee culture. So during my stay, I managed to hit four of these institutions and even returned to one for seconds. While I initially intended to write about all four in one entry, there is just so much details about my experience that I want to share; hence, a series of entries is necessary. So here goes the first part.

Café Landtmann

Located right along the Ringstrasse directly across the historic Burgtheater, I opted to sit outside. It was a crisp autumn morning, which I thought was perfect for a good up of coffee and soup. I ordered a cup of their Pumpkin Cream Soup, which arrived promptly. I also asked for a Wiener Melange, which is similar to a cappuccino. By definition, it is supposed to be equal parts steamed milk and foam with a dusting of cocoa powder.

Pumpkin Cream Soup: A comforting nod to fall.

Wiener Melange: light and frothy but not short on caffeine.

The Landtmann is the sole remaining café from the original Ringstrasse, the circular boulevard that Emperor Franz Josef had built where the city walls once were. Founded in 1873 by Franz Landtmann, this Viennese institution is still one of the most popular in the city with contemporary regulars like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sir Paul McCartney. Now owned by the Querfeld family, the place exudes elegance. The waiter politely left the English menu after I have put in my initial order. The soup I had was the perfect remedy after that slightly chilly walk from Opernring. The coffee, though milder than I usually prefer, was smooth and comforting.

Cafe Landtmann: There was some construction going on but not a huge hindrance.

My view of the Burgtheater from my table.

Where I was seated, I had the luxury of admiring the architecture of the theater and other surrounding buildings.  When I was done with my soup, I beckoned the server and ordered an apple strudel (apfelstrudel). This was when it got a little weird. He asked me one more time just to confirm that I really wanted an apple strudel, and it was not the tone that someone uses if they missed what you were saying. It was the tone of, “Are you sure you want an apple strudel?” It’s as if in his mind, this short Asian lady would never be able to handle her strudel after a small bowl of soup and some bread. Frankly, I was getting a little annoyed by this, but I stayed civil with him and confirmed my request.

He came back with my apple strudel shortly. And darn it, that strudel was good. (Confession: I don’t like apple pie; I find it too sweet and overloaded with cinnamon all the time. Yeah, very un-American of me, but just live with it.) This apple strudel made me happy. The layer of thinly sliced apples stacked and encased in a paper-thin crust propelled me to an Austrian grandmother’s kitchen. I didn’t leave a single crumb on my plate. Take that, you nosy waiter!

Cafe Landtmann Apple Strudel

The apple strudel that caused some contention.

After I wiped my plate clean, I asked for my check. The server was very nice to me this time. I’m pretty sure he was impressed by the damage I had done though to me, it really was nothing. I wonder what he would have thought if I had ordered a giant helping of goulash before dessert? His head would have probably exploded.

Overall, I was pleased with Cafe Landtmann. I could have been put off by the waiter, but I showed him who was boss. Offering free Wi-fi to to their patrons surely helped. I was glad that I stopped by for a light meal there to observe and absorb. I don’t think it is a place for any schmuck to just roll in, but then again, Vienna has sophistication down to a science.  Would I go back? Probably. Its location is perfect for a pre-theater meal and/or a romantic evening out, and I would never pass an opportunity to spend some time in place where history’s greats hung out.

Categories: Eat, Europe, Experience, Vienna | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eating Oahu

I love food. I mean, who doesn’t? So to me, traveling means getting my fill on local grub and exploring the culinary hotspots. My first post about our trip to Oahu is rightfully dedicated to food. This is truly the first trip that we took that we had pretty clear ideas on what we must and want to try to eat.

Oahu’s food scene is incredible. At the height of Oahu’s plantation days, laborers from China, Japan, Russia, Korea, Puerto Rico, Portugal, and the Philippines brought with them their unique culinary traditions, thus resulting in a very diverse food culture. Having grown up in the Philippines, I was looking forward to the flavors that one can only naturally enjoy in the tropics like guava, coconut, mango, and pineapple.

So here are some photos from our gastronomical adventures while visiting the island of Oahu:

Malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery: soft and squishy fried donuts brought to the island by the Portuguese

Chirashi Bowl at Morimoto Waikiki: like having a party of the freshest fish in a bowl. AMAZING Iron Chef quality.

The town of Kahuku at the northern end the island is known for their shrimp farms. They grow all the shrimp and supply all of Oahu’s restaurants. Shrimp trucks and shacks have boomed in recent years, and based on our research, we had to stop and try the famous garlic butter shrimp.

Butter Garlic Shrimp from Romy’s Shrimp Shack served with spicy shoyu. I’m drooling right now as I write just looking at this photo.

Another North Shore establishment is Ted’s Bakery. Apart from their amazing baked goods, they also serve some legit local faves.

Loco Moco at Ted’s Bakery: a hamburger patty on a bed of rice topped with a fried egg then slathered with savory gravy. Ono!

Guava Smoothie at Ted’s Bakery: no doubt about it — guava flavor through and through!

Chocolate Haupia Pie at Ted’s Bakery: I’m not the biggest pie fan, but this one is out of this world! These layers of heaven is comprised of chocolate, coconut pudding, and whipped cream. You owe it to yourself to have a slice… or have the whole pie! Photo courtesy of Foodspotting.

In Hawaii, small plates and appetizers are what they call pupus. I know, right? You might question the edibility since it sounds like something you would find in the toilet. But hey, don’t worry, when someone mentions bringing you a pupu platter; it is a tray of Hawaiian style hors d’oeuvres. Here’s a couple of pupu photos. 😉

Calamari Steak

Panko-breaded Calamari Steak at Lei Lei’s Bar & Grill: it’s like calamari katsu served with tangy and mildly spicy cocktail sauce.

Ahi Poke at Lei Lei’s Bar & Grill: it’s melt-in-your mouth, lightly seasoned ahi tuna. WANT!

After a long day of beach bumming, there’s nothing like a giant helping of Shave Ice. It’s the Hawaiian take of  snow cones. We went to Matsumoto’s General Store, a North Shore institution famous for their shave ice. Although we heard that Aoki’s, which is spitting distance from Matsumoto’s, is also comparably good.

Stuart and his Rainbow shave ice. — Yes, I had to make fun of his choice. It’s actually a cocktail of strawberry, lemon, and pineapple.

This is my shave ice from Matsumoto’s, which I believe has passion fruit, lilikoi, and guava flavors. Quite festive and yummy!

SPAM and rice for breakfast is a Hawaiian thing, and we love it. We admittedly were excited to go back to a place where the local McDonald’s has rice, SPAM, and eggs in the breakfast menu. (Don’t judge!) Of course, we didn’t have that every morning for breakfast. I knew I had to have some breakfast staple with a Hawaiian twist to it: Macadamia Nut French Toast.

Macadamia Nut French Toast: warm and rich french toast sprinkled with toasted macadamia nuts.

Let’s not forget the fruit stands peppered around the island. While on the North Shore, I made my husband stop by one, so I could buy some fresh mango, pineapples, and star apples.

Kahuku Land Farms Fruit Stand: Wished I had multiple stomachs. Being there sent me back to my childhood visiting my grandparents’ farm in the summer time.

And these are what I got: a mango, three star apples (known as kaimito in the Philippines), and pineapple.

I apologize for the photo quality. All of these were taken with my iPhone. Some of them I left out for this post because they were too blurry and wouldn’t give the food any sort of justice. But as you can see, Stuart and I ate our way around the island of Oahu, and we are quite pleased with the damage we’ve done. 🙂 Every time we think of this trip, remembering all the great food we had always brings smiles to our faces. Mahalo!

Categories: Eat, Experience, Hawaii, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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