Wien: Week 2 – THE FOOD ISSUE

Second week in Vienna down!

I must point out that the German pronunciation of certain letters is different from English. For instance, I’ve titled my posts “Wien – Week X”. W’s are pronounced V’s, so it actually reads “Veen“. Wien means “Vienna” in German.

Other pronunciation funnies:

  • V’s are pronounced F’s (ie. “Folksvagen” vs. Volkswagen)
  • J’s are pronounced Y’s (ie. “Yordan” vs. Jordan)
  • S’s are pronounced Z’s (ie. “Zophie” vs. Sophie)
  • Z’s are pronounced “ts” (ie. “Tsurich” vs. Zurich)
  • ß is pronounced “ss” – it’s not a “B” (ie. Straße = “Strasse“)
  • and some others………..

I’m definitely glad I learned some German before coming to Austria. It’s really helped me semi-understand people here. I do notice a different accent though, between “Germany” German and “Austria” German. There’s some eastern European flair in the Austrian variety, with rolled R’s and different vowel intonation (I could also be completely wrong about this.. just me and my foreigner ear).

Produce stand right outside the Simmeringer U-bahn stop, about three stops away from us

Produce stand right outside the Simmeringer U-bahn stop.. yummm

Above is an awesome produce stand near Jason’s residence. I believe it’s there Monday – Saturday, from morning to late afternoon. It’s actually quite competitively priced compared to the neighbouring supermarkets! So far, we’ve only bought some spinach and watermelon from the stand, but it tasted very fresh. I haven’t seen many stands like this around the city, but I’m glad it’s only 3 metro stops away from us. So excited to buy more from this place.

Speaking of food and produce, every Austrian I’ve met says that the food quality is very high in Austria, and that the standards are quite strict for producers and manufacturers. To be honest, I was surprised when I heard this because my first impression of Austrian food was Wiener Schnitzel, Kartoffelsalat (potato salad), and beer.. seemingly not the most nutritious meal out there. But after seeing the fairly high quality of supermarket produce, the abundance of organic options and even the healthier snacks (potato chips are less salty and flavourful here…. must mean they’re healthier…), I’m pretty convinced that the locals are correct. As well, I’ve noticed that many of the supermarket pricetags boast an Austrian flag, meaning that product was grown or manufactured in Austria.

We’ve been trying to cook as much as possible, not only to be cost-effective but also to be somewhat healthy. So far, most of our dinners have been pasta (easiest thing for us to throw together), but I think it’s about time to diversify or else we’ll get so sick of pasta, we won’t have an appetite for it if (when) we go to Italy!

We cooked our "classy" meal at Jason's residence - an assortment of meat/veggies in penne with bolognese sauce with some chardonnay to drink

Our “classy” meal at Jason’s – an assortment of meat/veggies in penne with bolognese sauce and some chardonnay to drink

Ikea Swedish meatballs / veggies / bowtie pasta

Swedish meatballs (yes, we made a trip to Ikea) / carrots / spinach / bowtie pasta

"Elaborate" breakfast: eggs, toast, Swedish meatballs (so versatile!)

“Elaborate” breakfast: eggs, toast, Swedish meatballs (they’re so versatile!), lingonberry sauce

Amazing sandwich for brunch that Amanda made: Gouda / zucchini / orange peppers / egg grilled right into the bread

Amazing sandwich for brunch that Amanda made: Gouda / zucchini / peppers / egg grilled right into the bread

more elaborate dinner that Jason and I made: beef cubes / spaghetti à la bolognese / sautéed zucchini, carrots and tomato with balsamic dressing

More elaborate dinner that Jason and I made: beef cubes / spaghetti à la bolognese / sautéed zucchini, carrots and tomato with balsamic dressing

We’ve encountered some Asian cuisine in the last two weeks. There are still relatively a lot more kebab / donair stands around because of the Turkish & mediterranean influence, but there are more Asian restaurants than I thought there would be. But then again, I’m not so shocked, because Asian. People. Are. Everywhere.

A few days ago we tried Vietnamese pho!! We came across it on some random street while walking around, and we were really craving some hot, soupy, noodle-y goodness as a result of the partying that occurred the night before. It was called Nguyen’s Pho House. Verdict: it was actually pretty good! The menu was simple, unlike the pages and pages of options offered in a typical Vietnamese restaurant in Vancouver. We had a simple beef pho and it came with all the regular adornments: bean sprouts, basil, oyster sauce, hot sauce, lemon (instead of lime). It tasted a bit different from home, but it was still very satisfying. We didn’t order anything else, but I would have liked to try a salad roll or some vermicelli. The cooks looked Vietnamese, so that was a good sign. The only thing is, it was a big pricey: it cost €7.90 ($11-12 CAD) for the equivalent of a Small size in Vancouver. In comparison, at the cafeteria on campus at WU, you can get a filling meal for about €5. Ok this post is really starting to sound like a food review blog.

Regular beef pho - not too shabby for Europe!

Regular beef pho – not too shabby for Europe!

Nguyen's Pho House with friends from Hong Kong and Belgium

Nguyen’s Pho House with friends from Hong Kong and Belgium. Steveston shirt represent!

Jason also had some Korean food a few days ago. He said it tasted good, but it was also pricey compared to home. Next on our list is Japanese food and Chinese food!

On Monday we formally began the Orientation and Cultural Program with WU. Here was our schedule this week:

  • Monday
    • Listened to a lecture from a WU prof about Austrian history and politics. Fun fact: many Austrians aren’t familiar with the Sound of Music!
    • Intercultural training session meant to familiarize ourselves with Austrian culture and open our minds when it comes to different cultures
  • Tuesday
    • Registration for our student cards. It was a madhouse of international students because they opened it up to all 200 of us in one afternoon.
  • Wednesday
    • Walking tour through Vienna’s city centre – learned about the emphasis of “opposites” in St. Stephan’s Cathedral’s gothic design
      Can you spot the opposites?

      Can you spot the opposites? They are subtle.

      Meeting place for day 1: Museumsquartier

      Meeting place for day 1: Museumsquartier

      Sitting in the throne at the top of this statue: Maria Theresa, the only female empress of the Habsburg family era. She had 16 children and married them off strategically to nobles in other countries to acquire more land around Europe. This was common for the Habsburgs.

      Sitting in the throne at the top of this statue (back facing us): Maria Theresa, the only female empress of the Habsburg family era. She had 16 children and married them off strategically to nobles in other countries to acquire more land around Europe. This was common for the Habsburgs and the key to their empire’s success.

      Austrian National Library. A copy of everything and anything published in Austria must be sent to the National Library, even Master's theses!

      Austrian National Library. A copy of everything and anything published in Austria must be sent to the National Library, even Master’s theses!

      Vienna was built on top of these Roman ruins

      Vienna was built on top of these Roman ruins

    • Walked along Kohlmarkt, the most expensive street and “Champs Elysées” of Vienna

      Looking down Kohlmarkt

      Looking down Kohlmarkt

    • Visited Demel, a famous pastry shop and chocolaterie in Vienna
      Pastries.... Cakes... Tartes... Mmmmm....

      Pastries…. Cakes… Tartes… Mmmmm…. Demel

      My Nusskaffeetorte at Demel. Nutty, coffee-y, I wasn't aware it had some alcohol in it...

      My Nusskaffeetorte at Demel. Nutty, coffee-y, I wasn’t aware it had some alcohol in it…

      Demel: Friends from SFU, Hong Kong, China, Belgium, Vietnam/Australia, Japan

      Demel: Friends from SFU, Hong Kong, China, Belgium, Vietnam/Australia, Japan

      At Demel you can see them making sugar art

      At Demel you can watch them make sugar art

      Weird sugar art at Demel.

      Bizarre and hilarious sugar art at Demel

  • Thursday
    • Walking tour through Vienna’s State Opera House – where you can get a standing ticket to watch the opera for only €4, but the downside is you can only buy this ticket 80 minutes before the show starts, and you must stand for 2+ hours in the back of the theatre to watch.
      Luxurious decor inside the Vienna State Opera House

      Luxurious decor inside the Vienna State Opera House

      Tearoom inside the opera house that you can rent: €500 for 20 minutes. There was once a 20-minute wedding in there.

      Tearoom inside the opera house that you can rent: €500 for 20 minutes. There was once a 20-minute wedding in there.

      And the following God to symbolize capitalism... Lexus. (kidding... dat #sponsorship doe)

      And the following God to symbolize capitalism… Lexus. (kidding… dat #sponsorship doe)

      The only time I will sit in such a good position at the opera house... unless I pay €200 for a seat.

      The only time I will sit in such a good position at the opera house… unless I pay €200 for a seat.

  • Friday
    • Day trip to Graz: the second largest city next to Vienna, about a 2 hour drive for us. Full of history and currently a hub for contemporary art and design.
      Graz Cathedral

      Graz Cathedral

      Double-spiral staircase, a masterpiece of stone masonry. Hardly anything like it in the world!

      Double-spiral staircase, a masterpiece of stone masonry. Hardly anything like it in the world!

      They say if you and your significant other climb the stairs together and kiss at the top, you will have eternal love. Haha.

      They say if you and your significant other climb the stairs together and kiss at the top, you will have eternal love. Haha.

      Red rooftops in Graz, some dating back to the 17th century!

      Red rooftops in Graz, some dating back to the 17th century!

      The oldest bakery in Graz, (date on the right - "Since 1569")

      The oldest bakery in Graz (date on the right – “Since 1569”)

      Looking down a street in Graz

      Looking down a street in Graz

      Authentic Austrian lunch in Graz. I can't remember what this dish is called... kind of like macaroni and cheese with crispy onions. So cheezy and delicious.

      Authentic Austrian lunch in Graz. I can’t remember what this dish is called… kind of like macaroni and cheese with crispy onions. So cheezy and carb-y and delicious.

      Apfelstrudel. Mmmmm.

      Apfelstrudel for dessert. Mmmmm.

      Austrian lunch with friends from Belgium, SFU, Spain

      Austrian lunch with friends from Belgium, SFU, Spain. Our group filled up most of the restaurant!

    • Zotter Chocolate Factory: tour of the factory and all its eclectic decor. 400+ flavours created since the company’s inception (ie. flavours containing chilli, rose petals, fruits, nuts, ginger, sesame, coconut, etc). The company has been organic and fair trade since 2002. After all that sampling, we hardly felt like buying anything at the gift shop. We were all chocolate’d out. But of course I still bought some.
      Outside Zotter Chocolate Factory

      Exterior of Zotter Chocolate Factory

      We got this cute spoon and a booklet to record our favourite chocolates.. so we could buy them at the gift shop later of course.

      We got this cute spoon and a booklet to record our favourite chocolates.. so we could buy them at the gift shop later of course.

      A lingerie conveyor belt - part of the eclectic design of the Zotter Chocolate Factory

      A lingerie conveyor belt on the ceiling – part of the eclectic decor inside the Zotter Chocolate Factory

      Burlap sacs and sacs of cocoa beans

      Burlap sacs of cocoa beans

      The tour brought us through the entire process of chocolate-making. We could sample along the way. These cocoa beans were sooo bitter.

      The tour brought us through the entire process of chocolate-making. We could sample along the way. These cocoa beans were sooo bitter.

      Samples on samples on samples. Do you see the chocolate fountains on the lower level?

      Samples on samples on samples. Do you see the chocolate fountains on the lower level?

      Mmmm... chocolate.

      Mmmm… chocolate.

      Endless Chocolate!

      Endless Chocolate!

This post was largely revolved around food. Given this, Jason and I signed up for a gym membership today. Gyms are pretty expensive in Vienna, and there are no community centres in the city. The cheapest membership we could find was €20 / month, a special deal for temporary university students, at a gym called McFit. Apparently there are McFit franchises all across Europe, so maybe we’ll get some workouts in during Oktoberfest in Munich. Or not.

Next week, there are more walking tours and daytrips. Although these group tours can be slow and crowded, it’s still nice to converse with peers from all over the world.

We’ve begun planning for weekend trips in Europe (Salzburg, Munich, Prague, Amsterdam to mention a few), yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Next blog post: Vienna: Belvedere, Ottakringer Brewery, Fritz Kreisler International Competition, Biking along the Danube, Schönbrunn Palace, Melk

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Wien: Week 2 – THE FOOD ISSUE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s