As it turned out, last night found me at dinner again with Jane, her husband Phil, and R (somebody from Cincinnati). We took the advice of their Rick Steves guidebook, and searched out a place called St Pauls Stube. It took some looking to find, after which we had to climb a stairway and go through an unmarked door. Upon entering, we were in a cramped, poorly lit dining hall that clearly attracted a lot of locals. Due to the absence of seats in the main building, we sat at picnic tables outside.
I started with beer, this time a dark wheat beer that I could really sink my teeth into. On a side note, I’ve been drinking beer with dinner the last few nights, because that has seemed to more closely fit the atmosphere of the restaurant. It seems wrong somehow to go to a bierhaus or tavern and order wine. I will eventually turn again to the local Rieslings and Gruners, but so far it has been a good decision and last night certainly didn’t disappoint.
Dinner was the tafelspitz. This is an Austrian specialty of boiled meat (beef) that is said to “reflect the soul of the empire.” Boiled meat alone would be boring, and I certainly wouldn’t want my life summed up as such. Fortunately, it was accompanied by browned root vegetables, spinach, sour cream, and a generous shaving of horseradish. A note on the latter …. I was not aware it was such when I dove in with a big mouthful, and suspect my sinuses will be open for at least the next few days.
After the main course we had topfenknödel. These are deep fried balls of mildly sweet cheese served with fruit. In this case applesauce and raspberry. A-ha! This is also what I had for dessert at Carpe Diem. We all really enjoyed it. The cheese has just a touch of sweetness, and it’s dry rather than gooey. Given the ongoing theme of remarkably heavy dumplings, one would think these would be lethally heavy, but they aren’t. Rather they are surprisingly light. These Austrians are full of surprises.
On the side of this dish was a little berry that looked like one of the “Chinese lanterns” mom pulled out of the yard years ago. She had always claimed the berries were poisonous, but I’ve recently learned that they aren’t. These berries are members of the gooseberry and tomatillo family. I couldn’t wait to try it …. And wow, I won’t do that again! It started with a tart cherry-like sweetness that was really nice, then deteriorated to an incredible unquenchable bitterness. Disastrous! As I think about it now, maybe I did something wrong and bit into a seed or something. Perhaps I should try one more time….
On our way out of the restaurant, we passed through the main hall, which was now full of raucous people singing wholeheartedly in German. Clearly we had chosen wisely, and I hope I am able to continue to do so going forward.
March 13, 2021
I don’t remember who R was. I think she was a friend of Jane and Phil. My writing in some of these early blogs isn’t yet mature. It eventually gets better, but at least there are some things here that make me laugh.