Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The wonders of Viennese pastries

"The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star."        -- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, French lawyer and epicure

I couldn't agree more!  I am still reveling in the happy discovery I made at Cafe Sabarsky just last month.  A dear friend had brought me there as a postlude to a birthday lunch.  (The cafe, nestled inside the Neue Gallerie (a museum of early twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design), offers up a menu of Viennese specialties, both savory and sweet: one can indulge in goulash, spaetzle, wurste, chocolate tortes, strudels and more.)

How do I describe the desserts we ordered that day except to say that with one bite -- one mere bite -- my mind was flung open wide to the wonders of Viennese pastries.  The apple strudel had layers upon layers of paper-thin flaky dough. The yielding crust gave way to cinnamon-spiced crisp-tender apples; strewn into the moist filling were some raisins and chopped nuts.  Not to be outdone, the Sachertorte also served up exquisiteness in layers: a velvety chocolate ganache, a dark chocolate sponge cake, and in-between a spread of apricot confiture.  Each dessert was accompanied by a generous mound of whipped cream.

This happy discovery has lingered far beyond that celebratory day.  Gone now are mid-day reminiscences of strolls in Paris, a croissant (or two) in hand.  Instead, I now dream of Viennese pastries.  And quite literally so: having learned that the Hotel Sacher in Vienna delivers the sachertorte worldwide (really!), I dreamt that I made arrangements to have one delivered to me here in NYC.  

But that might not be necessary, at least not yet: April will see me in Munich, and I've scrapped plans for a side trip to Berlin (long on my travel list) in favor of dallying a while in Vienna, to indulge yet again in Viennese pastries.

And so, here I sign off, in anticipation of penning a happy postscript postcard from Vienna.

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