Tewa – Naschmarkt – Vienna, Austria

Te Wa Sign

Situated smack dab in the center of Vienna’s Naschmarkt, Tewa feels suspiciously like it’s on a tourist clogged street in Mykonos.  Well, Mykonos or somewhere that organic, freshly prepared, Mediterranean food really thrives.

Te Wa BeerAs luck has it, Tewa is located in Vienna and only about a 4 hour drive from my garage.  The trip is worth every last mile.

I’ve already told you about the Naschmarkt, and Tewa is just another addition to the patina of flavors and sensory overload that the market offers.  As far as I can tell (I can’t translate the web site because it’s all in Flash), the philosophy of the restaurant is to offer organic, Mediterranean food.  I think it all may have been vegetarian, as well – but can’t recall.  There are lots of teas on the menu and some very fru-fru items but what I ordered was delicious and avoided high falutin’ pretense.

Mrs. NH and I both ordered the “Tewa’s Special with Falafel.”  It consisted of a tomato-eggplant sauce/salad, humus, Te Wa Falafelolives pita bread and freshly cooked falafel.  The flavors contrasted and meshed with each move of the tongue and were bright, full and light.  I enjoyed mine with a couple of beers and Mrs. NH enjoyed the Austrian/Italian “Spriz’s,” a craze she’s been riding lately.  It was a great lunch and it was difficult not to plan our next trip to Greece as we ate.

The surroundings add to the experience as well.  It’s situated in the middle of the market and stylish euros slithered in like well-dressed iguanas looking for a spot it the sun.  On this particular fall weekend, it was there and they lapped it up – big sunglasses, designer jeans and all.  Did I mention the people watching is almost as good as the food?

Te Wa CrowdTewa strikes the right notes on all levels.  The menu was good but focused (they had a tasty looking breakfast special offered as well but we had lunch) and the service was decent for a restaurant that was full to the gills.

We’ll be back; I just have to get bigger sun glasses.

Enrico Panigl Wine Bar – Vienna, Austria

Enrico Panigl 5

“I’ve got a theory about this place,” I said as I gulped from a tasty glass of Zweigelt.  “What?” said Mrs. NH.  “OK,” I continued, “see that flag under the light over there?  I’m betting P.C.I. stands for ‘partido comunista de Italia’ (said with my Spanish accent – not Italian).  And by looking at the wines, this guy isn’t from Vienna.  He’s Italian.”

Enrico Panigl 3Well, I was right about the flag.  The letters do stand for the Communist party of Italy.  The hammer and sickle kind of tipped me off, too.  And sure enough, the owner spoke Italian to the next guy who came in.  And with a name like Enrico, I’d consider that a trifecta.  Still, my little theory was totally missing the point.  The point was, we had by grace of collective foggy memory and sheer good luck, managed to find the best wine bar in Vienna for the second time.

The “Enrico Panigl” is something of a throwback to a different time.  Not just the flag under yellow light but the bric-a-brac nature of the decor, dark wood, marble bar and candle light.  It’s dark, inviting, cozy and bar-fly-romantic.  Its romance is in the dust on the bottles.  Rustic romantic, not frills and satin.

If you aren’t feeling the atmosphere when you walk in, it won’t take long.  Taking a look up at the beautifully written Enrico Panigl 4chalkboard wine list, you can choose from some of the tastiest (and affordable) wines from Austria, Italy, Spain and Montenegro.  There’s a grape and a character to suit every palate.  On this occasion I think I found at least three wines that were incredibly impressive.

Then there are the bottles lining the walls.  They’re all spent – uncorked, dusty, ageing mementos of revelries long past.  The dates on some of them go back to the 60’s.  Their labels look like yellow parchment stuck to precious vessels of the nectar of the gods.

Adding the last bit to the Enrico Panigl equation are the patrons.  People from all ends of the spectrum seem attracted to this place.  During our brief visit we saw ageing Viennese, a biker couple, an older Italian speaking gentleman that looked like a regular, and a young couple, seemingly on a first date, both from different corners of Europe trying to communicate in English.  Did I mention that people watching is part of the fun?

Enrico Panigl 2Enrico Panigl is one of the truly great bars in Vienna and I’d put it in my top ten bars of the world.  There’s no pretense, just good wine and feeling that you’ve really found a treasure in the middle of Vienna.  Even with communist flag on the wall, the place just feels right.  Hmmm, maybe I’ll ask him about that next time.

Figlmüller – Vienna, Austria

Figlmuller 2

In Germany, Wiener Schnitzel is a staple.  In Austria, it is protected by law.  And no place moreso than at Figlmüller in Vienna.  This was about my fourth trip to this sacred shrine of schnitzel and it never ceases to amaze me.  First, there’s the place itself.  It’s an unassuming entrance to a clean, homey, no frills restaurant.  Second, there’s the line.  There’s always a line.  You have to make reservations at least three days in advance.  We went for dinner at about 10:30pm and had a group of four ahead of us and another couple that slipped in behind us.  (Clearly rookies, they tried to cut the line.)  It only took us about two minutes to get seated that late at night, fortunately.  We didn’t have a reservation.

Figlmuller 3Then, there’s the meal.  Skip the rest of the menu and order the “Figlmüller Schnitzel gebacken” and ask for the mixed salad.  The mixed salad is a creamy, vinegar-based potato salad with a green salad with (I think) a pumpkin seed vinaigrette dressing.  Yum.  Of course, the real show is in the Wiener Schnitzel, itself.  The meat is veal pounded paper-thin and fried until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  And it’s freakin’ huge.  It’s bigger than a frisbee.  Lots bigger.  The edges always hang way over the plate and I always eat the whole darn thing.  To do otherwise would be Austrian blasphemy.

I always order a beer to drink with it as it seems to complete the whole belly-stretching simplicity of it all.  You leave stuffed and sleepy (and if you’re like me, with the hiccups).  The walk home is always a slow one but always necessary.  In fact, I think Austrian law mandates it.

Naschmarkt – Vienna, Austria

Naschmarkt Fresh Vegetables

If there’s a place all epicureans should visit before they die, it’s Vienna’s Naschmarkt.  Mrs. NH and I trekked there this past weekend and were blown away by the sheer variety of food on display and for sale.  The market itself is located in the southwest quadrant of the city just outside the middle ring.  It has a pretty rich history, almost as rich and varied as the amount of food that it contains.

We spent at least five hours there on Saturday.  We couldn’t help ogling the fresh exotic vegetables, meats, spices and dried goods of all shapes and sizes.  Granted, we live in Prague where it takes a good deal of searching to dig up anywhere near the diversity of product – not to mention freshness.  However, the vegetables on display at the Naschmarkt look as if they were picked seconds before being put on sale.  The fresh seafood offering there looks as good as any I’ve seen in coastal towns and the variety of cheeses, olives and wine is enough to make all but the most jaded Italian blush.

Now, let’s talk about the pasta.  You may remember that I lamented not having fresh pasta available at the Little Italy Deli down the street from my house in Prague.  Well, there is no such problem here.  There is arugula ravioli, truffle ravioli, fresh tagliatelli, parpadelle, and all other sort of vowel ending pasta that you can imagine.  I’ll admit, for a minute I considered how long the commute would be from here to my Prague office.

Before we drove to Vienna, we were aware of the bounty that awaited us at the Naschmarkt and we arrived with a cooler and made plans with the hotel in advance to reserve a little fridge room.  Beware: the market isn’t open on Sunday so, you’ll need to do all of your shopping on Saturday.  And shop we did:  30 falafels, assorted olives (including pistachio stuffed), gourds, wine, cheese, more Italian olives, pumpkin seed oil, and plenty of drooling over the fresh produce.

Finally, there was a peculiarly Austrian aspect to the market.  About halfway through one of the rows of goodies stood a fellow in a dark suit over barrels of pickles in brine and sauerkraut.  In the 2-3 minutes I watched him, I saw him dig a gigantic wooden spoon in the kraut and offer tastes to passers-by.  Wow.  You don’t see that at Dean and DeLuca.

To me, the market is the highest form of capitalism.  It is all quality product.  Some of it is mass-produced and some of it is real hand-crafted artisan fare.  Still, in this market, there is only the best and quality mass-produced sits happily beside small-batch.  He who ends up winning here is the consumer.  The sheer experience of the market is worth the visit – even all the way from the Czech Republic.