Assignment 101: Austria

OST mapLocation: Central Europe
Population: 8.9 million
Capital: Vienna
Geography: A mainly mountainous nation in the Alps
Language: German
Signature flavours: Pork, beef, cabbage, potato, dairy, apple

The Menu

It has been over two and a half months since our last wander, and so much has happened. We lost Eric’s father to COVID in April, and the dust is only just starting to settle after all this time. We are spending our first spring in our new home, having left Toronto last year, and are watching winter greys turn to vivid May greens. It has been a spring of colour and light braided with grief, change, and uncertainty. I have struggled this year to address my mental health, and Eric says this blog acts as a kind of litmus — when I’m doing well, the words spill forth easily, the kitchen is abustle with sounds and smells, and sometimes we do as many as one assignment a week. When things are not as good, I struggle to find the energy I need to inspire me. It has been a year like that. Eric has waited patiently, for weeks or months, while I slowly put together a menu, cook, write, edit photos, and finally publish a post. Because we take turns in the kitchen but I do the writing, sometimes its a long wait between assignments.

So thank you for joining us again, as May turns to June, our province looks to reopen after one of the longest lockdowns in North America, and the table is once again set for a WSW feast.

OST salat

Kalt Krautsalat: Coleslaw, Austrian-style. Raw cabbage in a simple oil and vinegar dressing, spiced with caraway seed.

Prep and cooking time: 65 min
Difficulty: 1/5

OST tirol

Tirolean Dumplings: Cheese, bacon, and flour dumplings from the Tyrol region of Austria, served in a simple clear broth.

Prep and cooking time: 40 min
Difficulty: 2/5

OST brot

Kartoffelweckerl: Spelt and potato rolls served alongside sausages, pickles, and mustard.

Prep and cooking time: 2 hours
Difficulty: 3/5

OST strudel

Apfelstrudel: Rum-soaked raisins, slivered almonds, and chopped apples folded into a delicate pastry and baked until soft and juicy, then sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Prep and cooking time: 75 min
Difficulty: 3/5

The Shopping List

Germans settled this part of Ontario (among many others from across Europe and more recently other parts of the world) and as such, ingredients — like good cheese, imported mustard, and even Bavarian-style vegan sausages — were easy to find at our local supermarket.

OST toppings

The Meal

Eric was working late the night I cooked Austrian food. Stressed and on a deadline, he came to the table with a scowl on. Within seconds, though, his face lit up as he took in the dishes before him, and  within minutes, his bad mood had dissipated. 

We started with the Tirolean dumplings. Mine were made with vegan bacon, and I think it really changed them, as they didn’t hold their shape all that well and were softer than I would have liked. They had a great, savoury flavour, though, with lots of punch from the cheese and salty bacon, tempered by the plain vegetable broth.

The krautsalat was fresh and crunchy, and actually, I piled some on my kartoffelweckerl along with the pickles and sausages. I would say the spelt-potato-bread was the highlight of the dinner. The rolls were so soft and comforting, and were excellent spread with the tangy mustard, and loaded with toppings.

OST baking

We reminisced about the hot slice of apfelstrudel we shared in Salzburg a few years ago (remember when humans used to go places?), and if I do say so myself, I think my strudel was nearly as good. The crust was melt-in-your-mouth while still retaining a bit of a crumbly-ness, the apples were sweet and soft, and the raisins burst with flavour.

Eric washed it all back with Austrian Stiegl beer, and we shared memories of biergartens that must right now be sitting empty, waiting like we are for things to change again.

OST bier

Links
https://www.tyrol.com/blog/b-food-drink/austrian-bacon-dumplings-the-original-recipe-for-tyrolean-dumplings
https://www.gutekueche.at/kalter-krautsalat-rezept-7952
https://www.gutekueche.at/kartoffelweckerl-rezept-30756
https://platedcravings.com/apple-strudel-recipe/

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional chef. I’m just a passionate cook with a curiosity for flavours I’ve never tried. For great recipes from gifted local cooks, follow the links above.

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