Thursday, 5 March 2015

Überstürzter Neumann and Einspänner

I'm in Vienna at the moment, attending the European Congress of Radiology. Have a look at the picture below.
It's an Überstürzter Neumann. An espresso, served in a little pot, is accompanied by a cup of whipped cream, into which the coffee is poured at your table. Vienna is yet another place with a distinct coffee culture, so much so that it is in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. This began after the siege of Vienna, when the departing Turks left sacks of coffee  behind. In the coffee houses here, your cup of coffee comes on a little steel tray, accompanied by a glass of water with the spoon laid across the top. You can stay for as long as you like without ordering anything else. It's all very civilised.

The basic coffee is espresso, not quite as strong as in Italy, and you can have it black, or with foamed milk in various proportions of milk to coffee. Then there are all sorts of other variations, like the ones involving whipped cream, and various concoctions with alcoholic spirits and cream (rather like Irish coffee). The names of the drinks are all German, which adds a touch of exoticism for those from English speaking countries, where everything seems to be in Italian, or some Anglo-Italian pidgin hybrid (e.g. Venti Caramel Moccachino).

There are also coffee drinks which I've read about but not seen on any menu so far like the kaisermelange: an egg yolk beaten with honey to which coffee is then added. I'd hoped to try one this trip, but so far have not managed to find it.

I wrote this in the Café Engländer, which I came across by chance on my way to a museum. It's not to be found in any of the lists of famous cafes, but there are favourable reviews online, and it was packed when I arrived. It's simply but elegantly furnished in an approximately mid-century modern style. Despite it's name, there's nothing English about it. Unlike many of the better-known establishments, the menu is entirely in German, with no English translation, and not all the waiters speak English. The coffee list is short, but I was here for dinner.

I've just had an excellent meal of beef prepared in a decidedly un-English manner. For starters, their beef tartare, with a warm soft boiled rather than raw egg. It was delicious. I know some people who like raw beef but are put off by raw egg white, and this would be great for them.

The main was tafelspitz, the classic Viennese dish of boiled beef, served with apple sauce, horseradish and a creamy chive sauce, accompanied by rösti potatoes. Also delicious, and one of the best versions I've tried.

I was quite full at the end, and was inclined to have an espresso (Kleiner Schwarzer) but I wanted a picture of an Einspänner for the blog, so that's what I had.

I've been wondering, did the Kaiser Franz Josef drink Einspänners, and did he get whipped cream all over his moustache?

Franz Joseph in hunter's costume, by Edmund Mahlknecht (1820-1903) • Public domain

Café Engländer
Postgasse 2, 1010 Wien, Austria
+43 1 9668665

List of well known Viennese coffee drinks

List of well known Viennese coffee houses

More on coffee in Vienna


Anonymous said...

you'll never find a Kaisermelange because it's forbidden to serve raw egg.

Peregrinating Penguin said...

Thanks for that. I might have to try making my own, then. Perhaps that's why my steak tartare at the Cafe Engländer came with a soft boiled egg? I wonder how they make mayonnaise.

Jolanta aka Casual Traveler said...

Thanks for the tips! My husband, who claims the Europeans can't make good coffee, showed me the article, and we'll be checking out the Café Engländer when we're in Vienna later this year.

Peregrinating Penguin said...

Actually, Jolanta, I find that coffee on the whole in Europe is fine these days, although I have made my preferences clear in a previous article