By Grazia Novelli
When it is winter and cold in Vienna, the idea of chocolate seems even more enticing than in other moments of the year. A walk downtown the city center (im Zentrum) will inevitably take by the windows of the Hotel Sacher, behind the opera house, and you will start to smell the chocolate in the air! (It may be just an illusion!) While there are many versions of the “Sachertorte” in the world, this hotel is the place where this famous chocolate cake originated.
Legend has it that a pastry chef named Franz Sacher invented this cake in 1832 while serving as an apprentice at the court of the Prince of Metternich, where he filled in for the main pastry chef for a day. The recipe was an immediate success and a star was born! The recipe was sold to the owners of the Sacher Hotel in 1936 by Sacher’s nephew, and in 1962, the Austrian Supreme Court decided that only the cakes prepared in the Sacher Hotel could be called by that name.
The recipe remained a secret until recently. Here is one that comes close to the original:
The secret of this exquisite dessert lies in the three different kinds of Belgian and German chocolate used for the frosting. It is always served with a scoop of unsweetened whipped cream to balance the dryness of the cake.
If you are interested in ordering a cake or other Sacher-related items, you can visit the Sacher Online shop.
Tradition of Kaffeeklatsch
The literal translation of Kaffeeklatsch is “coffee chat.” It is a tradition that has been going on for centuries and began in the historical Viennese Kaffeehäuser, or coffee houses, that have been declared by UNESCO to be part of the “intangible cultural heritage” of Austria.
In the 1700s, the Viennese Kaffeehäuser were places where writers, philosophers, and important intellectuals would meet to discuss and exchange ideas. One could also play cards and billiards at the coffee houses.
These photos were taken by me at the Sacher Hotel, a beautiful and historical setting for Kaffeeklatsch.
In a Kaffeehaus, there are different types of coffees that you can order: Schwarzer is black with no milk, Brauner is with sugar and a little milk, Goldener is gold in color with a drop of milk, and Milchkaffee is coffee with milk. Il Kapuziner is similar to Italian cappuccino with whipped cream. Einspanner is with hard whipped cream and is served in a tall glass.
The best and most renowned historical Kaffeehäuser in Vienna
The German word Gemütlichkeit means “coziness” and this is what the Austrians advertise about their coffee houses to appeal to tourists. Here is a link to the best coffee houses.
So you are prepared when you visit, here are some of the characteristics of the historical coffee houses in Vienna:
⊗ When you walk in, wait for someone to seat you.
⊗ The Viennese waiters are abrupt but courteous. It’s good practice to greet them with Grüss Gott (Good day).
⊗ If the coffee house is elegant, it is best to dress accordingly.
⊗ Usually, one can sit for hours before asking for the bill.
⊗ There are several newspapers for customers (also in English), and often also games available on each table.
⊗ Prices vary from 2 to 5 €uros for a coffee or for a slice of cake.
⊗ For lunch, they serve you the special of the day
(Tagesteller), which is usually around 8 €uros. Desserts are around the same price. Portions are big for lunch.
Gute Reise nach Wien!!!