This is what I have been doing over the last 36 hours. Eating.
Wednesday Evening. Crispy Pork Knuckle with Sauerkraut, Ham and Potato Gratin, and Apfel Strudel. And much Austrian red wine. Tony and I were at a social function where I could not exactly take photos of the food without perhaps embarrassing the US, but that’s why the Internet exists.
Thursday Lunch. I was invited to Tempo di Porcini, a mushroom feast hosted by an AIS mom with whom I wander the vineyards. Mushroom season has begun in earnest here; sadly I live with three mushroom haters. But thankfully so does this mom, so she thoughtfully gathered six friends with whom to share the earliest of the season’s bounty, and her amazing Cucina Italiano skills, over a four course lunch.
The first course was a simple pan of porcinis sauteed in butter and tossed with sea salt. Again, I did not feel comfortable snapping photos, but after the first course (or the two glasses of Prosecco), I was regretting not having brought my camera. (Photos courtesy of The Internet)
No photos on the Internet could do justice to the second course, personal cast iron pans of fried eggs and truffle toast. Alas, though, I can not eat eggs. And the friend across the table from me could not eat bread (gluten allergy), so I made the sacrifice and ate her truffle toast.
The third course was porcini risotto. There is no appropriate language to describe the silky rice and mushrooms generously dressed with fresh parmesan that we all swooned over.
But our three hour meal was not over. The final course; that is, before dessert, was a simple pan of roasted potatoes and porcini, again tossed with olive oil and sea salt. We all took seconds, in spite of ourselves. Our dessert was a refreshing bowl of fresh figs and peaches, and generous servings of espresso lest we all fall asleep on our host’s dining room floor.
Thursday Evening. Not more than 3 hours had passed before it was time to head out to a biergarten chosen by our son to celebrate his 16th birthday, one serving copious plates of meat along with the steins of beer that he is now officially able to order without us! The boys selected platters of Austrian-style meatloaf with fried onions and mashed potatoes, while I thought I would play it safe with “Kleines Zander,” a small plate of fried Zander (similar to trout) and Kartoffelsalat (potato salad).
I should have known better. “Kleines” anything at a biergarten just meant that the plate was smaller, not the portion. I am convinced I was served the Guinness Book of World Records Zander. It was very good that Anna Grace had had cross country practice earlier in the day and could bail me out from my epic dinner fail.
Friday Lunch. I was at the UN for the IAEA General Meeting (well, mostly to collect swag and make a Commissary run) and so could have lunch with my darling husband at the UN cafeteria. Did I select a salad, perhaps? No! I went “local” with a dish of Artichokes Romana, perfectly steamed artichokes topped with chopped tomatoes, parsley, and parmesan cheese. Served with a garlic baguette, too.
Artichokes are not Austrian, of course but they are popular here, and since Rome is on the same continent as Vienna, that pretty much counts as local to me. The dish was more than enough for two to share, yet not only did I eat all SIX of my artichokes, but I also ate the slice of pistachio cake that you see in the background.
While I am largely immune to gaining weight courtesy of my Eastern European high-metabolism ancestry, there are times when even I feel that a little “Wien Wanderung” might be a good idea, especially since my weekend calendar has both a dinner and a brunch on it. And so Clayton Theodore and I headed out to explore our favorite destination on this perfect fall afternoon.
The sunlight on the path up to the vineyards makes the point that autumn has arrived. (That, and the 4°C temperature we awoke to this morning.)
Definitely not summer clouds.
Their days are numbered, too. I’ll likely see them as sturm next weekend when we visit our local heurigen.