I debated with myself over whether to even publish these comments. It is not that I do not write about the food I eat, but this meal was different. You see, I had lunch recently at a Viennese institution noted for its Tafelspitz preparation, and this was my first ever Tafelspitz at said institution. And Tafelspitz was, you must understand, one of Emperor Franz Josef I’s favorite dishes. How dare some ex-pat not love one of the good Kaiser’s favorite meals, and Austria’s National Dish?
Confession: I do not love Tafelspitz.
Tafelspitz, table meat, is a simple preparation of oxen rump roast whereby the meat is simmered with root vegetables, marrow bones and spices until it is meltingly soft. “Boiled beef” is another name for the dish that was enjoyed by the middle-class as well as the nobility in the Empire and insanely popular still today.
The broth is served atop Frittaten, crepe-like and thin-sliced pancakes as a first course. The Frittatensuppe was good, but to be honest did not taste any differently to me than the version I make at home with stock from beef and marrow bones (and, I confess, store-bought Frittaten.) (Clayton Theodore loves when I make the stock, because there’s always a marrow bone (or two) for him, he is that spoiled.)
Then onto the main course, the boiled beef. The beef was paired with thin-sliced and mostly crispy potatoes (albeit a bit greasy for my preference) and excellent spinach. Somehow I missed the apple horseradish that usually adds flavor to accompanies the dish, but the Schnittlauchcreme (chive cream) was an admirable stand-in.
Sometime last winter I undertook Tafelspitz at home, following a recipe from my 1968 edition, The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire. The meal was deemed good, but the recipe sits rather deservingly in third place in my repertoire of “Rump Roast Preparations” behind France’s Pot au Feu and Ireland’s Steak and Guinness Pie.
And after my recent lunch, I think that is where Tafelspitz shall remain. Now about that copper cookware…