Open Sandwiches

Black or white.

Red pill or blue pill.

South Korea versus Japan. (Soccer, yeah yeah, I’m an auspicious World-Cup-timing fan.)

There seem to be a lot of polar oppositions that exist elsewhere in the world, and Vienna is certainly no stranger to “which is best” arguments, especially when it comes to food. Food is a serious business here. Well, not that shop owners are serious it’s… Oy! I’m discovering that my English is rather on the downhill now that I am speaking German more. Point is, people love food here and they’ve got their favorites. There is a toss-up for the famous Sacher torte, a rich moist chocolate cake (who doesn’t like chocolate cake) that is balanced (balanced!) with apricot jam in between layers. Problem is, Hotel Sacher claims the original recipe but Cafe Demel retorts that they’ve retained the original recipe as well. Thus, two Sacher tortes exist in Vienna. I’ve got my favorite, but I’m not telling! (Wouldn’t want to bias your judgment, eh.)

But this entry is not about cake. Let them not eat cake. Let them eat… open sandwiches!

When I first came to Vienna, I noticed almost bruschetta-like creations, like the Italian trattoria sandwiches. A small, rectangular piece of bread with odd sauces and assortments on top of it, even pieces of salmon. One of my friends then introduced me to Trzesniewski, a place with 100-year-old recipes for these Viennese open sandwiches. The pronunciation of the name escapes me, and even the store has a cute little cartoon about how no one can pronounce their name.

Exhibit 1: Trzesniewski Storefront

Exhibit 1: Trzesniewski Storefront

Exhibit 2: Inside Trzesniewski

Exhibit 2: Inside Trzesniewski

Exhibit 3: Sandwich display

Exhibit 3: Sandwich display

Exhibit 4: Close up of three sandwiches

Exhibit 4: Close up of three sandwiches

Exhibit 5: Close up of two sandwiches

Exhibit 5: Close up of two sandwiches

As for the verdict, I wasn’t quite blown away by the taste as much as I was by the history. Perhaps it’s because I’m a tourist, but some of the combinations didn’t sit quite well with  my tastes… but then again, my food philosophy has always been that taste is somewhat universal unless it’s an extreme food (read: squirming cuttlefish legs dipped in gochujang). And then those extreme foods fall under the category of acquired taste, something that requires more than one bite and one chew and one swallow (read: definitely chew more than once on a squirming cuttlefish leg.) But these are open sandwiches, not very extreme to me, and my friend was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t raving as much as she was over these Trzesniewski ones. I’m also a bit suspicious still of chain stores, although this is no McDonalds, and no matter how good the original is… why not make people flock to one store versus the convenience of multiple stores that run into the danger of watered-down taste? Again, my personal food philosophy. 🙂

Then, after getting rained out at the Easter markets (post to come later), a few other friends and I scuttled for the nearest shelter. That would be Aida, another chain store, but one that I am more partial to. This particular Aida was next to a bustling store with a black camel on the store front, aptly translated “to the black camel” (Zum Schwarzen Kameel). This is also an old restaurant, started up in 1618 and famous for having famous customers such as Beethoven (and hopefully myself?) I’ve been back to this place a countless number of times (literally, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been back), which tells you how much I love it. I haven’t had an open sandwich here that I dislike, although I’m very partial to their mushroom one.

Exhibit 6: Black Camel Sandwiches

Exhibit 6: Black Camel Sandwiches

The mushroom sandwich has tiny bits of mushroom in a creamy base that pulls it off on top of the moist, almost sour-dough-like bread taste. The danger with mushroom is well, that it can get mushy, but these are more like tiny al-dente explosions of mushroom in your mouth.

The next time I went, I ordered something off the menu, and I wasn’t disappointed. I have become an asparagus creamm soup addict, and this was the third place that I had tasted.

Exhibit 7: Asparagus Cream Soup

Exhibit 7: Asparagus Cream Soup

Did I mention, the Black Camel also has desserts? For the life of me, I cannot find photos of the first time I went, I had one of their tiny tiramisu delights, but alas… it is lost somewhere in the hard drive of my computer. However, no worries, as I went back and had dessert again to compensate. 🙂

Exhibit 8: Yogurt Muesli Dessert

Exhibit 8: Yogurt Muesli Dessert

It was a delightful array of muesli porridge on the bottom, honey-sweetened yogurt in the middle, and fresh fruits on top as well as throughout the rest of the dessert. I tried recreating this at home, to some success but perhaps I need to go back and have an excuse to re-taste it!

*sigh* In no way was I endorsed by Zum Schwarzen Kameel to write this review… I’m just in love with the place!

Trzesniewski

Dorotheergasse 1, A-1010 Wien

Zum Schwarzen Kameel

Bognergasse 5, A-1010 Wien

The websites are in German, but if you can read it,

provide useful information on their histories as well

as menus (Trzesniewski and Zum Schwarzen Kameel).

Yupgi Girl

I confess, I’m a foodie but I’m also a relatively new foodie, in terms of international cuisine.

I’m pretty well-versed in Thai, real Chinese, Haitian/Caribbean, and other such foods but when it comes to Middle Eastern food, I’m at a complete loss. I don’t even know the time of day there! Well, time to change all that while I’m in Vienna. Vienna has a high Turkish population from what it seems like; there are a lot of street stands that sell kebabs and durums and even a predominantly Turkish market, called the Brunnen Markt. The only Middle Eastern I’d had before this trip was kebab so the first week I was here, I tried a durum from a street stand.

. . .

Exhibit 1: Durum

Exhibit 1: Durum

. . .

It’s kebab meat (something that one of my friends here is very suspicious of, “who knows HOW long that kebab meat has been there!” but I seem to have an iron stomach *knock on wood* so I don’t quite care) inside of a wrap, with fresh lettuce and a white sauce that seems suspiciously yogurt-based. But what do I know about it? Sadly, durum then became limited to drunk night binges when it was the only thing available on the streets. I figured, it was time to hit up authenticity.

One of my friends from school is from Turkey and he’s also on our program here. A few weeks ago, he took me to this place called Maschu Maschu for my first falafel experience.

. . .

Exhibit 2: My First Falafel (Teller)

Exhibit 2: My First Falafel (Teller)

. . .

I ordered something called a falafel teller. I still have no idea exactly what this is, but it seemed like a lot of delicious kebab meat, falafel, a tangy-vinegar red cabbage salad, yogurt-based sauce, and another type of salad. However, a quick search on Google reveals that I am completely wrong on the yogurt-based count, and it turns out that it is, in fact, a Tahini-based sauce. In Layman’s terms, Tahini is a sesame seed paste. I now am confused how this relates to hummus (which I’ve had before) but that’s a story for another day.

. . .

Exhibit 3: Falafel and Tahini Close-up

Exhibit 3: Falafel and Tahini Close-up

. . .

The prices were reasonable, although… I don’t pay as much attention to how much I actually pay for food as I should. But this meal was roughly around 7 Euros, which should be about 10 U.S. dollars, and that was including a large drink.

All in all, not bad for my first falafel experience. I can’t say how authentic it is, besides the fact that a Turkish friend took me, and he approved of it. To me, it was extremely delicious. The falafel was crispy on the outside, and the chickpeas (which is what is  inside a falafel, according to Wikipedia) were distinct enough that they weren’t just a mush. I do love red cabbage, and the vinegar that had brined it complemented its natural crunchyness and taste. It came with a flattened bread (no idea of the name or origins). I’ve also had enough kebab meat to know that if it’s done the wrong way, the ends can be dried out and the inside more like jerky than anything that resembles meat. But the kebab meat in this dish was done in a succulent way, so much so that I wanted more. And, now that I’ve written this entry, I want to go back already!

Maschu Maschulocated in the 1st district of Vienna

Address: Rabensteig 8, 1010 Wien

Open: Sunday – Wednesday, 11.30 am – Midnight;

Thursday – Saturday, 11.30 am – 4 am

Have you had Middle Eastern food (specifically, falafel) before? What has your experience been like?

Yupgi Girl.