One of the more charming districts in Vienna I don’t get to explore as often as the first is Gersthof, the 18th. It has a lot of little stores selling trinkets and whatnots, it’s quieter than the usually busy streets of other districts. When I dine in one of the restaurants there, my day gets better having had good food with good company.
The recent trip there was no different. It was a summer lunch all too perfect…(but probably too much). I went with a friend around 11:30, a bit early for the usual patrons so we were the first to arrive. We were seated on a table for two just where we could see the food being prepared…sweet! A handsome cook and a friendly looking lady were there, carefully crafting our plates. We had each a four-course meal waiting to be devoured.
We were served a basket of bread while waiting along with our ordered mango juice. The appetizers came shortly and it was already a promising a start. A plate of cheese, grilled eggplant, tomato, zucchini, dried tomatoes and some shrimps already made me feel full even when there was still a lot left on my plate. My friend and I were exchanging a lot of banters while finishing the appetizers and dared if we could actually finish all the meal.
Our second plates were consisted of gnocchis on preferred sauce, I had tomato based sauce while my friend had cheese. It looks very little on the photo but they were big servings. I forked some from the other plate and liked both. No competition on which sauce is better. 😀 The gooey cheese on gnocchi though is very entertaining for cheese-lover me.
Our dare seems to be a loss now for me…lol. I couldn’t even finish all this dish, no matter how good it was.
The next platter came, a humongous dish of grilled seafood and vegetables, particularly potatoes and bits more. There’s salmon, halibut, shrimp, squid and butterfish. This was the best, I would say, part of the meal…well, that is if we were able to finish off dessert. Fish is like my favorite of all meats, that’s why the claim.
Like what was previously mentioned, my day gets better after having dined in one of the restaurants at Vienna’s Gersthof, that day I had a wider smile on my face….and also because I took home the tiramisu we were supposed to have for dessert, it was snacked on later that day. Yummy!
Trattoria Ristorante Spumante
Telefon: 01 4791138
Walking in Bologna was like visiting the past and seeing present Italy in a whole new light. It is home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088 and is still functioning to this very day. Surviving many wars and reforms, it is a great feat that the city has been preserved and its rich cultural heritage can still be seen today.
Known for its architectural and artistic history, Bologna’s towers and medieval gateways are must-sees. There might be little compared to before but the towers still represent Bologna’s top spot in many arenas back in the day.
So we didn’t have a plan that day on where to go…we wandered aimlessly, ending up on streets with graffiti much elaborate than the one below, on abandoned cobblestone streets, passageways with a lot of parked bicycles and tables outside pizzerias waiting for their diners.
It was a lovely walk back in time…a feast for camera snaps and cultural drinking. And just as hubby predicted, we will find a lovely restaurant from a string of them and have authentic Ragu al Bolognese.
Zigzagging here and there we ended up in a restaurant full of outside diners. It was fully-seated alright, but just outside, in the inside there was only a whole family dining to their heart’s delight, a couple diners and a lonesome mister who seem to be a writer so engrossed in his reading material…with all the pens and papers laying on the table along with his plate.
Where we’re seated, we could see how busy of a night it was. One pizza after the other gets stacked on them plates…brought to their respective tables along with other dishes. It’s a good sign – means a lot of people trusts that they serve good food. Right? A server came to us and took our orders. Hubby got Bolognese but in spaghetti…normally, bolognese is served with thicker pasta but this one was with spaghetti so all is good. It was served with complimentary bread, different from the ones we munched on while waiting.
For so many years I haven’t had one of my favorite fish on my plate – spada, or swordfish. I was torn at having salmon or this but knowing I can have salmon when we get home I went for the grilled swordfish and I was not disappointed. Grilled to perfection, squeezed with lemon and sprinkled with some herbs on a bed of arugula…the buttery, melt-in-the-mouth texture brought back childhood memories – then when we often had this… And hey, it was a big serving too…so I was overall happy! ^_^
And to finally cap everything off, I wanted to compare the panna cotta I’ve known to the authentic one. So I asked for it as dessert. Didn’t disappoint! Creamy goodness and a hint of chocolate for every spoonful…it was rightly sweet – not overbearing that you’d ask for more. Well, I didn’t – I’m already full.
Piazza San Martino, 9
+051 23 2502
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Another city I explored on my ten-day-being-away-from-hubby was Nuremberg. It’s not my first time there, it is in fact a city I’ve often been to but, I always go about with the whole family. This time, going about alone, I searched for Albrecht Dürer’s house by myself…one on my bucket list for 12 years now and one that has finally been crossed out. ^_^
Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano. He who goes softly, goes safely; who goes safely, goes far…or go slow and you will reach your goals, safely. Simply put: slowly but surely (according to an Italian friend.) I don’t really see the connection of this proverb with food but, it is the tagline of a big chain of an Italian restaurant, Vapiano. On their website though, it says: According to an Italian proverb, “If you have an easy-going and relaxed approach to life, you’ll live more healthily and longer”. Vapiano is actually German-owned, serves made-to-order Italian dishes – they will cook your food in front of you and you can pick from fresh herbs they grow on site and from pasta made straight from the machine…
I always try to watch how they make pasta (just a bit) whenever I dine at one of their branches. These ones are in Nuremberg, very near the St. Lorenz church. Like their other branches, they have these cute scribbles with funny quotations, memorable movie quotes and sometimes life lessons done in chalk on boards. I try to enjoy each of these pieces of art whenever I wait in line or for my food.
Vapiano has a different system of dining, so to say. Upon entering the premises, customers are greeted at the counter and are given each an RFID chip card. You swipe the card upon ordering food and drink and then you hand it back at the counter before exiting to pay.
The cooks will make you choose your pasta, all pre-packed to serving sizes, when you order. There’s a menu, alright, but you have the choice of mixing and matching the sauces as well as adding additional flavors to your dish. For starters, you’d be asked if you’d like garlic with your olive oil…and upon plating you will be asked if you would like cheese – different for each too as ricotta, parmigiano and the likes.
They also have different seating arranged in the restaurants. Barstool high wooden chairs and tables, cozy sofa sets and even al fresco are available. Most of the tables have different herbs on them you can enhance your food with. I always pick a table with basil on it. ^_^
In Nuremberg, I had Salvia on Campanelle (below photo). Campanelle are mini pasta tubes shaped like bells, campana being bell while salvia is sage. There’s semi-dried tomatoes, sage of course, feta cheese and olive oil. I opt to have it topped with parmigiano being the cheese-lover that I am. ^_^ Fresh sage goes so good with feta, this dish is a real winner for me! Vapiano servings might be too big for a little person like me so if you ever get to dine there, consider the portion sizes.
Closer to home, the branch that I get to visit more would be at the newly opened mall at Vienna’s central district. It is one of the biggest among their chains and I could sit comfortably to myself whenever I dine. It’s also conveniently accessible, what with the train station Landstrasse just below the mall. Funny that on the many occasions I was here, I never took a photo of the whole or the outside. ^_^
I have had many dishes in this particular branch and I could only say that each and every one of them is worth a bite, what’s with all the freshest ingredients and those would you not love?
Then there’s Vapiano’s coziest joint at Vienna’s shopping district, particularly at Theobaldgasse. I always take the scenic route finding this particular branch – snapping pretty corners as I go. Well worth it too coz I’d be so tired (I always go on foot, walking about 20 minutes or so ^_^ )…I’d be d*mn hungry whenever I’m there – I feel I could finally finish a biggie serving! (Unfortunately though, I still couldn’t …eheheh).
This Vapiano branch’s dessert station is a must try too! Offering Italian dolci, you can either sit comfortably while working (lappy please) or take your treat home too. Panna cotta, rice pudding, tiramisu, cheesecakes, crema di fragola and death by chocolate along with a handful flavors of ice cream and Italian pastries are waiting for sweet toothed diners.
The last time I dined at Vapiano I had Granchi di Fiume on linguine. That’s crayfish and vegetables in a Vapiano lobster sauce. The pasta may look overcooked – I think it’s given since it was cooked directly after being made but I would have loved it al dente but, I won’t really complain much as taste-wise, it’s yummy and one of the dishes I would have again and again.
Join us at Food Friday!
1. Königstraße 17, 90402 Nuremberg, Germany
+49 911 2146330
2. Landstrasser Hauptstr. 1b, 1030 Vienna, Austria
3.Theobaldgasse 19, 1060 Vienna, Austria
+43 01 5811212
Naples would be one of the city that surprised me…and not positively. Compared to the other European cities we’ve been to, it is quite unsightly – but, maybe because it is quite an old city, aged to experience and history. It has a busy urban landscape feel and you might feel unsafe as you walk by but no, we didn’t encounter anything untoward (gott sei dank!) during our stay.
Apart from wanting to see Dante Alighieri’s statue at the plaza named after him (pictured above), hubby made clear his intent to eat pizza from where it originally came from – that is, Naples. So, any pizzeria, the establishment that makes and sell pizza would do, I presume. It was unknown to us then that Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, the pizzeria widely believed to be the very first one was just a few steps away from the plaza. 🙁 (I truly regret not having researched before this trip…blame my excuse of too much blogging.)
So walk we did, as we reminisce how very familiar the surrounding ought to be. It was like walking the old roads of Quiapo. Dust clinging on to walls, clothes hanging out to dry, old buildings with peeled paints and lots of people walking around and waiting for vehicles – well buses, not jeepneys. It was all too familiar, like walking there was something I had done so many times – to buy rolls of film or just take photos of Manila life, only…I was sure we were still in Europe.
The walking was a good idea as we were getting tired and hungry, teehee! We ended up at this bright red building, the Naples National Archeological Museum. Since it was getting late already, the museum has been closed – unfortunately so we decided to look for a place to eat instead to fulfill hubby’s goal.
We didn’t walk far to find a pizzeria, they actually abound like lined palm trees on Santa Monica’s Palisades Park. The first one at the corner street was rather inviting. Scroll down please to see my chunk of reality: a table setup outside the establishment, the windows and the lights coming from the pizzeria spelled cozy. It’s sign read Ristorante Pizzeria F. Aiello, just across the Museo Archeologico Nazionale.
So in we go, the traditional stove can be seen from the entrance along with various ingredients and from there, you’d be assured that everything would be served fresh. We were served an antipasto of crunchy tiny fish reminiscent of our dilis (anchovy) or it might actually be anchovy mixed with some others. (The menu was in Italian). This dish was served with lemon and pepper and having finished half, I already felt full.
Expectedly (or not), their serving variety is of Neapolitan. That’s a special blend of wheat flour, natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, sea salt and water kneaded accordingly and baked on a definite length of time and degree in an oak-wood oven to achieve that thin, crispy but tender bite. It is typically topped with San Marzano tomatoes harvested near Mt. Vesuvius and mozzarella cheese from a particular type of buffalo raised in the Campania region (Naples is Campania’s capital).
From this base, other variants can be made and there are only three listed official variations to it. What we had were two same variants. (Blame my lack of interest to learn Italian, I didn’t learn it before the trip,tsk!) We had wanted something different but, the server might have understood otherwise, teehee. I am not sure about the other accepted variants of the Italian food association but what we had was topped with toasted eggplant along with other veggies. It was right on the bat crunchy, thin and tasty.
Mind you, they serve pizza in a rather humongous plate, I’m guessing 40cm (that’s 16 inches) and I didn’t notice if they offer the 33cms. Imagine how full we were ( I had two slices) having finished the antipasto earlier and gulping a pint of iced tea (mine) and beer (hubby) as we go. We had the other whole pizza taken back to the hotel. ^_^
It was a dinner so satisfying (read: burp full), we went walking for hours afterwards. I was warned that Naples wouldn’t be so safe like other Italian cities and that’s how I felt arriving (as mentioned above) but that night proved to be a safe and lovely one. Walking on long hours, we were able to capture Naples’ beauty and charm at night, will post those photos soon.
As mentioned on my other blog, I had a few hours of me-time or more like alone-time walking about in Rome. I braved the crowded streets, took photos of important landmarks, fed my senses with everything Roman. I met people here and there, most of them were tourists too and oh how I love meeting people from all walks of life! We engaged in bits of discussions before going about our businesses – being tourists.
No, I don’t really want to bombard this post with lots of photos so here’s a few. Outside the Vatican was this genius of a musician/street performer. His sign reads “I need money to fix my time machine and go back to the 50’s” – he was playing Elvis! I of course put in some money and noticed as I took a photo that he looks like Johnny Depp! 😛
I walked around a bit more, shopped a bit and afterwards felt the pangs of hunger and left with a phone almost battery-dead. I ended up at one of Rome’s longer streets, Viale Giulio Cesare, with a mission: find a decent restaurant where I can charge my phone, lol. The train station Ottaviano is in that particular street, it’s where you get off in case you want to visit the Vatican.
Like the previous trips, I wasn’t able to research on the best restaurant in Rome to dine in – all Italian cities we visited actually. It was a matter of walking in and hoping for the best. They say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do – so literally being in Rome, I say; eat what their region is most famous for!
Pasta remains to be one of the foremost constituents in Roman cuisine, I bet the whole of Italy too! Some of the listed famous sauces would be carbonara, Alfredo, cacio e pepe, amatriciana, and gricia. I was only familiar with the first three. There are 6,719 restaurants listed on Tripadvisor and what are the chances that I will not get to dine in one that is at the bottom of the list?
Thank goodness I didn’t! Just across the train station is a trattoria called Pastarella. Trattorias in Italy are an eating establishment less formal than a restaurant, serving mostly local fare and where wine is sold by the decanter not by bottle. Pastarella has tables outside for those who prefer dining al fresco but because I wanted to charge my phone I chose a seat near an electric socket. I was facing the doors and so I can do what I enjoy most: people-watching. ^_^ Above photo shows empty tables coz the customers where mostly outside save for a couple on my other side. (Can’t really go paparazzi there no?)
So came a rather serious-looking server. Handed me the menu and I looked it up, searching for something not so familiar. There’s carbonara, of course, and there’s gricia. The description shows them almost having the same ingredients so I was prompted to ask what’s the difference. He graciously replied (we were conversing in English), carbonara is cooked with eggs while gricia is cooked with cream! Then and there I felt embarrassed, how could I forget? I’ve always said in my recipe blog that carbonara is not cooked with cream. – Click here.- Searching now, I can’t find a reference to gricia having cream so I might have heard wrong (lol). Though I’d say that carbonara is creamier because of the egg.
I forgot which type of pasta was this but it did go well with everything. (Edit: found a photo on my instagram feed with the caption: bombolotti alla gricia. 😀 ) If I’m not mistaken, the sauce has jowl bacon – probably cooked the same way as carbonara with olive oil, pepper and pecorino Romano cheese. You do know by now, as I state that in every post that I’m no big eater and I’m also slow to chew so when the server saw that I still have a lot on my plate, he asked if the food is good- in a serious tone. I just smiled and nodded, it was really good – I might be slow for savoring the flavors though, haha. I sometimes hope though that there’s more space for dessert. 🙁
When he passed by again I motioned for the bill, there’s still some pasta so he asked if I’m sure that I’m done. I nodded again. He came back with my bill and asked where I’m from. Unsure how to answer I said ‘I’m from the Philippines but I live in Vienna now.’ He suddenly said “kumusta ka?” (How are you?) and smiled to my surprise. Turns out he’s not so serious after all. He also asked me “Alles klar?” (All okay?) which sent me laughing because of a perfect German diction. And aside from Italian, he also speaks French. Later on in the conversation when he learned my name, he spoke in French, my name being one. And I totally don’t know what it means – probably “your name is French” was what he said. I then asked how I could get to the Pantheon and he gave me directions.
I left with a happy tummy, a cheerful aura and a phone with its battery half-full.
Trattoria – Pizzeria – Braceria
Viale Giulio Cesare, 64-66-68
Info line +39 063701135
Chibog – it’s a slang Filipino word that could either mean food or eating. Looking through it today, I thought that maybe it originated from the Italian word for food, cibo. And it may not be impossible since Italian cuisine is always close to the heart of Filipinos…I for one – its simplicity is what I love most.
Thursday lunch, I found myself at D’Lounge in Donauzentrum with a visiting friend waiting at one of their cozy corner tables. I’ve always loved the ambiance in this particular branch. It’s warm and inviting and very homey too. I had been staying away from rice but seeing Pollo Hawaii on the menu made me forget how I have endured a month without it. I was delighted with the combination of bacon, chicken and pineapple. I went on mouthful one after the other – basmati rice, chicken, bacon, pineapple, bacon, rice, chicken, pineapple…well, not in that particular order. ^_^
D’Lounge has always been generous with their servings. I wasn’t surprised that my day’s companion would find it too much. He had spinach-filled Cannelloni baked to perfection, I was embarrassed at how my home version pale in comparison.
Perhaps every bit of my attempt at Italian cuisine will be crushed in each and every dish at this wonderful restaurant. It’s alright though, I’d rather have my pasta or pollo eaten in satisfaction at a quiet corner here than fuss our kitchen restless.
Buon Cibo, good chibog!
Wagramerstrasse 79 Top 601b,
Donau Plex, 1220 Wien
T +43 1 960 45 86