I’m in Vienna, Austria this week, rejoicing in the music, food, art, and outdoorsy adventures that this elegant, old-world city has to offer.
Over the weekend, I once again explored the famous Karmelitermarkt, (Carmelites’ market) the Saturday-only outdoor market that’s considered the best in a town full of excellent markets.
My plan was to buy eierschwammerl (also known as chanterelles) and make mushroom goulash for dinner. These golden, trumpet-shaped funghi show up in the market only for a couple weeks in June. As soon as I arrived at the square, I sought out the purveyors who had small baskets of the precious mushrooms, picked the ones that looked best, and bought a half pound.
The rest of the shopping could wait until after breakfast.
For that, we headed to Marktachterl, a popular café on the perimeter of the square . (A few other casual restaurants, a flower shop, several butchers, and a couple of pastry shops are also permanent merchants on the square.)
I was expecting a simple plate of scrambled eggs when I ordered Eierspeis. But what I got was an education and inspiration for future breakfasts.
Since Eierspeis translates literally as “egg-dish,” I asked the waiter how the eggs were prepared. He answered: “They’re moved around in a pan.”
Instead of beating the eggs together in a bowl, the cook apparently broke the eggs directly into a hot pan with sizzling butter, let them sit a few seconds, and then scrambled them until they were loosely set. The result was light and fluffy with luscious chunks of white and yellow --- a far more interesting texture than the norm. A flurry of fresh chives, and a tiny plop of sour cream with cherry tomatoes completed the picture.
It seems that Viennese chefs love to toss and tousle stuff around in a frying pan. One of the country’s best known desserts is Kaiserchmarrn (which translates as Emperor’s Mishmash), a sweet, eggy pancake that’s chopped up as it cooks in the pan, creating a handsome heap of shredded, caramelized, crispy-edged pancake topped with bits of fruit or nuts, all buried in a blizzard of powdered sugar.
One of the best versions I’ve ever had was at the tiny lodge of Heilige Kreuz high in the Dolomite mountains of Northern Italy. I wrote about that sugary masterpiece last summer when I was trekking, hut-to-hut, with friends.
More about the yummy mushroom goulash I made for dinner later.