Saturday’s outing did not quite live up to billing.
Unless there is something of noticeable import happening we tend to leave Vienna to the tourists on summer weekends. Something about a 39th annual Bauernmarkt with 80 vendors in a Waldviertel town on a newsfeed caught my eye; and a study of the Niederösterreich card book offered a Schnapps Glass Museum as an add-on in the near. What’s not to like about farmers markets and pretty glass?
The Waldviertel this time of year is like a patchwork quilt with poppies, sunflowers, and hay creating colorful squares across the rolling hills. I do wish there would be more frequent places along the road to stop and safely snap photos, however.
We arrived in the town well after the market had opened. This snap isn’t entirely representative of the scene, but neither is it that far from reality. As for the vendors, we generously rounded up to 30; a lone jar of Wipferl Honey (honey infused with early spruce needles) was our only treasure. All in all the event was rather sad.
Poppy seeds are a big deal in this region so we shared a plate of warm Mohnnudeln, a sweet dish of potato noodles tossed with poppy seeds that have been softened in butter, the entire dish then being sprinkled with powdered sugar, while contemplating where (never “what” we might have, because out in the provinces the answer is nearly always, “Austrian”) we might have lunch.
Cue Wirtshauskultur. A couple of years ago, or so, Tony and I happened upon an open Gasthof following one of our outings somewhere in Niederösterreich. As we were walking in I noticed the “Wirtshauskultur” sign on the entrance; research ensued.
Sometime in the 1990’s wise folks in Niederösterreich got together, probably over some delish Schnitzel, and put together a little Michelin-like guide to some 200 of their taverns that offer locally sourced cuisine that is a fork above the standard, and served in a prettier-than-the-usual setting. Ever since then we seek out these little culinary gems whenever possible; whatever is on offer will not disappoint.
In the village of the Schnapps Glass Museum was one such locale. My Schnitzel was paper-thin and crispy; and the coating was seasoned! Tony’s dish of pork medallions with pepper sauce was elegantly presented and melt-in-ones-mouth tender (and the sauce was a zesty dip for my pommes. Remember, I despise catsup.)
The lunch to cheer us up now a delicious memory, we walked over to the museum. Alas, a sign on the door informed us that apparently the glass-blower was ill, and the museum was closed for the weekend.
At least there was Wirtshauskultur.