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Posts tagged ‘Altenberg’

DECADES OF GRATEFUL WRITERS WISH CAFÉ CENTRAL A HAPPY BIRTHDAY

I know a parallel universe where a writer can be alone in the company of others. A place where the air is laced with the scents of freshly roasted coffee beans and the soft tones of piano music accompany stories-in-the-making. A place where the cell phone remains tucked away and the only interruption is the arrival of a slice of Apfelstrudel with a side of freshly whipped cream or a berry torte topped with a sliver of chocolate and a swirl of gold.

Café Central — inspiring writers, poets, artists, intellectuals, and countless more for 140

Cafe Central Coffee on a silver platter served with water

Cafe Central Coffee on a silver platter served with water

years! Franz Kafka, Arthur Schnitzler, Karl Kraus, Adolf Loos, Peter Altenberg – were all “Stammgäste” here – so-called “Centralists”. Sigmund Freud, Karl Popper, Gustav Klimt, all came here as well. Rumor has it that Leo Trotzki played chess here while preparing for the October Revolution in his homeland. Happy Birthday to a true Viennese institution!

Without you, Vienna would only be half as wonderful. Thank you, Café Central, for being you, and allowing writers the world over precious hours of in-between times and boundless inspiration.

In my historical fiction novel that takes place in the beginning of the 1900s, Women and Wild Savages, the Austrian poet, Peter Altenberg, describes to Lina

Cafe Central Desert

Cafe Central Desert

Loos the masterful skills of Café Central’s head waiter, Herr Ober Franz:

     “The third appeal of Café Central is Herr Ober Franz, the dominion of this empire of suspended time. Everything runs like clockwork and occurs only with his blessing. Astuteness is only surpassed by his ability to be discreet. A connoisseur of all drinks, he knows the rules to all games. Before the Herr Guest utters a syllable, good Franz addresses him in the appropriate tongue. In addition to German and English, I’ve heard Franz speak French, Italian, Hungarian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Russian. From the 250 newspapers available in this coffeehouse, Franz knows each of our favorites. Once I even witnessed Franz, without a word, setting a Presse in front of a man who had been absent from Vienna more than a decade.”

                Franz’s slender figure glided through the labyrinth of marble tables. His

Cafe Central Apfelstrudel

Cafe Central Apfelstrudel

upper body swayed as his coattails swung elegantly and his black bow tie aligned perfectly.

                “He presides, my dear. If we Viennese are half naked without a title, it is Franz, not the magistrate, who confers the honor. He masterfully ignores his guests to bestow us with the treasured in-between times: between the bank and the barber, the lectures and library, the firm and family, between today and tomorrow. He and His stand guard over our idle hours and never jostle us with a disapproving glance or unrequested bill.

                                                                                                Women and Wild Savages, KC Blau

And don’t miss on World Poetry Day!

MARCH 21 – PAY WITH A POEM DAY!

On Monday, March 21, Julius Meinl along with Café Central and other coffeehouses throughout the city are celebrating World Poetry Day by offering patrons the opportunity to pay with a poem by choosing their favorite Julius Meinl coffee or tea and “paying with a currency better than money: a currency of emotions” . Let your creative juices flow, be inspired by the ambience and enjoy the Mélange.

https://www.meinlcoffee.com/poetry/campaigns/pay-with-a-poem-2016/

 

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PLACES TO VISIT IN VIENNA – COFFEEHOUSES

… occasionally people even drink a coffee in a coffeehouse, but that’s not the reason one goes there. –  H. Weigl, Austrian writer

Vienna and her coffeehouses are inseparable. At the turn of the century, Vienna boasted over 600 coffeehouses catering to every profession, social class, and mood. Then, as today, writers, business people, students, artists, intellectuals and international guests have come to treasu­re their time “alone in the company of others.” One Austrian poet in the early 1900s felt so at home in his Stammcafe that he used Café Central as his return address. You’ll find Herr Altenberg sitting there still, opinion-loaded and inspiration-ready at his Stammtisch directly inside the brass doors of the marble-pillared historical gem.

cafecentral_zeitung

Große Brauner in Cafe Central

But perhaps you’d prefer something more 50s style like the favored café of Thomas Bernhard (Bräunerhof)? Or maybe you’d like to contemplate dreams and the subconscious along with the memory of Sigmund Freud (Café Landtmann)? Coffeehouses vary in atmosphere and offerings. Some will have chess, piano accompaniment, or singers, some not. But no matter what coffeehouse you choose, all of them will have great coffee.

You will be able to choose from a long list of cof­fees, and we’re not talking regular or vanilla-flavored. Your coffee will usually come served on a silver platter with a cup of water on the side and usually – though not always – the spoon delicately balanced atop the glass. Newspapers from around the world will be hanging on a newspaper rack, available for your perusal. In attempt to guarantee your time is undisturbed, the server will skillfully ignore you and refrain from slapping down your check until you kindly request he or she do so.

cafemuseum

Einspanner in Cafe Museum

In today’s world of multitasking, need-it-yesterday, working-against-the-clock, don‘t you think you deserve some balm for the soul? Allow a black coat-and-tails waiter to serve up a Mélange and afford you a few glorious hours to sit back and smell the coffee.

Can’t go to the coffeehouse? Then bring a little coffeehouse home to you – Apple Strudel recipe: http://www.kcblau.com/apfelstrudel/

Read More here:

This post gives a list of coffeehouses and quotes about coffeehouses from famous Austrians: http://www.kcblau.com/coffeehouses/

 

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Vienna and her Coffeehouses – Sit Back and Smell the Coffee

Cafe Museum

Einspänner (small mocca with whipped cream) at Cafe Museum

“The Viennese go to coffeehouses, because they do not want to stay at home but also don’t want to be outside, because they want to be alone, but in the company of others.”
– Jörg Mauthe

Vienna and her coffeehouses are inseparable and it’s one of the things I love most about this city.

At the turn of the century Vienna boasted over 600 coffeehouses. Today many of these traditional places still thrive and provide a living room away from home for Vienna’s business people, students, artists, intellectuals and international guests in the same way they did over one hundred years ago. Many Viennese then and now, have one particular coffeehouse they like to frequent, their so-called Stammcafé and sometimes even a particular table where they like to sit, their Stammtisch.

Not only do the waiters, dressed in a black coat and tails, even today, look the picture of etiquette and grace of a bygone age, they still act it too. If you want a quick coffee and to get on your way again, be sure to ask for the tab once the coffee is brought, otherwise you might wait a while because in a Vienna coffeehouse, no one expects you to drink and run.

In today’s world of multitasking, fast food, speedy service, instant delivery, finding a retreat in the middle of the city that not only allows you but expects you (!) to take a few hours to sit back and smell the coffee is balsam to the soul.

Some of my favorite coffeehouses:

Bräunerhof: especially on a Sunday afternoon when they often host musicians around 4 pm. I love it here because you walk in and feel like you have stepped back in time and could look over at the neighbor table and see Thomas Bernhard scribbling notes for his next novel in his beloved Stammcafé  . You can sit in Bräunerhof for hours reading the papers, a book or writing and no one would ever dream of hurrying you along.

Cafe Central

Palais Ferstel, Home of Cafe Central

Café Central: for a lunch menu during the week (the food is wonderful) or for a late afternoon dessert. The Klimt Torte is particularly decadent. And I love bringing out-of-town guests here and watching their faces light up in tormented indecision as they study the savory contents of the dessert vitrine. Usually I end up suggesting desserts for the table so everyone can try a bit of everything. Café Central can get crowded especially at lunchtime so reservations are recommended. But once you are seated, you no longer notice the hustle and bustle. In fact, it adds to the experience.

Don’t overlook Peter Altenberg who keeps vigilant watch by the door. When my book finally gets out, English-speaking readers will learn more about the beloved poet who used Café Central as his home address.

If walls could speak!

Café Central has been host and Stammcafé  to so many philosophers, writers, poets, politicians and artists over the years that it is almost impossible to list them all. A few: Adolf Loos, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Hugo von Hofmannsthal…And the list goes on and on.

Once when a coffeehouse waiter asked Peter Altenberg if he knew who died, Herr Altenberg responded, “Everyone is fine by me.”

Café Diglas: Years ago, I used to frequent Café Diglas rather often. Nowadays less so but it hasn’t lost any of its ambiance or charm and has a great location right across from the book store Morowa on Wollzeile. It is open 365 days a year, from 7 am till midnight. Now the place is famous for its funky toilet doors. They are transparent until you close them, then they cloud over. Don’t take my word for it, see the youtube video here: Cafe Diglas’ Magical Doors

Café Landtmann: Now a place for politicians and business people have meetings, they have a wonderful breakfast selection and you might be interested in knowing that this was once Sigmund Freud’s Stammcafé.

Peter Altenberg and Lina Loos adorn the frontpage of Cafe Museum's Cake for the Ball of the Coffeehouseowners

Peter Altenberg and Lina Loos adorn the frontpage of Cafe Museum’s Cake for the Ball of the Coffeehouseowners

Café Museum: Last time I stopped by for an in-between hour at Café Museum, when I asked the waiter for the bill, he started reciting the damage: “a bottle of champagne, a serving of caviar” and he stopped and I smiled. “Just a mélange” I replied. And he raised his eyebrows as if sharing a secret. “Ahh yes. Perhaps we’ll save another day for the rest then.” I love Café Museum and not just because it was once designed by one of the main characters of one of my books – Adolf Loos.

I love it because you come here and feel relaxed and welcome. As soon as you take your seat, you feel a integral part of the place rich with history and culture and you know you can sit for hours without a hurry or worry.

Cafe Hawelka

Table free outside of Cafe Hawelka

Hawelka: Right off of Graben is where all the actors and artists loved to hang out. Amazing Austrian authors like Friedrich Torberg, HC Artmann and Hans Weigel liked to come here. Famous for its legendary Buchteln (sweet pull apart rolls often filled with jam and served with vanilla sauce), they are still made fresh in-house. The tables are situated in such a way that you feel like you are being discreet when you come here.

Cappuccino at Kleines Cafe

A Cappuccino at Kleines Cafe at Franziskanersplatz

I had the good fortune one day several years ago of spending a few hours with Leopold Hawelka, who opened the coffeehouse in 1939 with his wife, Josefine. I walked over to his Stammplatz, situated by the entrance where many an out-of-town visitor moseyed on by him unaware of who had just welcomed them in and I asked if he would mind if I asked him some questions about the Café Hawelka. I think I made his day. He clambered his 93-year old body down from his stool and fetched some books and photo albums and joined us at our table. As his wife, Josefine, buzzed around their guests, still directing the workings of the coffeehouse at age 91, Herr Hawelka proudly shared with us pages upon pages of newspaper clippings, photos and articles about their coffeehouse. And every few minutes, his stories would revert back to tales of his wife as he lovingly looked up at her who had no time to waste for such idle talk. Though both Josefine and Leopold have since passed away, their son has taken over the coffeehouse and still makes the Buchteln according to his mom’s famous recipe.

Kleines Cafe

Kleines Cafe at Franizskanersplatz

Kleines Café: What’s not to love about Franziskanerplatz? In summer, Kleines Café moves its table onto the square and though you are just steps from the busy Kärntnerstrasse you feel like you are in another world. “Kleines Café” means “Little Café” and the place is indeed small. Fans of the Ethan Hawk  and Julie Delpy film “Before Sunrise” (which I definitely recommend) will be happy to know that this is the place Jesse and Celine were having a coffee when a gypsy woman came along and read Celine’s palm and then told them not to forget that they are both stars.

Coffeehouse quotes:

The Viennese go to coffeehouses, because they do not want to stay at home but also don’t want to be outside, because they want to be alone, but in the company of others.
– Jörg Mauthe

People go to the coffeehouse to rest, to read newspapers, to work, to speak about important things, to see friends, to finish correspondences, to be close to beloved beings and those who should become such, people go for these and countless other reasons and go above all quite mechanically, out of habit, as a constitutional condition, as a reflex, without a particular occasion (which according to Karl Kraus proves signs of “nomadic domesticity”), occasionally people even drink a coffee in a coffeehouse, but that’s not the reason one goes there.
– Hans Weigel

The coffeehouse is a home with all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. You can leave it anytime. That is why you like to go there and hate to leave it. You have social possibility, so many, that you do not need to engage in them all. Company is available, talk, and you are a poised gentleman over chance. If you get bored, you can pay and leave –try doing that once when you are a guest or host in a home.
– Hans Weigel

 Auf Wiedersehen in Cafe Central  If you are Viennese and want to share the coffeehouse experience with a guest to the city, sign up to participate in the Vienna Coffeehouse Conversations from the end of September 2013 until the end of November 2013.

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Check out this cool post on the Vienna coffeehouse from Nicholas Parsons, October 2012, “The Ballad of the Wiener Kaffeehaus” as an ode to Vienna’s cafe culture.

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