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Posts tagged ‘coffeehouse’

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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Everything and More – the Kaffeesiederball 2015 in Vienna’s Imperial Palace

Because life is too short to wait around for good times to happen. You have to make them happen. – KC

Recently I received a document from – I loathe to admit this – a fellow American — addressed to me in Vienna, Italy. I understand that Vienna begins with a “V” as does “Venice.” And both cities have six letter names containing an “i,” an “e,” and an “n.” But Vienna is not Venice and Venice is not Vienna UNLESS, you were one of 6000 guests at the Kaffeesiederball at the imperial palace this past Friday night.

The theme of this year’s ball was “A Night in Venice.” Vienna’s Kaffeesieder have mastered the art of making a guest feel like royalty and their 58th ball in the imperial palace was no exception. Footmen donning red coats and white satin vests with gold buttons and trimming flanked the sides of the marbled grand staircase. All ladies ascending the red carpet to the ballrooms above were welcomed with a small gift resting on a silver platter — a brightly colored Carnival mask.

Footmen at Kaffeesiederball

Footmen on the grand staircase offering arriving ladies Carnival masks

The cakes designed by each of the various coffeehouses and raffled to guests featured designs such as the Rialto Bridge and gondolas. Your raffle ticket didn’t land you a Sacher Torte? No worries. Mine didn’t either but I did manage to score two bottles of champagne, a six pack of beer and a gift certificate to a coffeehouse. After all, every ticket wins. Over 11 bands and orchestras played in 7 different dance and ballrooms – to every kind of music from waltz, to polka to traditional Austrian folk songs to ABBA. Waltzing couples followed in the footsteps of the 88 white-gowned debutantes who opened the ball with their white-gloved partners in the grand ballroom. The DJ playing at the bottom of the Ambassador staircase had a great mix of music to get even the most rhythm challenged attendees jamming. Guests who preferred to rock a bit of the night away 60’s style could do so with the Bad Powells on the top floor. ABBA not your thing? The stair climb or elevator ride is still worth the effort to just hang out at the sky bar and enjoy the panoramic view of the palace dome and Rathaus at night. Hungry? There’s oysters flown in from France on the top floor, Würstel at the passage near the Ambassador Staircase, Gulasch and so much more at the bars across from the grand ballroom, Viennese winery food and song tucked away in the bottom floor of the palace near the Josefplatz entrance and Apfelstrüdel in the room across from the coat check. Tired? Grab a quick espresso in the Meinl coffeehouse near the entrance.

Chandeliers in Ballroom

Chandeliers in Ballroom

Feeling dizzy from the hunger strike you embarked on two days ago to squeeze into your one-size too small gown or feeling a blister sprouting from your too expensive, too tight, too high, sparkly new heels? No worries, one of the balls two tuxedoed emergency doctors can rush to your side and save the day. Your partner not dance-happy? One of the 25 available “Taxidancers” hired by the coffeehouse owners is sure to keep your restless feet waltzing for a Strauss tune or two.

At the end of the evening, at 3:30 in the morning, we decided to call it a night. As we exited the palace, charming ladies in ball gowns placed a Damenspende – a bag filled with gift certificates, marmalade, tea, Campari soda, a porcelain coffee cup, Niemetz Schwedenbomben  and other goodies into each of our hands. As we waited in the queue for a taxi, a white stretch limousine pulled up next us, tempting us to accept Café Landtmann’s generous free ride to breakfast in Sigmund Freud’s most beloved coffeehouse. I eyed my friend who gave an indecisive pause both of us reluctant to let the night (morning) draw to an end. But a gust of biting wind, her jet lag and my lack of sleep argued that it would be better to put our aching feet to bed.

Paris Trip Giveaway

Paris Trip Giveaway

This year, a friend from NYC, Monique Patterson, who is an executive editor at St. Martin’s Press, flew into town for the weekend so she could come along. I had gushed about the ball at a conference we met at last year. I told her I didn’t understand why more people didn’t come to Vienna to attend the balls because they are so much fun. I mean, how often does one get to play Cinderella for a night and attend a ball at an imperial palace? She agreed and not even a half a year later, I was standing at Vienna airport early Friday morning, waiting for her red-eye flight to arrive.

Ballroom with Live Jazz music

Ballroom with live Jazz music

Sometime in the midst of the evening, after more than one random handsome tuxedoed man had stopped her to compliment her on her gorgeous gown, and a camera crew interviewed her about her experience, as we were sipping our champagne and watching a group of ball-goers dress up with French props to compete to win a free trip to Paris, I asked, “Was it everything you imagined it to be?” She answered, “Everything. And so much more.”

More images from the 2015 Kaffeesiederball from the Kaffeesiederball website.

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Missed Kaffeesieder? Try another one. Here’s the 2015 Ball Calendar.

More blog posts on Vienna balls:

Balls 101: http://www.kcblau.com/viennaballs/

Renting a Guy to Dance for the Night: http://www.kcblau.com/taxidancers/

Balls and Sex – Dr. Ruth meets Emily Post: http://www.kcblau.com/balls-and-sex/

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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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