Beethoven: 1; Strauss: 0

Vienna, Austria Another glorious day and the world is out strolling the avenues and lingering at the cafés. We started our day with a little window shopping on a grand scale.

Just for kicks, we stopped in to the Dorotheum Auction House, Vienna’s answer to Sotheby’s and Christies. What a glorious building. We suspect that it was originally Dorothy’s house, when she stopped living in Kansas. I prefer to believe this rather than focusing on the critical role the auction house played in dispersing stolen Nazi goods. Lots of jewelry, furniture and paintings.

More strolling and more gorgeous buildings to drool over.

We planned to devote this day to the musical culture this city is known for. Our first stop was the favorite residence of Ludwig Van Beethoven, in which he stayed during several periods of his life in Vienna. It was in this apartment that he composed his only opera, Fidelio.

While he did have lovely views, mainly of the university, Ludwig did have the most exhausting climb up to this fourth floor hideaway. Don speculates that he got a lot done here because visitors took one look at those stairs and left. Not a place where you could run out for a quart of milk easily.

Regardless, once we caught our breath, it was interesting to see the artifacts and get a sense of the man.

One can also visit Mozart’s house, as well as Hayden’s, both of which we toured on our last trip. Next we planned to stop into the Museum of the Johann Strauss Dynasty, supposedly a huge collection of Strauss memorabilia.

But when we got there, we found a locked door and a neighbor who volunteered that it had closed. There is another Strauss building, so maybe we’ll give him a second chance.

Don’s Food Corner

Around the corner from Beethoven’s place is one of Vienna’s famed cafes, Café Landtmann. This was Freud’s favorite café. He lived around the other corner. (We visited Freud’s apartment the last time we were in Vienna, so we skipped it this time.) The café first opened in this location in 1873. Since then it has gone through many renovations and expansions. But it remains a key fixture in Vienna. We ate here the first time we were in Vienna and had a good experience, so we tried it again.

We arrived without reservations, but were seated anyway. Not a great table, but considering that all the rest of Vienna wanted to be there at the same time (Saturday lunch) as us, it wasn’t so bad.

While it wasn’t listed on the English menu, we saw that they had some asparagus specials. It’s asparagus season so we focused on that.

Jo started with a cream of asparagus soup. It was fantastic. I’m not sure how they did it, but the soup was not green as you would expect from cooking asparagus and then pureeing it with some cream. Instead, it was a white soup with slices of both green and white asparagus mixed into it. Perhaps it was a creamed potato soup with the asparagus added later. But it tasted like asparagus throughout. (I’ll have to find out to do it at home.) Perhaps it was a white asparagus base with the green asparagus added later….

Jo then went on to — you guessed it — wiener schnitzel. The kitchen was turning out a lot of wiener schnitzel today, as it must every day. This was an exceptionally good version. Crunchy puffed up breading and perfectly tender, thin veal. It came with parsley potatoes and a mixed green salad. Jo rated it A. She’s fearful of giving an A+ in case we encounter something even better in the next week.

I was going to start with what I thought was first course serving of white asparagus with Hollandaise sauce. The waiter cautioned me that the serving was very large and that it was really a main course serving. I appreciated the advice and ordered just the asparagus dish with some added sliced ham.

It was superb. Five huge white asparagus with a magnificent Hollandaise sauce that had that lemon/cream ratio just right. It was indeed rich and filling. I couldn’t have had anything after that.

Café Landtmann lived up to our memory of the place as well as to its historic reputation.

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