Friday, January 06, 2006


for my 10th birthday, which i spent at my great aunt's house in suburban london, i was served a homemade sachertorte with candles in it. it was so unlike the creamy, fluffy birthday cakes i had at home, i was mesmerized. hidden between these dense chocolate layers was the faintest hint of raspberry jam. the chocolate frosting was not the thick buttery american kind; it was thin and shiny and delicate.

my great aunt annie was an austrian jew who, like her brother (my grandfather) fled vienna when the nazis came to town. the food i enjoyed that entire week in her home was thick and rich: goulash and spaetzle, and my beloved sachertorte. i have held a place in my heart for this food ever since. i went to prague and vienna as a 20 year old and gorged myself on wiener schnitzel and bread dumplings and goulash. this was my ancestral homeland, and this food my ancestral food.

yesterday my mom and i went to the neue gallery to take in some egon schiele, but stopped in at cafe sabarsky before we looked at the art. cafe sabarsky is charmingly old world, and completely austrian in feel, much in the same way as thomas beisl is, across from BAM. in an effort to stay close to my roots, we ordered a "sausage salad" and smoked trout crepes. i also had a terrific cafe latte. the sausage salad was terrifying to look at. it appeared to be long flat strips of spam, tossed with cheese, greens, sliced radishes, slivered red bell peppers and vinaigrette. it was actually delicious, and not even that heavy. mom was not a fan of her trout crepes. they were delicate and crunchy, more like egg rolls than the soft french-like crepes i pictured.

the desserts were behind us, laid out on a marble shelf, and looking preposterously good. next time, i will definitely partake of sachertorte and viennese hot chocolate, and bring myself back in time to aunt annie's house .

1 comment:

Sam Grobart said...

You should come to Cafe Steinhof on 7th and 14th St. in Park Slope. Good wursts, schnitzel and half-price goulash on Mondays (and the opportunity to hang out with Hilary and me). Added note: Thomas Beisl was the old chef at Cafe Des Artistes, when it was still good.