Vienna — Culture, Christmas, and Comfort Food

Culture and Lifestyle, Travel

By Sophia Obrecht

Vienna, the undisputed capital of culture. Overflowing with history, art, and music, the city is full of galleries and museums to discover. At Christmas the Austrian Hauptstadt also has a festive edge with a Christmas market on every street corner. For me one of the best parts of visiting the city is getting to fill up on all my favourite Austrian foods, from desserts, to hearty main dishes, there is no end to tasty comfort food on the menu. So sit back, relax, and read on to find out how to make the most of your time in Vienna.

Admire the Architecture

If you’re looking to explore the city’s architectural gems then look no further than Vienna’s Ringstrasse, built between the 1860’s and 1890’s. The boulevard, located in the first district, is the best place to admire a host of building without having to move from one end of the city to the other. The buildings on the Ringstrasse were built during the period of Historicism: a style which encompasses different architectural styles from previous ages used to evoke bygone eras. As a result of this form of architecture the Ringstrasse is a space which looks as though it was built up over hundreds of years, instead of the space of 30. From the state opera, the Vienna stock exchange, the university building, or the Museums of fine art and natural history, you can’t help but be impressed.

Get up to Speed on Austrian Art

No trip to Vienna would be complete without seeing some of the country’s most famous artworks. My personal favourite is Klimt’s painting ‘The Kiss’, housed in the Belvedere, if only for the purity and beauty of the painting. While you’re there be sure to check out some of Gustav Klimt’s other famous works, including Judith or Adam and Eve. For a more striking and arguably disturbing approach to art Egon Schiele’s works are a stunning exploration of sexuality, self-image, and raw emotions. Other famous artists include Oskar Kokoschka and Friedensreich Hundertwasser (check out the famous Hundertwasser House in Vienna’s third district for a lesson in art, mosaic, and architecture)

Find the Perfect Breakfast Spot (on a Budget)

There are of course no end to cafes and breakfast spots to enjoy in Vienna. But from one friend to another check out the rooftop restaurant located in the furniture store Leiner on Mariahilfer Strasse for the cheapest breakfast in town. The food is basic, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, and for less than 3 Euro for breakfast and a coffee, it’s certainly the best spot for any students on a budget. The best part of the dining experience, is however, the view. A local secret, this rooftop restaurant offers a fantastic vantage point of the inner city with domes and spires as far as the eye can see.

Indulge in the Coffee Culture and Taste Every Dish on the Menu

Famous for its coffee culture, in which locals order their famous Melange (a Viennese cappuccino of sorts), and sit for hours in their favourite cafes, you too can experience the true Viennese lifestyle. Of course there are the classic coffee houses of Café Central, or Café Landtmann, where the intellectuals of the 19th century would gather and discuss theories of philosophy, art, and politics. Just be aware that these places tend to be slightly expensive and full to be brim with tourists, nevertheless the classic cafes are still worth a visit. So cameras at the ready and make sure to get that perfect shot of a classic apple strudel and coffee for your Insta feed.

While you’re in the city make sure you try some classic Austrian dishes, from Schnitzel, to Kaiserschmarrn, or my personal favourite Marillenknödel, the traditional food is just too good to resist!  

Explore the Christmas Scene

If you happen to find yourself in Vienna during the festive season take a stroll through the famous Christmas markets, from the Rathaus, to Karlsplatz and even Schönbrunn Palace, there is a host of markets to see. My personal favourite and a low key event, is the market at Spittelberg, with stalls lining the narrow streets there is something especially cosy about this Christmas market.

On the other hand, if you’re hoping to explore Vienna during the summer months, head to the famous film and food festival at the Rathaus. There is literally every type of food stall you can imagine and a huge cinema screen right in the city centre screening opera and ballet performances! How much more cultured can you get?

Easy Cuisine: Butternut Squash and Bacon Risotto

Culture and Lifestyle

by Liz Ryder 

Tis the Season…for comfort food!

This risotto recipe is easy to make and perfect for a wintery evening with friends, as well as a perfect way to make use of one of my fav winter vegetables, the humble Butternut Squash. 

Although this recipe contains bacon, this recipe can easily be made vegetarian by substituting this for more veg (peas and mushrooms both work well!) 

This dish serves 4 people, but can be easily adapted for more! 

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Ingredients

1 onion, chopped 

1 small pack of bacon lardons 

½ butternut squash, diced 

Glass of white wine (optional) 

250g Risotto rice  

1L of veg stock (for a cheaper alternative I just mix boiling water and two vegetable stock cubes) 

½ pack of grated parmesan cheese 

Fresh or dried parsley (optional) 

Equipment

Chopping board, knife, large saucepan, medium saucepan, wooden spoon and a ladle  

Method

1) Add the oil to the pan and fry the bacon lardons on a medium heat for about five minutes. For a healthier alternative I try to use olive cooking spray as the bacon doesn’t really need it! 

2) Add the chopped onion for a few minutes and then add the diced butternut squash. Cook the ingredients until the butternut squash is a little soft. This can often take about 10 mins or so! 

3) Add the rice and stir to make sure that all the rice is coated. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the wine and stir.  

4) Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, add the hot water and veg stock together. You want to keep this warm throughout the cooking process so keep the saucepan on a gentle heat.  

5) Once the rice has absorbed the wine, slowly add the vegetable stock one ladle at a time. Keep stirring the risotto until all the liquid has been absorbed before adding more stock. This process can take a while and not all the stock may be needed. I tend to cook the rice for about ½ an hour and then see. 

6) Taste the rice, it should still be a little al dente. Add the grated parmesan and parsley and stir until the cheese has all melted.  

7) Serve and enjoy!