Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Village Life in the Weinviertal

Three cheers (again) for the Niederösterreich Card. No, I am not endorsing the NÖ Card in an official capacity, I just can't express my love for the card enough. For a mere €54 per year per person, I am treated to free or deeply discounted access to over 250 castles, palaces, museums, churches, and more across Niederösterreich as well as Burgenland, Öberosterreich, Steiermark and even Wien! The card had already paid for itself sometime in the spring with my outings, so the rest of this year's outs and abouts are gratis.  Yay for me!

Enough digression.

The Autobahn is usually my preferred roadway between two points around here; though, en route to favorite places in the Czech Republic one must exit the speedway and transit through the Weinviertal, Austria's largest wine region spanning the northeastern part of the country and into wine villages (at the "charming" speed of 30 or 50 kilometers per hour) that resemble this photo from the Internet. I have long been enamored with these villages of stoic structures all in a row, and in looking for something to amuse me and Anna Grace today, we decided to visit an outdoor living wine village museum in nearby Niedersulz. A great decision. We both pronounced it worth our while to visit. 
The "village" is a working museum, complete with vines and barn animals. This is a hut used to store various vineyard equipment. They are sprinkled all around the vineyards, including those here in Vienna, but we've not been able to examine one until today. Rakes, hoes, and a family of mice were all we found.
Next up was the barn. Goats and Hungarian sheep smell great on a hot and humid summer day. 

This particular goat followed us around the pen, demanding love. Anna Grace obliged.
We were impressed that descriptions of the buildings were provided in English! This is a typical example of a tradesperson's home with workshop.
A more upscale kitchen, and rather pleasant. Not to mention about six times the size of my kitchen, and I, too, live in an old wine village home.
Now this looks more like my kitchen. ;)
Pretty village scenes, including a garden inspired by plants described in the Bible.

Along the "Kellergasse," various (wine) pressing houses lined the street.

The village school, with a Year 3 class photo of most dour students.

And…the only museum of Anabaptist life in Austria. Anabaptists were a radical reformation group of 16th century Europe, eventually branching into Amish and Mennonites. 
So radical were the Anabaptists, in fact, that Anabaptist women who married non-Anabaptist men became prisoners in their own home. Literally. Long chains allowed the women to move inside and out, but they could not leave their home. Because the men who married them were often a bit radical, the men were fine with having the old ball and chain around the house. Okay, then.
On that note…a final view of the village before the afternoon rains chased us home.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Food. The Family Sport.

We are a family for whom eating is a shared favorite sport, though we all play different positions on the team.  Jack is in Garmisch for his summer job with Boy Scouts, over-indulging on American bacon and goodness-knows-what-else, though he did text to ask if we could have homemade enchiladas when he returns next week (I'm guessing Scout Camp Taquitos aren't all that good). Tony was in Hanoi last week for work and reported on the delicious Korean food his colleagues from Seoul introduced to him. And Anna Grace and I were having fun with our own personal "Spicy Week" at home in the kitchen: Thai panang chicken curry (heavy on the panang); Korean bulgogi beef and rice bowls (with extra Sriracha, of course); and pasta aglio e olio (there is no such thing as too much aglio).

Both children have extremely diverse palates, but their tastebuds are not at all related. This I blame lovingly on their nannies. Jack's nanny prepared delicious meat-and-potato dishes for him as a baby, and now strong Asian and Indian spices send him running from the dinner table. Anna Grace's nanny, on the other hand, was Bangladeshi and so Anna Grace's first foods included curries and spicy samosas. For her, the spicier, the better. Thankfully, finding the ingredients to please everyone is as easy as a 15-minute U-Bahn ride away to Prosi, the "exotic" supermarket.

And what fun there is to be had at Prosi, middle school humor notwithstanding.
 Kraft Cheddar Cheese spread, with instructions (?) in English and Arabic.
 Del Monte Filipino Spaghetti Sauce. In a pouch. What makes spaghetti Filipino, we wonder?
 Corned beef in a keyed-tin from Brazil, makes perfect sense.
Oh, those long, luxurious aisles of sauces and condiments.

And the tall, gleaming shelves filled with tasty vacuum-packed Indian snacks for Anna Grace.
A few oddities to amuse us, always. Tang in the Latin American section of the store. Wonder if Latin American astronauts drink it?
 "Strong Chicken" in the freezer.
 In the "Eww" category, soy schnitzel; fake Cheez Whiz (the real stuff is abominable!) and squirty jalapeño "cheese;" and spicy tuna cracker sandwiches.  Eww, indeed.

Not surprising, either, that Anna Grace and I sought to cheer ourselves up after a most dreadful visit to a contemporary art museum earlier this week by dropping in for lunch at Rathausplatz, the square in front of City Hall. There is almost always something going on to attract visitors and locals alike, and for the remainder of the summer the city is hosting a film festival by night, and an international food festival by day, with local restaurants tempting us with everything from ratatouille to curries to schnitzel. What would it be?
Brazilian chicken with peanut sauce?
 Lamb curry?
Anything or everything from the Persian stall?
And then, calling to us, fresh and crispy Sprotten from the Croatian stall. So it was decided. Cevapcici, grilled squid, and a shared platter of teeny fried herrings with garlic dipping sauce.

Tony is home from Vietnam tonight, and brought his favorite gals silk scarves and spices. So what is on the dinner menu? Why, fish sticks and homemade macaroni and cheese, of course!