Monday, September 5, 2011

Wine and Coffee with Guenther Hawelka at Café Hawelka (and at Buffet Trzésniewski) in Vienna, Austria

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Guenther Hawelka at Cafe Hawelka in Vienna

Café Hawelka, which opened in 1939, is one of the most celebrated Coffee House in Vienna. I had a chance to chat a bit with Guenther Hawelka, the son of founder couple Leopold and the late Josefine Hawelka. Just across of Café Hawelka is Buffet Trzésniewski, another Vienna institution. Both Café Hawelka and Buffet Trzesniewski serve wine, but the choice is very limited and the wine not more than decent table wine.

Vienna Coffee Houses

Viennese Coffee Houses have a long and distinguished history that dates back centuries, when the Turks were about to take over Vienna and possibly the rest of Europe. These are places where people come to read (and write) books, trade gossip, and think and dream. A single cup entitles the drinker to sit there all day if necessary.

Picture: Vienna Cathedral

There are different kinds of Coffee Houses. (1) the Kaffee-Konditorei where the establishment's cakes and pastries are at the center and then there are the (2) traditional Coffee Houses, the smoky type, with a wide range of newspapers to read, and a waiter in a tuxedo. The latter serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The most famous Kaffee-Konditorei is arguably the Sacher in the Hotel Sacher next to the Opera. I like the famous Sacher Torte very much, but prefer the Sacher Torte of Café Demel on Kohlmarkt 14.

Café Hawelka

For decades, Café Hawelka attracted world renowned writers and artists such as H. C. Artmann, Ernst Fuchs, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Rudolf Hausner, Helmut Qualtinger and Gerhard Rühm,, who would discuss their ideas in the once smoke-filled establishment with worn sofas, small tables and old style, dark wooden coat racks. The interior decoration, done by a pupil of the renowned Jugendstil architect Adolf Loos, has remained untouched.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Guenther Hawelka at Cafe Hawelka in Vienna

Josefine Hawelka died in 2005 after managing the Café for sixty-six years with her husband Leopold, who turned 100 earlier this year. Josefine had baked the place's specialty, its Buchteln desserts. They are still made according to the old recipe by Günther, the Hawelkas' 70-year-old son who now runs the establishment with his two adult sons.

Viennese Coffee Terminologie

If I go to Café Hawelka – or any other Coffee House - in the afternoon or evening, I have a glass of red wine. But most people drink coffee – one of the following:

Kleiner Schwarzer: A small Espresso.

Kleiner Brauner: A small coffee served in a small cup with small amount of hot milk and milk foam.

Melange: A small Coffee, prepared with the double amount of water and mixed 1:1 with hot milk, served with milk foam. This is the coffee most similar to the Cappucino and probably the most popular among the Viennese varieties.

Einspaenner: A small Espresso served in a water glass, topped with plenty of whipped cream and powder sugar on the side.

Grosser Schwarzer: A large Espresso.

Picture: Grosser Schwarzer at Cafe Hawelka

Grosser Brauner: A large coffee served in a large cup with a small amount of hot milk and milk foam.

Maria Theresia Coffee: A Large Espresso served with Cointreau.

Fiaker: An "Einspaenner" with a shot of rum.

Buffet Trzésniewski

Not a Coffee House but also a Vienna institution, situated just vis a vis of Café Hawelka. Everyone in Vienna knows about this sandwich spot. Franz Kafka lived next door and used to come here for sandwiches. Most people hurriedly devour the delicious finger sandwiches, which come in 18 different combinations. You can also order wine with your snack.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller at Buffet Trzésniewski

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