Gänse Blümchen Food Tour, Vienna

We’d experienced several food tours and cookery courses in Italy and found them to be a fascinating, enjoyable and very social way of getting to know a city so when we arrived in Vienna we attempted to track down a company that could lay on a similar tour or course to what we’d been used to. It wasn’t easy, there are several companies listed in guide books and online lists but when you get down to the nitty gritty of finding course or tour dates it’s clear that many of them exist only in the summer or are not actually for tourists at all. In fact many of the courses were conducted in German only over a period of weekends, rather than a single day and were, the companies said, aimed at locals. So we were relieved when finally we had a positive answer, from Daniela & Karin of Gänse Blümchen, who run regular food tours and had one exploring Vienna’s 2nd District during the time we were in the city.

“We’re a new company and so far we’ve focused on showing local people new restaurants,” explained Daniela. “Austrians tend to have their favourite two or three restaurants and then stick to them so this tour is designed to introduce locals, as well as tourists, to new places to eat in Vienna. We’ll conduct the tour in English as well as German though, so you’re welcome to come along and experience a little of hidden Vienna!”

We met at a pre-arranged spot outside the metro station on Prater, which was just a couple of minutes walk from our hotel, Das Capri. There were two other customers in our group, both locals, and Daniella introduced us to each other and then led us a few hundred metres down the road to our first stop, a restaurant called ‘The Five Senses’.

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The ‘Five Senses’ only uses raw ingredients that are made in Austria, the manager who greeted us explained, ensuring that everything has a local flavour, regardless of the cuisine. We were offered a choice of drinks – I chose a local crisp white wine and Lamia had an apple juice…

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…and then we tried a house specialty; firm ravioli with a creamy porcini mushroom sauce, topped with Asian cress salad.

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The food was delicious and I enjoyed the fact that it was vegetarian and that the manager was happy to talk to us about the food. Later in the tour this wasn’t to be the case so it became just a tasting tour but at ‘The Five Senses’ it was clear that the manager was accustomed to offering a high level of service and also experienced in dealing with all sorts of clients. All in all, based on our own experience, we’d recommend you visit ‘The Five Senses’; if you’re staying at Das Capri, which we also recommend, it’s a very short walk away. Learn more about ‘The Five Senses’ Here.

After twenty minutes we moved on through the city…

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…to our next restaurant stop, ‘Hans Im Glück’.

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This restaurant served Spanish-Austrian fusion food. Mainly Spanish, really, with some local touches, as the owners all seemed to be from Spain. We were offered a choice of drinks; I had the Riesling Kamptal 2013 organic (enjoyable, quite fruity and fresh) which I’m told is known locally as the king of wines…

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…whilst Lamia chose the Weissburgunder 2013 organic (another local white wine, slightly sweeter than mine but just as pleasant).

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We looked over the menu, which we were told is seasonal. We were happy to see that the gluten free and vegetarian dishes were clearly marked.

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We didn’t have a choice from the menu though for our own food. We were to be brought three dishes, the first of which was pork cheek ravioli with liquorice sauce.

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Now, there was no second option for either vegetarians (me) or non pork eaters (Lamia), which is a bit of an oversight. We understand that this was a Spanish inspired restaurant and that both Spaniards and Austrians eat a lot of pork but really, this is the modern era and if you’re not offering a veggie option then not only are you ignoring some of the most educated members of society (how can you not go veggie when you learn how meat is produced, or what too much of it does to your own health?) but also the huge amount of tourists who have dietary restrictions due to religious reasons.

For the second course, we were offered salmon in a seaweed tempura with couscous.

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So, another dish I had trouble with, but Lamia could eat it and she enjoyed it a lot. As you can see, the presentation was superb.

Finally we all tucked into the chestnut tiramisu. It was very different to a traditional tiramisu – more of a cake than whipped cream with coffee soaked biscuits – but I do love the subtle taste of chestnut and thought this dish a success.

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We enjoyed this little three course taster menu and the wine list was excellent but apart from the lack of veggie options there’s one little thing to mention; that when you’re on a tour that caters to both locals and tourists you have to accept that the main language used will be the local one. That’s only fair. Everybody tried to include us and speak English now and again but be prepared for the bulk of the conversation to be in German. Not a problem really, just something to be aware of. Discover more about ‘Hans Im Glueck’ Here.

We walked on through Vienna’s 2nd quarter for ten minutes…

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…before arriving at ‘Wulfisch’, a take away place serving a variety of fish options run by a talkative, friendly guy from Hamburg.

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I had a Jever beer here, a decent brew with a strong taste that paired excellently with the fish wraps.

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I liked this place the best out of all that we visited. The guy from Hamburg was genuine, relaxed and happy to talk (spoke great English too), there was decent seascape photography on the walls, the beer was excellent and the food was interesting, comfort style. Ok, I don’t usually eat fish but I used to and could tell that this was fresh, tasty and healthy too. You can find out more about ‘Wulfisch’ Here.

Our next stop was the Okra Sushi Bar.

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For drinks here Lamia had a distilled apple juice with sparkling water and I had a light pilsner beer. Our tasting dish was teriyaki chicken strips with rice and vegetables.

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We really enjoyed eating with chopsticks and the food was pretty good. The rice served is apparently grown in Italy as the owner says it’s the best rice he can get for Japanese cooking. We enjoyed the eating experience there and would say that if you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit. Find out more about ‘Okra’ Here.

Our final restaurant stop of the evening was at ‘Lokal’.

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Here we had another drink – in my case another excellent white wine that the Austrians seem to excel at creating – and ate a dessert called ‘Molke’, from the area known as Vorarlberg.

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‘It reminds me of the South Asian sweet dish, ‘Roshmalai’”, said Lamia. It was creamy, crunchy, sweet and sour all at once. We all seemed to love it and the restuarant was the most crowded of all that we’d visited so I guess locals thought well of the place too. Discover more about ‘Lokal’ Here.

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At the end of the tour we each got a lovely gift; a pot of sea salt with dried daisy.

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My thoughts as we walked back to our hotel were that the tour was certainly very generous. All of the food and drink that I’ve mentioned are included in the price, so you do get value for your money. On the other hand, I felt that the tour could benefit from a brief introduction being given by the guide at each restaurant to explain why we’re at that particular restaurant, what we’re going to experience, the significance of food in Viennese culture and the contents and history of the food in front of us. Because more often than not the first thing we knew of the food was when the staff brought it to us and then we were just left alone to eat it. Which isn’t at all bad, of course, it’s just that as I said at the start of this article, we’d been on several food tours in Italy so we had slightly different expectations. Just a little bit more talking from the guides, and we feel that this tour will be superb.

To find out more, please visit http://www.gaensebluemchen.at

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