October 16, 2010

Meierei - Vienna, Austria

We ate some fantastic food on our European holiday. Most of it we cooked ourselves, like quinoa with sausages and chanterelles, potatoes with lardons, creme fraiche and red peppers, and pasta with mushrooms, fresh soft cheese and more lardons. There were also so many amazing things to eat straight up. Thick, Greek natural yogurt, creamy with an amazing tang. Fresh sheep's cheese slathered on bread. The best pistachio gelato I've ever had in Paris. Fresh-smoked soft cheese in Denmark. Spicy, chewy, fatty and highly addictive sausages that we munched while walking around the streets of Vienna.

We only ate out a few times, and in the next few posts I'm going to tell you about some of those places. Let's start with Meierei.

Meierei is a cafe and milk bar in Vienna. (Meierei is the German word for dairy.) There are lots of great things about this place, but one of the best? Definitely its location. 

Meierei is inside the Vienna Stadtpark (city park). You can take the U-bahn line (subway) right into the park, although we walked here. Meierei is right below another, fancier restaurant called Steirereck im Stadtpark. The park is gorgeous, a long green rectangle with a canal running through it, big old trees, benches and statues. The restaurant sits overlooking the canal and the park. We didn't see where the entrance to Steirereck is, but we were beckoned down the stairs to Meierei by a big milk bottle. 

Once inside, the theme is definitely milk. Lots of milk. In fact, the walls of the foyer are covered with floor-to-ceiling photos of milk, all froth and bubbles. Inside the restaurant, there are milk bottles lining the wall behind the bar and white everywhere.  

We sat outside on the deck. It was beautiful out there, with a little shade from the awning. 

With J's lactose allergy, a restaurant specializing in milk might not seem like a natural choice. But I read about this place online and I knew they offered all different kinds of milk he could drink. They have cow's milk, goat's milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and even horse milk! That last one kind of freaked us out. On top of the plain milk they have all kinds of flavoured milks, warm or cold. J ordered strawberry goat's milk and I ordered warm cow's milk with cardamom.

We enjoyed them both, although the cardamom milk was very sweet. But of course we couldn't stop there. On top of milk, Meierei offers a full cafe menu, but one of their specialties is, of course, cheese. We are not ones to turn down a good cheese plate. Because of J's limitations, we went for the cow-goat-sheep plate, although I would have loved to try the selection of Austrian cheeses or raw milk cheeses as well. 

The presentation of the cheese plate was outstanding. I really loved the way they did it at Farm in Calgary, but this plate had so much elegance and panache. The smear of apricot preserves, the pumpkin seeds tossed haphazardly, and all the tiny labels on the flat porcelain made it very luxe.

Of course the cheese was fantastic. I don't remember how they all tasted and I definitely didn't take any notes, but we loved all of them but one. You see the little dish with the runny cheese in it? That one was vile. It was the consistency of gluey cheese fondue and tasted like strong, moldy garbage. We could barely smell it.  

But everything else was delightful. Of course the plate came with a basket of bread that I couldn't eat, but we had just bought some gluten-free bread, so I discreetly slid it out of my bag and into my lap, and ripped chunks off the slices to eat my cheese with. Very convenient.

While we were eating I felt the urge to try another kind of milk, so I ordered the milk with chocolate, orange and ginger. This concoction is something I can't get out of my head, and if I ever open a restaurant (not likely!) it is going on the menu. The concept is brilliant. A glass of warm milk arrives at the table accompanied by a frozen chocolate popsicle. You dip the popsicle into your milk and swirl it around until it tastes the way you like it. You can leave it in there to melt or eat it right off the stick. Amazing! And it tasted fabulous - rich chocolate spiced with orange and ginger. The most original hot chocolate I ever drank. 

We had already eaten a lot that day and I could barely finish the three cow's cheeses on the plate (of course I tasted all the others as well). It doesn't look like much, but with all that milk in me I was full to bursting. J decided to try one of the desserts, Rhubarb Snow with Violets. I was intrigued as to what this would be, and it looked gorgeous. It was basically a granita - shaved ice with sugar and flavourings. Despite the bright pink colour it didn't taste all that much like rhubarb. The highlight was the sugared violets. They were crunchy, sweet and like nothing we'd eaten before.   

Although we didn't sample the other food at Meierei, given the cheese and milk offerings I'm sure it's good. When we are next in Vienna I hope we can visit this place again. The temptation of amazing cheese and milk plus a beautiful location is a winner. 

Meierei im Stadtpark
Am Heumarkt 2A, A-1030 Wien



The Celiac Husband said...

What a place.
I haven't visited Steirereck since their move a few years back.
Great to see pictures from back home.
The cheese plate looks amazing.

Marianne and Charles said...

Wow, what an amazing place. The presentation of that cheese plate looks fantastic and is so pleasing to the eye.

The popsicle hot chocolate sounds so fantastic! What a great idea. And so perfect with orange and ginger. If I get to Vienna, this place is certainly on the list. Thanks for the post, Isabelle. Can't wait for more.

Marfa said...

I love milk. We have a cow share and get a gallon of raw milk from a local farmer every Friday. Was the milk there pasteurized and homogenized...are there laws about that in Europe like in the US? The warm milk with cardamom sounds divine...and the cheese sampling! I like to eat brie with jam...

Court said...

Yummy cheese plate picture!

Anonymous said...

I know this is old, but came across it looking for a source of raw milk in Vienna.
We lived three years in Kyrgyzstan where mare's (horse's) milk is a staple. And actually it's really the closest to human breast milk. But it has a tang and a sort of almost fizziness to it. At the time, my 2 year-old really loved it and had it milked for her on the spot quite often!