by Alison Crisp
Okay, I will admit it, I am having an affair.
I can’t help it. It doesn’t take much to become lost in the throes of passion, one whiff and I am gone.
I’ve tried to be strong many times but how can you say no when all your senses are screaming “Yes, yes, yes”?
My affair of the stomach started quite young and shows no signs of abating.
My addiction has me searching for restaurants, cafes and growers’ markets weeks before I head off on holiday.
In Vienna, I discovered the Naschmarkt not far from the centre of the city. There are 26 permanent markets in Vienna – Naschmarkt is the largest.
Whether you are looking for flowers, fruit or specialties such as Persian caviar and saffron, you will find the Naschmarkt a wonderful smouldering pot of culinary treasures.
I spent an hour or so zig-zagging through the market in a sensory trance, swept along on a nasal exploration. Olives, feta, stuffed bell peppers and other Mediterranean delights sit like bite-sized jewels in the Italian deli’s cabinet.
I stop at the Orient & Occident stall where women are hard at work conjuring up an array of Turkish treats that smell exotic and are ever so enticing.
I was sorely tempted by the Indian tandoori chicken, the hot-off-the-grill stuffed Middle Eastern breads and the doner kebab smelt great. But I was in Austria, so I lined up at my soon-to-be favourite stall – the chicken schnitzel stand.
It did not disappoint, a slight crunch and then the best melt-on-the-tongue experience schnitzel has ever given me.
It was so good – and at €3 ($A4.30) a schnitzel so cheap, I went back for seconds and would have gone back for thirds if my friends hadn’t spotted their favourite vice in the stall next door – slow-roasted ham knuckle.
There was only one size of knuckle and it was the Fred Flintstone serve.
As my friend Wayne sunk his teeth in and groaned with delight, his whole head almost disappeared behind the knuckle.
Sure enough, though, after a short time, his head reappeared behind an almost bare bone.
“One for the road,” he said as he purchased another giant knuckle, and we all staggered off to inspect the Viennese cake stand.
The Naschmarkt has become a popular meeting spot for the Viennese.
The market has more than a hundred stalls selling cuisine from around the world.
If you are not into standing and eating, there are also plenty of restaurant options.
If you love flea markets, then Saturday is the day for you. The flea market runs from 6.30am to 4pm every Saturday and sits adjacent to the food stalls. The foodies market runs Monday to Saturday from 6am until late.
*The writer was a guest of Emirates and the Intercontinental.
Emirates flies daily from Australia with connections through Dubai to Vienna.
There are lots of great hotels in Vienna but if you are looking for a bit of “olde world” European charm then the InterContinental is worth a look.
Although the InterContinental is quite a modern hotel on the outside, it definitely showcases Viennese charm when you cross the entrance threshold. The rooms are spacious with dark timber furnishings complemented with a palette of warm cream and natural, earthy tones.
The hotel is in a great central location directly across from the Stadtpark (a lovely, lush, green park).
I particularly liked the late checkout of noon.
The hotel has numerous dining options but, having arrived late evening from the airport, we choose to relax and enjoy a snack in the lobby bar.