Author Archives: Aoífe-Maria Beglin

Vienna Calling

As my participation in my latest course at the Deutsch Akademie in Wien comes to a close, I have come to appreciate the attractions of this beautiful city more than ever. From the elegant townhouse facades, to the beautiful shades of the fall foliage; from the old-world bustle of the streets, to the jaunty street trams jingling past; from the rich history evident on every corner to the easy pace of life here – Vienna is a city which has numerous positive qualities to extol.  Experiencing for the first time the city in its autumnal clothing has also been wonderfully enjoyable to witness thanks to the city’s attractive layout.

The studies themselves this past month also proved to be challenging but were precisely what I needed, and I was glad to have once again chosen a course with Deutsch Akademie. As the expression goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and since I had already found the standard of courses in the school to be of high quality at a competitive price-point, I was happy that I continued with Deutsch Akademie this semester.  My teacher was excellent: confidently knowledgeable whilst constantly pushing us to attain a better level of written and spoken German.  The atmosphere in the class every day was one of positivity and enthusiasm, even if many of us arrived to class after an already long work-day, and I always looked forward to seeing my comrades-in-grammar-arms, to share our knowledge and have the craic. Meanwhile the team in the office are always nothing but a pleasure to deal with: on every occasion I have needed assistance, I was always greeted with a warm smile and a helpful attitude.  Another plus which I really appreciated is the convenient location of the school itself, right next to Karlsplatz U-Bahn station: a major plus for those of us who must dash between work and studies, juggling schedules with narrow margins for time-errors. For anyone thinking of dipping their toes into the tricky-waters that is the German-language, I highly recommend Deutsch Akademie as the place to study.

Although I never planned to find myself in Vienna, much less Austria, I am very thankful for the circumstances which have brought me here. Though the language is challenging and this barrier can make life that bit more difficult, this pales in comparison with the innumerable advantages which I have been blessed to experience since coming to live here. There is an enriching quality of life to be had in the capital city of this beautiful little country in the heart of Europe.

City of Spires, City of Churches

If Oxford is known as the City of Spires, then Vienna ought to be known as the City of Churches.

Rounding any corner of the city streets brings one face-to-face with a magnificent cathedral or brought unsuspectingly onto the doorstep of a tiny but exquisitely crafted chapel, tucked unassumingly onto some little side-street.  If there is ever reason to stand and marvel at the craftsmanship of men long gone us, it must be by gazing upon the any of the chapels and churches scattered across the city landscape of Austria’s capital.

Both inside and out, the interior and exterior of these places of worship reflect countless hours of work – the cumulative common-goal of innumerable craftspeople.  From the apprentice just starting out in his trade, to the master who has honed his craft over several decades of practice, every level of tradesman was employed in the making of these buildings, confections of constructions as they are.  The architects and builders; the masons and bricklayers; the joiners and carpenters; the roofers and plumbers (and later, electricians); the glaziers and glassblowers; the stucco-artists and sculptors; the lapidarists and the mosaicists; the guilders and the marquetrists; the plasterers and the painters – all working together for a single vision which is simultaneously the combined vision of all those multiple people involved.

I think more than any other building, it is these religious houses of worship which inspire me since I cannot but help think upon how the fashioning of a single structure represents the livelihoods and life’s work of so many people.  Essential to what makes these buildings more than just excuses for overly-zealous artistic flourishing is the fact that they are designed precisely as places to worship and give thanks to God. I don’t think that any other reason could be enough to provide sufficient motivation for these labours of love, which required painstaking attention to detail, dedication and patience over extended periods of time. Think of the last time you painted your kitchen or re-wallpapered your living-room: that alone is usually significantly strenuous enough of an undertaking, that we resolve only to do so as infrequently as possible, never mind having to attempt something which these great artisans did!

Perhaps the next time you step into one of these historical gems, allow yourself a moment away from behind the camera and really seek to absorb with your eyes the reality before you: to think for a moment on all those persons who brought these great works of art alive, standing the test of time so that we can still now enjoy it today.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

Travelling through the city the other day, I was suddenly struck by the incongruousness of an old little city home, sitting squat and low in between its taller neighbours.  It wasn’t a particularly beautiful building and yet there was something impressive in its resolute determination, holding its own as it was amongst the other statelier constructions.  I was reminded of the children’s animated movie ‘Up’ which, for those of you who haven’t seen it, tells the story of the elderly Carl as he recalls the various adventures he and his wife Ellie partook in over the course of their life together.  This quirky little sketch from Pixar is marketed at children, although like many children’s movies these days, has many subtle lessons which adults can learn from.  Across the course of the story, we learn that success isn’t immediate and that hard work, patience and perseverance are required to achieve our goal; that we have to keep going even when things seem bleak; that our final goal may be not be that which we first set out to accomplish but that it can be even more worthwhile and beautiful than we could have initially imagined.  In the building of a culture, I think there are many parallels which can be drawn with the above example, particularly in what defines a particular culture as that culture.

This is echoed across the city of Vienna in various ways, particularly visible in the architectural styles separating the old from the new through the progression of time.  The beauty of the rich heritage of Austria is precisely what attracts the scores of visitors to the country every year, and yet for the Austrians themselves, it is progress in the name of modernity which drives them on, giving rise to the glass-and-steel constructions which would comfortably place one in any modern city in the world.

Looking at the old and the new standing side-by-side, it also made me question what exactly Austrian culture means to those of us who are visitors in this land.  What characteristics do we perceive as necessary in order for us to understand something as Austrian, as being embedded in the Austrian culture?  And that further gives rise to the question as to how culture changes over time such that it is distinctly and recognisably different and yet still entirely belonging to that particular people and location.  For me personally I treasure the rich heritage of the country  that is Austria: once the heart of a massive empire, now still a beautiful little nation in the heart of Europe.

I love their dedication to tradition, their homage and respect to those who went before the current generation, those who ploughed the furrow and left the legacy which we visibly see standing today.  Those countless men and women who worked hard so that future generations would know what it means to be Austrian.  Naturally it would not do to only view history through rose-tinted lenses and it is a great boon that Austria truly is a twenty-first century nation.  Yet I dearly hope, that in the search for innovation and modernity, that the Austrian people do not lose sight of the things in common which define them as Austrians, the collective memory which makes a culture.

Flower Power

If you should find yourself in the Inner Stadt some afternoon with an hour or so to spare, I highly recommend taking a stroll in one of Wien’s numerous public parks and gardens.

Natually the Volksgarden is always highly ranked on the list of attractions in the city thanks to its beautiful flowerbeds, rose-arches and superbly maintained box-hedging, aided as it is by ease of access and central location. The rose collection is particularly spectactular and if you should find yourself there in the spring, you can expect to be greeted by over 400 various species of rose.  Yet this is only one option amongst many. Not too far away, the Botanical Gardens of the University of Wien in the Belvedere are probably one of the oldest public flower gardens in the city, having been established in 1754 by Kaiserin Maria Theresia.  Approximately 12,000 different species of plant are to be found there and the grounds are beautifully maintained.  Moving a little west, the Rose Gardens of the Schönbrunn, accompanied by the Botanical Gardens of Schönbrunn, are to be found all situated within the parkgrouds of Schönbrunn Palace itself. Out in the 12th District there is the Hirschstetten Botanical Gardens, along with the Austrian Horticultural Museum. There I learned that, though it is the national symbol of the Netherlands, it was in fact Vienna which was noted for cultivating the first tulips! A vast wealth of various blooms can be found here, palm-houses, as well as Wedding, Mexican and Indian themed-gardens. Then we have the Palmenhaus major located in the Imperial Palace, a well-preserved Art Nouveau construction, home to a wide myriad of exotic and tropical plants as well as a wine-and-cocktail bar. Even along the side of the streets, on traffic-islands and edging car-parks neat little patches of sunny blooms are to be found, enlivening an otherwise grey space.  To continue to detail here all the various parks and gardens would be a bit overly ambitious and beyond the scope of our blog, given that there are over 280 such gardens in the capital.  In total, there are approximately 2,000 parks in the city of Vienna and over half of the metropolitan is given over to green areas.  As the Mercer Study this year voted Vienna the world’s most liveable city for the ninth year running, it is no small wonder given the astounding variety of green spaces which make this international city a wonderful place to call home.

L – O – V – E

The issue of graffiti is something which grabs everyone’s attention: whether you are of the opinion that public (and private!) walls are fair game for flourishes of artistic self-expression, or whether you think  is vandalism of the highest order, there is no denying the fact that graffiti is a feature of every city landscape and Vienna is no exception.

Most of the time, the ability to discern what exactly the grattifist’s ‘tags’ depict requires a degree in ancient hieroglyphics and an exhaustive knowledge of street-cred, which is probably beyond the reach of the average pedestrian.  Recently however, my eye was caught by a small red slash etched onto the glass of a window pane: lower case, Calibri-like and unassuming: “i love you”.  Reflected in the autumnal sun, I wondered what it was exactly that might cause someone to take up a marker and risk a fine for the sake of those simple letters.  What was it about love exactly that compels man to do great and heroic things, as well as small and unnoticed things?  Why do we all seek to love and to be loved?  What is it about love that is written into our hearts across cultures and languages; across seas, rivers and mountains?  The most basic longing of the human heart.  And then in the same manner as the question arose, a few days later my question was answered, once more through the wisdom of the streets: “Deine Tränen sind mein”.  And this I thought summed up perfectly the meaning of true, sincere love: love that wills the good of the other, through the joys and also through the sorrows; suffers with the beloved and willingly suffers for the beloved.  Thank you, Wisdom of the Streets!


An Der Schönen Blauen Donau

It is an almost-certifiably fact that anyone who has ever turned on a radio, watched a television advertisement, stepped into a hotel lobby, cruised the aisles of a swanky food store or has seen a movie at any point in their lives, will have heard the waltz An der schönen blauen Donau aka. The Blue Danube.  From dance classes to wedding receptions, graduation balls to retirement parties, the dance-floor is never empty when the strains of the opening chords of this famous and most beloved piece of music are to be heard.  It is the piece of music which inspires even non-dancers to glide like Fred Astaire across the boards, twirling and spinning all the way through the nearly ten-minute long composition (and potentially longer if you are with an ensemble with a penchant for repeats).

Arguably the most famous of all waltzes ever notated, it is interesting to note that when this piece was first written by Johann Strauss II, text was included as it had been requested as a commission and intended for a men’s choir, the Wiener Männergesangsverein.  The debut of The Blue Danube on February 15th, 1867 was considered by Strauss to be a flop and he was greatly regretful of how the audience received it.  It was not until 1867, when Strauss adapted the piece to be a purely orchestral composition for the World Fair in Paris that it was hailed as a wild success, the popularity of which has hardly waned since.

Having played the violin from an early age, I know the notes of the piece inside-out and have played it countless times with various orchestras and ensembles.  However since the Danube doesn’t actually flow through the city centre, it was not until I recently undertook a cruise on the Donau that I first had a new insight into Strauss’ inspiration for the writing of his most famous composition.  Travelling by bike west-east downstream from Regensburg to Vienna, the trip took three days, with the presence of the water like a constant friend guiding the way.  Naturally there is also the opportunity to travel by boat along the river, with numerous pick-up points to be found dotted along the river’s course.  The route is not at all strenuous and there is ample opportunity to go swimming, lay in the sun or chat with fellow travellers – truly a cruise indeed!  Most surprising of all, was that the journey revealed the waters to truly be blue – so much so, that at times the banks appeared like those of a Mediterranean beach – a rather unexpected result given the amount of commercial traffic to be found on the river.  In any case, either by bike or by boat, cruising down the Donau is to be recommended as a pleasant way to see a little bit of the Austrian countryside – either with or without Strauss’ soundtrack!

The Viennese Coffee House

When one explains to family or friends that you live in Vienna, the topic of the coffee-houses will almost inevitably be one of the first things to be mentioned.  Naturally one only has to look around at the plethora of cafés smattered all over the city to arrive at the conclusion that the consumption of the black beverage is of importance to the denizens of this town, but this is no mere modern-day phenomenon. The rich history of Kaffee in Wien is a tradition which stretches back over half a century.

But removing ourselves for a moment from the Viennese context, we learn that coffee itself in Europe has an interesting history.  The first mention of it in the European context is in 14th century Venice, Italy, at that point in time a trading hub of immense importance.  It was imported from the Ottoman Empire, where the havesting and production had already been long established.  Simultaneously, the coffee trade spread from Egypt and the North African regions to Spain and southern Europe.  These two influential trade-routes converged to establish the coffee bean as a valuable and much-sought-after commodity.   In Vienna it was after the triumph of the Battle of Vienna that coffee really took off as a beverage to be enjoyed on a regular basis, with the opening of the first coffeehouse recorded in 1683. The long association of this city with its coffee-houses stems from this point, as coffee became a beverage to be consumed by the wider populace. Through the efforts of the East India Trading Company and the British Company and their vested interests in the trade of java, caffeinated beverages – coffee and black tea – became the most commonly consumed hot beverages across the Continent.

Nowadays in Vienna, there is an almost infinite number of coffee variations to be had in any coffee-purveying establishment.  Even the most humble little café will boast an impressive litany of variations on the theme.  Most noted and particular to Vienna is the Wiener Melange, similar to a cappuccino, comprising of a shot of espresso in a large cup, topped up with steamed milk and a little foam.  In addition to the vast number of coffee-shops in the capital, there are also a great number of notable coffee brands which have been established in Vienna, most famously Julius Meinl.  In my experience, the wonderful atmosphere which can typically be found in the Viennese coffeehouses stems largely from the fact that there are places where one can quietly read, enjoy a well-brewed cup of coffee and savour a moment of undisturbed peace to gather one’s thoughts. As the autumn evenings drawn in, take advantage of this uniquely Viennese experience!

The Horse as Man’s Best Friend

No matter what time of year it is, no matter the weather, a constant sight to behold on the streets of Wien are the many Fiaker, or horse-drawn carriages. These are as Viennese as the Oper and an integral part of the old customs of the Viennese culture.  In the dusk of evenings, one almost expects to encounter a gas-man out of the shadows, going around lighting the gas-lamps as one would expect in the hey-day of horse-drawn transportation – the gate-way into another age!

The word ‘Fiaker’ itself is derived from Rue de Saint Fiacre in Paris, named for the Irish patron saint Fiachre, the location where what can be considered the first commercial horse-taxis began.  According to the official website of the Fiaker club, there are approximately 100 such teams of horses and coachmen available for hire across the city: either for the tourist-tour or occasionally, festively decked-out for a wedding party.  It can be easy to dismiss the offer of a horse-drawn carriage ride as nothing more than a cheesy, tourist-driven attraction, but the fact is that the horse was an essential mode of transportation for millennia, the skills of which were highly valued. Horsemanship was a highly accomplished trade, one which was handed down from generation to generation.  It was only after the Second World War that the popularity of the horse-drawn transportation dropped dramatically, as automobiles took off as the new mode of transportation.

Today, one will still find that the vast majority of Fiaker teams are family businesses, passed from father to son (or daughter!) through the decades and given the time-period of which they were born, most of the carriages are over 100 years old.  This makes a ride in a Fiaker quite special: it is not merely a service, as one might expect in a journey by taxi, but a direct means of contact with people who made the city what it is through their interaction with the public and their participation in forming the city landscape.  Many of these cab-drivers are characters, which is evidenced by their wild storytelling and love for embellishment of the truth!  They are also a font of knowledge of the city itself, knowing every nook and cranny like the back of their hand… and we can be certain that their horses are in the same boat!  There are a number of regulations in place today which means the horses and divers are secured certain allowances: where they can park to pick up fares; the number of hours the animals may work in any one week; the weather conditions they may operate under; even the traditional costume of the cab-driver is now a protected requirement in order to secure a Fiaker licence in Wien.  The sight of the jauntily dressed driver with his polished carriage and the gleaming coats of his horses is a welcome sight whatever the season, enlivening the classical streets of the city and reminding us of slower times, where life was not so hectic and horses were man’s best friend and a very essential part of daily life.  If you haven’t the time to actually enjoy a jaunt in a little piece of history, at least take a moment or two the next time you see a team drive past, to admire the care and attention, the history and tradition which is neatly wrapped up on four wheels and sixteen hooves!

WWMD (What Would Mozart Do)?

Have you seen this man?

Do you know who he is and what his lifestyle preferences are?

No, well not to worry, for the city of Wien will illuminate your ignorance and set you right in the error or your ways.  For though he was born in Salzburg, Wien has claimed him as one of their own and his image is to be found plastered on everything from mugs and maps, clothing and chocolate, to posters and pillboxes. He is inescapable and ever-present, watching his adopted city go by, some 261 years after his birth.   During your vacation in Wien, you can stroll down Mozartgasse or saunter across Mozartplatz; you can drink a Mozartkaffee at Mozart Café or enjoy a Mozarteis.  You can listen to Mozart’s music whilst attending any one of the numerous performances of his works by the Mozartorchester and if you are really lucky, you can see Mozart himself – or at least one of his fifty Doppelgängers – resplendent in glitzy, gaudy finery to be found on any given day within a 50m radius of Stephansdom.  The big famous numbers of his vast repertoire are trotted out with predictable and repetitious regularity for advertisements on television and radio. And then of course there is the opportunity on every street corner, in every supermarket to indulge in a sweet treat with the obiquitious Mozartkugel.  Even Mozartkugeln have their own Doppelgängers, with about ten different manufacturers all vying for a piece of the Mozart action.  As the old saying goes “familiarity breeds contempt” and through all this, it seems to me a terrible pity that it is too easy to become indifferent to his prodigious contribution to the world of music and the classical arts.

And he certainly was a prodigy.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756; lived in Wien from 1781 to 1788; died in 1791, aged only 35 and in the span of his short life composed over 600 pieces of music, most of them vast multi-instrumental works for orchestra.  Born into a musical family, under the instruction of his father Mozart began playing the piano aged three and began composing aged five.  From the very outset he displayed an incredible ability to remember, replicate and expound upon incredibly complex melodies, which he would only have to hear once before being able to play perfectly and it was this gift which helped him rapidly develop his own style.  At six years of age, he was already on tour with his family around Europe, entertaining royal courts and learning from composers such as Bach and Hyden.  He wrote his first three symphonies aged 8 years of age and by the grand old age of 17 he was installed as the official court musician in Salzburg.  However his good fortunes did not last long and after a dispute with the Kappelmeister in Salzburg, he resigned his post, moving to Wien in 1781.  This move heralded the beginning of Mozart’s financial troubles, which ultimately contributed to his untimely death in 1791.  In Wien, Mozart achieved significant fame through his fantastical compositions but yet this admiration was not enough for him to gain secure employment.  Writing private commissions helped keep Mozart afloat, but these were not enough to sustain the composer and his family, who was by this time now married to Constance Weber, with whom he had six children (though only two survived infancy).  These difficulties were not helped by the political climate at the time, now by the large amount of personal debts which the family had managed to accrue.  Near the end of his life, it can be said that this situation was beginning to turn around as Mozart experienced a very fruitful creative period and he was composing right up until his death, with the last work he wrote being his beautiful and famous Requiem: composed for an unknown patron, upon which many speculate that Mozart actually composed it for his own impending death.

Mozart’s legacy is a vast collection of musical treasures: concertos, symphonies, operas, choral music and any number of trifling compositions, just for fun.  His music has the uncanny ability to look and sound very simple, whilst actually being very demanding to play.

Girardigasse, Giardia and Germ-Theory

Anytime I find myself in the vicinity of Mariahilfestrasse/Naschmarkt whereby I must traverse Girardigasse, it never fails to bring a smile to my face when I am reminded of the similarity between the spelling of the street-name and Giardia lamblia, a parasite which causes intestinal infections, the most common gastrointestinal disease-causing parasitic agent globally.  As a microbiologist by training, I am very familiar with Giradia and its lifecycle, the effects which range from acute inconvenience to chronic infection, and for which the successful treatment requires scrupulous standards of hygiene.  In this vein, I am led to recall the life-story of one Dr. Ignatz Semmelweis, his involvement in germ-theory and the beginnings of standardised hygiene and sanitation practices in European hospitals.

Dr. Semmelweis (1818-1865), a Hungarian by birth, studied medicine in the University of Vienna in the 1830s where he specialised in obstetrics.  In 1846, not long after graduating as a doctor, he found himself based in the Vienna General Hospital, where he was placed in charge of two obstetrical clinics: the First Clinic and Second Clinic.  It was in his role there that he encountered a medical mystery which baffled him and which he dedicated his life to solving.  Though these two clinics were operating under almost the exact same standards in the same hospital, the former had a mortality rate of approximately three times that of the second.  One of the most-feared causes of death was the so-called ‘childbirth fever’ (puerperal fever), which was commonly contracted by women who had just given birth and for which nothing could be done.  So great was this fear, that often women in Vienna would often rather give birth on the streets than to enter the feared First Clinic.

It should be kept in mind that at this point in history, medicine was very far removed from what we understand it to be today and the knowledge of doctors regarding the causes of diseases was extremely limited. The fact that large numbers of patients were dying under his care greatly distressed Dr. Semmelweis and he began to systematically rearrange practices in the units, eliminating factors in an attempt to discover what was the root cause of the fatalities. Some light was eventually shed on the mystey when a colleague of Dr. Semmelweis’s died after being cut with the scapel used in an autopsy of a patient who herself had died from puerperal fever.  Examining the evidence of the autopsy proved that the fatal agents were the same in both cases.  During this time, the Second Clinic was staffed only by midwives, whilst doctors were the only ones working in the First Clinic. Taking into account the fact that doctors were also the only ones carrying out autopsies, Dr. Semmelweis therefore concluded that the fatal agents were being transferred through the doctors from the corpses to the living.  He named these discoveries ‘cadaverous particles’ and immediately instigated a new hand-washing scheme, requiring that all staff must wash their hands in a chlorine solution before attending to new patients.  The new scheme was an instant success and the mortality rates in both clinics fell dramatically.

Sadly, however his theories were rejected entirely by his fellow doctors in the medical profession who resented the insinuation that they themselves were somehow involved in the transmission of disease.  After losing his job as a result of being discredited, Dr. Semmelweis sank into depression and was committed to a mental asylum.  Tragically, just 14 days after his admittance, he died as a result of being beaten by the wardens in the institution.  He was only 47.  A mere nineteen years later, Robert Koch formulated his famed ‘Koch’s Postulates’ theory and the acceptance of germ-theory and disease transmission became standard, along with basic notions of hygiene and sanitary practices in all hospitals.  Today, good hygiene and standardised sanitary practices are something which are practiced not only in hospitals, but in every sphere of life.  Even advanced clean-room technologies are founded upon these basic findings of germ-theory of which Dr. Semmelweis was a cornersone.  So the next time you wash your hands before a meal, enjoy the privilege of clean water or attend to your sick sibling, think on Dr. Semmelweis and give thanks for his life’s work which has helped us lead longer and healthier lives.

A Short History of Ice-Cream in Vienna

A Short History of Ice-Cream in Vienna

It may be a bold statement which will undoubtedly raise a few objections, but it seems to me that ice-cream is one of those rare confections which appeals to almost everyone, of every age and every flavour-preference.

Anyone who has even a hint of a sweet-toothand a desire to raise their blood-sugar levels post-supper will rarely reject the offer of this frozen treat.  Unlike its more serious, sophisticated or flashy ‘Nachspeise Verwanten’, ice-cream holds its own amongst the dessert line-up through the simplicity of preparation, ease of portability and nostalgia-factor – reliving the simple pleasure of enjoying the earliest treat of childhood.  Ice-cream also has the advantage of lending itself to a little adventure, especially if one has the opportunity to go to an ice-cream parlour to seek out your creamy concoction. A leisurely stroll with an ice-cream, accompanied by family or friends is just the ticket of an evening.


It is believed that this simple frozen treat was already enjoyed by the Ancient Romans, but it wasn’t until the 17th century that its popularity took off in the form as we now know it.  In Austria, the first proper ice-cream parlours arrived at the beginning of the 1800s and Empress Elizabeth was famed for her love of violet-flavoured ice-cream.  The tradition continues on and today in Vienna, there are a number of big players on the ice-cream scene, most famous amongst them being Eis-Greißler, Tichy, Zanoni & Zanoni and Eissalon Tuchlauben, as well as numerous smaller though equally delightful premises.  In any one of these locations once can find a wide myriad of flavour combinations, from the classic Vanille to the more inventive Kürbiskernöl and Ziegenkäse.  The flavour-profile and quality of ingredients are of great importance to the purveyors of these frozen treats and every Eissalon prides itself on using only the best.  A few days ago whilst visiting a friend in her home, I was invited to try a Tichy speciality: “Eismarillenknödel”.  As the name suggests, this creation fuses the beloved Austrian Knödel tradition with the Italian influence – ice-cream – and is a most delicious way to end a meal.  Personally, Marillen is for me the taste of Austria, given that it is to found across the land in every shape and form and so I enjoyed this novel Knödel format (although it may be a tad on the overly-sweet side).

Another common feature of all ice-cream parlours in Wien is their attentiveness to the decoration and presentation of their offerings.  Casting a quick glace across the tables of any Eisladen in the city, one sees a wide variety of fruit, chocolate, cream and ice-cream combined together in elegant serveware, displaying creative artistry.  Allowing for the fact that ice-cream by its nature is a medium which is less-than-easy to work with (Problem No. 1: propensity to melting!), I find it rather impressive that such lofty creations are conjured up for the various ‘cups’ and hold their shape before being served to the eagerly-waiting customers.  A tall-order for the humble Eis on a hot summers day!  Though summer has drawn to a close and autumn is well underway, to enjoy an ice-cream on a Sunday evening is still a lovely way to end the week.  Before the weather turns sharper in the coming weeks, gather your family together and go for it!

                                                                                                                                                             Aoífe-Maria Beglin