For reasons that are hard to track down, the Mozart Kugel – Austria’s famous Mozart Ball chocolate – is filled with pistachio marzipan. Theory: Mozart made several journeys to Italy as a young man and while there, he became fond of pistachios which were commonly used in Italian desserts.
The pistachio has been in trade since biblical times; it was a highly valued crop. So it’s also possible that pistachio is more random choice that relies on the nut’s identity as a luxury item – we’ll use pistachio because it’s fancy! Mozart is fancy! So, Mozart equals pistachio!
Maybe. Maybe not.
It’s not just about chocolates, it’s also about cake. There are two front runners in the Mozart-something cakes race, the Mozarttorte and …
“Lebkuchen” gets translated from German as “gingerbread,” but that’s not quite right. The word “gingerbread” sets expectations for it being the kind of stuff you’d build a house out of, though that variety does get used in edible architecture.
There are also those ubiquitous gingerbread hearts, decorated in icing sugar with your sweetheart’s name and a swooping script that says “Ich liebe dich” — I love you — or maybe just “Greetings from this twee Germanic town.”
The stuff used to deliver messages or act as culinary sheetrock is all fine and well. But more interesting is a cakey sort of cookie packed with honey and spices and baked on top of what’s essentially a communion wafer — in much earlier days, …
The Austrian town of Bad Ischl hit the spa scene in the early 19th century, but it became the Next Big Destination when Kaiser Franz Josef started using the location as his summer retreat. When Vienna’s weather became too oppressive in the summer time, the Kaiser and all his hangers on would pull up stakes for the cooler alpine climes of Austria’s Salzkammergut. The Kaiser’s entourage included his companion, the actress Katharina Schratt.
It’s said there was a secret path between the Kaiser’s summer place and Villa Schratt, the country home the Kaiser purchased for his lady friend. It can’t have been so secret if morning Kaiser sightings made the phrase, “Oh, the Kaiser’s had his guglhupf!” part of the vernacular. …
After arriving at the airport, would you be willing to drop your travel plans to head somewhere else? Heineken is daring travelers at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to do just that.
At the push of a button, travelers could be whisked away to Bali instead of Branson. Sure, it’s just an advertising ploy to promote Heineken Dropped, a YouTube series that has the beer company sending travelers to random destinations, but it got us thinking about the pros and cons of spontaneous travel. It’d be fun to discover somewhere unexpected — like the man above, who is being sent to the island of Cyprus instead of going on a six-week vacation with his grandparents to Vienna, Austria — but what if you packed completely wrong for the trip?
If you want to read more stories about spontaneous travel, AFAR magazine’s Spin the Globe feature sends writers to randomly chosen destinations. Here’s some recent features from Gadling contributors Don George and David Farley.
The meadows are green, the tulips are in full flower and it’s a lovely time of year to explore central Europe. While I’ve got the shutter for the Gadling Travel Instagram feed, you’ll see pictures of the Rhine, probably more than a few cows, several plates of pastries (the Austrians are famous for that) and no shortage of gorgeous landscape. You’ll see a lot of small town stuff – I’ll be spending most of my time admiring what’s left of the snow covering the tops of the surrounding alpine peaks, but if time permits, you might see a little Graz and Vienna as well. Austria was my former temporary home during my expat days and while there’s plenty to see, there’s also family to visit.
Springtime along the rivers of Europe. The Rhine, the Moselle, the Enns, the Danube … let’s hope the weather holds and these palace skies stay full of sunshine.