Austria comes to New York: a look at the Openhouse Gallery’s Austrian pop-up shop

This month, the Openhouse Gallery in New York hosted a free Austrian pop-up shop, which gave visitors a glimpse into what they could experience in terms of art, food, tours, culture, hotels, festivals, museums, and outdoor spaces if they visited Austria.

While the space itself was small, it had a lot to offer. The girls who worked the exhibit were extremely helpful and were happy to walk around with me to explain exactly what everything was I was looking at.

When first walking in, I was immediately struck by a giant painting by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt called “The Kiss”. In 2012, Vienna will celebrate his 150th birthday with an array of event and exhibits in his honor.

If visitors needed help planning a trip to visit Austria, the pop-up shop featured a travel lounge, as well, with comfortable white, leather couches and a table of tour packets, culinary books, travel advice, and even an Austrian memory and matching game called Craz.The most interactive part of the exhibit, and by far my favorite, was the sampling station. Authentic Austrian goodies to try included:

  • Pumpkin seed oil and pieces of bread for dipping
  • Viennese cookies from the Vienna Cookie Company
  • Gðlles specialty vinegar
  • Rupp Alina cheeses
  • Zotter hand made organic chocolate

The next section of the pop-up shop expanded on the idea of art, design, and theater in Austria. Visitors were able to take a look at some Austrian craftsmanship from Wien Products, such as vases and other housewares. Pieces of outdoor furniture that are used to help create the lively atmosphere in the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna, one of the largest museums quarters in the world, were also on display.

Visitors could also learn about the theater culture of Austria, with the “Sound of Music” installation. The show, which is set in Austria, will debut at the Salzburger Landestheatre this Fall from October 23, 2011 to June 30, 2012. As you continue walking, you will also be able to explore a small gallery of historical Austrian paintings by Austrian artists.

At the end of the visit to the Openhouse Gallery’s Austrian pop-up shop (or the beginning, if you wanted), visitors were invited to enjoy some traditional Viennese coffee and desert in their Cafe Sacher, which included:

  • Wiener Melange- an espresso coffee with foamed milk
  • Grosser Brauner- a double espresso coffee with cream
  • a slice of original Sachertorte mit schlag with whipped cream
  • a homemade piece of Viennese apple strudel

The waitresses were even dressed in a traditional dirndl-style costume.

Interested in booking a trip to Austria? Visit the Austrian Tourism Board website. Want to know more about pop-up installations at the Openhouse Gallery in New York? Check out Paul Gerben’s Pickers Cafe that will be going on into 2012.

Austria comes to New York: wine and food pairing at Wallse

I have a new favorite restaurant in New York, and it is called Wallse. Located one block from the Hudson Promenade at 344 W. 11th Street, this ambient venue puts a modern twist on classical Viennese dishes, all within a dimly lit space that could also be classified as an art gallery, with contemporary pieces from artists like Julian Schnabel and Albert Oehlen on display.

On Tuesday, I was invited to an Austria Gala Dinner held at this restaurant, which included mingling, learning about tourism in Austria, and, best of all, wine and food pairing. Upon arrival, guests were offered glasses of sparkling wine as well as hors d’oeurves like wienerschnitzel and tuna tartare. After networking and meeting people from Austria’s tourism industry, guests sat at arranged seats to begin a wine and food pairing.

The first course included a choice of local market greens with spicy radishes and pumpkinseed oil or spätzle with braised rabbit, wild mushrooms, and sweet corn. I chose the second option, which was paired with a sweet white wine called Neuberger-Tinhof 2008. From talking to the Austrians at my table, I learned that spätzle is basically a type of soft noodle. The meat was tender and mixed with the sweetness of the corn was a perfect combination. Not only was the starter course delicious, but the servers never allowed anyone’s wine glass to be empty for less than a second.For the second course, the choices were between a pan seared brook trout with roasted cauliflower, almonds and raisins or boiled Kavalierspitz with root vegetables and apple horseradish. Once again, I chose the second option, purely based on the fact that I had no idea what it was and love being surprised by ethnic foods. This dish was paired with a red wine that reminded me of Shiraz and was called Blaufraenkisch-Markowitsch 2009. I learned that Kavalierspitz basically means boiled beef, and mixed with the apple horseradish, which reminded me of apple sauce, was definitely an interesting flavor.

For the desert course, the options were between Salzburger Nockerl with huckleberries and sorbet or Schokoladentorte with salted caramel ice cream and whiskey sabayon. Despite the fact that everyone at my table ordered the Salzburger Nockerl, including all the Austrians who kept insisting that it was their favorite desert of all time, I ordered the Schokoladentorte, just to be different and also to see what it looked like. This course was paired with a desert wine that was much lighter than the desert wines I am used to sampling in Long Island, New York, yet still sweet, called Auslese-Kracher 2009. When the deserts came out, I instantly regretted not getting the Salzburger Nockerl. Not only was it much bigger than my desert, it looked so interesting, especially the texture. Made with egg whites, eggs, sugar, flour, and custard sauce (which is what I was told by my dinner companions), the desert looked like crispy yet soft mounds of sweetness. Luckily, the man next to me let me try his, or I probably would have cried, because it was incredible. Not too sweet, but very satisfying.

If you’re interested in learning more about Wallse and Viennese fare, click here. Want to plan a visit to Austria for yourself? Click here.