Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Vienna Part 4: Sunday Art Galleries

After an late breakfast (erm call it brunch), M and I found we had a little time to occupy before meeting up with G & Mr.T for further explorations of Vienna. By looking at my tourist map I saw that one of the art galleries on my wish list was sort of round the corner. This was the Secession Hall.

Secession Hall, Vienna

This hall had a number of contemporary exhibits in it including a red and white one which I didn't have the stomach to look at too closely - it had a certain amount of fur coats and fake blood. What I really went to look at (as well as the external architecture) was the Beethoven Frieze by Klimt. Apparently there was a reproduction of this in the Tate Liverpool but I got to see the original work. I don't know how it was displayed in Liverpool but here it is shown high up on the walls of a rectangular basement room with a blank space for where there would have been an archway showing a sculpture of Beethoven. Whilst the surroundings could be considered a little stark this in no way detracted from the frieze itself which included plenty of the gold leaf Klimt was known for, this frieze was produced in 1902 at the beginning of his gold phase.

After this we wandered back to our hotel and met up with G who had gone on a long ramble round the city and Mr.T who had a major lie-in. Whilst M and Mr.T decided to go off and play in the Volksprater, G and I departed on a tram for a more cultural afternoon - more art!
Upper Belvederee

The Belverdere Palace was top of our list as I had expressed a preference for managing to see as much Klimt in Vienna as possible and this is after all, the gallery which has the largest collection in the world of Gustav Klimt's paintings.. Whilst I was worried that a lot of paintings may have been carted off due a "little art show" in Liverpool, I was not to be denied. There was plenty to see the only notable omission (due to its travels to the Tate Liverpool) was "Adam und Eve" which was my only disappointment.

The one work which C would have liked to have seen in Liverpool was also on display in the Upper Belverdere. The Kiss - said to be Gustav Klimt's most famous work was on display behind its (no doubt) alarmed glass. Unlike some of the famous art galleries in Paris, Florence and London it wasn't too busy and there was clear and easy access to look at this work close up alongside a number of his other works.

I was particularly taken with a smaller work in the same room "Judith I" which was smaller than I imagined but I loved the way the paint was applied for the choker the subject is wearing. I was reminded of this when we made our next visit to another gallery closer to the city centre. Our next visit was picked out by G and she couldn't have picked a better place - Vienna's answer to the V&A! - MAK. What made it even better was that the lady at the ticket desk was more interested in chatting on the phone than making us pay for entry. Amongst the many delights to see was the gorgeous and little known of Waerndorfer Frieze by Margaret Macdonald (wife of Rennie Mackintosh. This was a beautiful gesso frieze with wonderful texture in the Glasgow style and had embedded mother of pearl embellishments. It was hanging alongside 3 panels by Klimt the Stoclet Freize (panels 1, 2 & 3). The museum was thoughtfully organised and designed : the galleries of the permanent collections had been designed and arranged by contemporary artists. Parts of the study collection were also on display and of course I had to spend a lot of time looking at the textiles. The current arrangement was organised by the textile curator - picking some her favourite pieces as well those pieces which gave a representation of the variety of the collection there was an Opus Anglicanum chausable and it was quite interesting comparing it to a later European chuasable nearby - I can quite see why it had its reputation for being the finest of its time and for centuries after. My favourite piece though was a pink pleated Fortuny dress and accompanying evening jacket, which was in velvet - the edges of which were embossed and beaded.

A nice extra that was one of the current their exhibitions was a solo show by the Britart artist Julian Opie. Well known for the album cover for the pop band Blur, for which he transformed potraits of the band members into his distinctive style of reducing photographs into figurative reproductions. I found a while ago a mini tutorial on how to do this yourself in Photoshop and was inspired to have a go on photos of M & me.

Mark given the "Julian OpieMe given the "Julian Opie


Not bad, but I think the one of M is better (due to better lighting and not watching the TV at the same time). I don't think Mr.Opie is losing any sleep.

We then returned to the hotel where we found our boys after an afternoon kitsching it up at the funfair. We decided on a quiet (and much earlier night) so ate locally at the previously mentioned "brew house" (where, coincidently, the original photo for M's potrait was taken - I cut out the kr├╝gel of beer).

Monday, September 08, 2008

Vienna: Food

No trip would be complete without a little reflection on food. A subject always close to my heart. Whilst G & Mr.T's memories of Austrian food was affected by their recent holiday in June (tinned spuds anyone?) most of the food we had in Vienna was excellent. The wedding breakfast was particularly fine and I made sure I had a taste of most things. The dishes that I tried in Vienna that stuck most in my mind were the following dishes.

On our first evening we had a basket of bread and a plate of olives, capers, oil and some cheese dip. A similar cheese dip or spread was also available on the breakfast buffet it was a light orange and had something like capers or olives chopped into it. On returning home my first search for an Austrian cheese spread found Schmierkaese, but I don't think it was this. It is more likely it was the Hungarian dish Liptauer. I found various recipes for this but in the end found quite a good one in of all places: a Nigella book (Nigella Bites). I decided to have a go and came up with my own version which although not quite the same as in Vienna, I quite like it and people seemed to like when I brought it along to the first, last and only beach barbecue held in the last weekend of August. Apparently it is good spread on the kind of dark charcoaly cheese biscuits that I suspect you can only get in swanky London delis or possibly Waitrose - though I found there was nothing wrong with a Scottish oatcake, Ryvita, breadstick or toast. For the curd cheese the recipe asked for, I used Quark and the modifications included a little Spanish sweet smoked paprika as well as Hungarian. A teaspoon or so of tomato puree made it in there as well (primarily as a colouring). Bircher Muesli was available at breakfast as well which I quite liked - I had never tried this before, not being a morning person the idea of grating apple into presoaked oats first thing in the morning seems to be a little too dangerous a task for me (fire no problem, graters - bad idea). It was creamy and delicious and worth trying especially if I could find a truly leakproof container for taking it to work with me. (I know Bircher muesli isn't necessarily Austrian butSwitzerland is just next door)

On our last night out we were wanting somewhere a little Austrian and close to the hotel. We found a "brew house" with its own micro-brewery and serving some traditional food. Whilst the boys had liver dumpling soup (erm not for me thanks) I went for the Alt Wiener Knoblauchsuppe - which translated as "Viennese Garlic Soup". It was lovely, good and garlicy (though noone complained the next day), it came with croutons and a generous topping of whipped cream - not for those watching their calorie intake (I had given up caring). I had a little look for a recipe to try in the future and found one over at Tea & Cookies on reading her entry it sounds like she used to live in the same area where we had this soup. If I try this I will let you know the outcome.

There were puddings aplenty at S & X's wedding and one I quite liked was a traditional one, it was described to us as curd pudding and plum sauce. Austrian M, who was on our table, said it was like a chopped pancake or omelette. G, who has an interesting relationship with eggs gave it a wide berth, but I found it rather nice. I have since found that the proper name is Kaiserschmarren. I have a postcard with a recipe which I may try out, but as it has been translated into English the weights are rather odd imperial/US measures which are in funny fractions (I think it is a quite literal conversion from metric to US). At the very least plum sauce has to be tried again (even if just went over vanilla ice cream).

No trip to Vienna would be complete without some Sachertorte. Most of the people I have come across find that they are disappointed with it - I think they are expecting a luxurious and indulgent fudgy chocolate cake or something akin to an Austrian version of Black Forest Gateau. What you really get is a light-ish chocolate sponge with apricot jam and chocolate icing with whipped cream on the side (not pouring cream - according to Austrian M, to an Austrian, the idea of pouring cream over pudding is just plain weird). The slice I had in the cafe next to the Butterfly House was okay (even without the cream which was missing) but I couldn't help remembering and preferring the mini-Sachertorte I had in June, in London. Before you can gasp in horror at my blasphemy, I would point out that this was sampled at the Taste Festival where the Viennese Tourist Board had a stand with the Cafe Demel (one of Vienna's most famous cafes). There are two kinds of Sachertorte to be had and I prefer the Demel Sachertorte which has the apricot jam on the outside of the cake (instead of sandwiched between) with the chocolate glazing over the top. The one I had in London was also scrummy because it was still warm (not technically authentic but there was quite a lot of demand to be met) it was also ALL MINE. Also, the ratio of chocolate icing and apricot jam was slightly higher as it was a small individual sachertorte as opposed to a slice from a full size one. Anyway I think I'll direct you at this point to Nigel Slater's opinion in The Observer on the Sachertorte as he makes a much better case (being a pro. food writer and all), I think the the recipe he provides is worth a try as well.

To finish I must give an honourable mention to the soft drink Almduddler. As a fizzy pop its okay, quite refreshing in fact. What I liked most about it though was the cute bottle it came in. (yes I am a sucker for cute packaging - thats why I married M)


What? No Wiener Schnitzel? Sadly, no.

Wet SDW Adventures curtailed

Unfortunately Friday was to be the only day of cycling. Whilst M continued on for a second day of mud, rain and stupidly steep slopes, 3 of us had to bring our cycling odyssey to an end. G and Mr.T were ill during the night and I wasn't feeling too bright either. Luckily there was a good bus service to the nearest town where we were able to get a train to Southampton and then on to Eastleigh and then home. It wasn't all bad news, though I had a nice chat to a lady on the train who was returning home to the New Forest after taking her Grandson back to Brighton. I then got a head start on the washing, repacked clothing and other bits and went back to Cocking to pick up my bicycle and rejoin my freshly showered hubby just outside Brighton at the nights B&B. I then planned my next day : Lewes, Charleston Farm, Eastbourne Art Gallery, pick up M. The next morning M was feeling rough so those plans were canned. I drove him home and we spent the day pootling, drinking hot drinks, eating toast and watching films on the TV. Another bright spot was that I managed to catch up on my crafty reading. It was pure luxury to be finally able to read the latest edition of Cloth Paper Scissors. This has left me itching to try things out in a sketch book - this has been at least 2 months coming............

Today has been spent doing further pootling, reading my new book on Sergers/overlockers (a purchase is being plotted) and touring the 12 charity shops (at least) that Eastleigh is "blessed" with for pure wool sweaters to felt.

Friday, September 05, 2008

What I was cycling for


What I was cycling for

We did see sunshine today but we were still wet. Now in pub: warm dry & clean. The beer is being quaffed & the chips have been ordered.

Wet


Wet

But look at the view!

On hindsight I don't think cycling 35+ miles when there is a severe weather warning is big or clever. Whilst I am pleased I got through the day with the minimum of whining or moaning, I think I can come up with better ways of spending 6+ hours. Such as sewing or painting or looking at art or cooking nice things to eat. 2 hour cycling ride fine. 6 hours, well I get a bit bored of pedalling. On the other hand going down that hill - BIG grin on my face.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Vienna Part 3: Saturday Afternoon Wedding

The wedding was held in a very plush "Palais" in the inner city (i.e. the old bit). It was as you can imagine was very grand:

Under this ceiling we sighed as vows were made, wine sipped, food eaten, speeches and toasts made. Before boogying the night away. (M made the deal with me that gym in the morning could be missed if I spent 3+ hours dancing until 3am - good times). If you are looking at C's, G's, S's and my photos on Facebook, I am the one with the Lime green elbows.



(I think an apology is due to those people who had the misfortune of marking "Brad and Ange's" quiz answers - we had sipped rather a lot sparkling wine by the time it was time to hand our sheets in and we just didn't care anymore.)

I will now be interrupting the account of my adventures in Vienna to go off on another adventure - cycling the South Downs Way. I expect to get very wet. All be well, I should be back Monday, a little tired but hopefully in one piece.

Pre SDW weather check


Pre SDW weather check

It will probably be more than a little damp

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