Low Carb in Vienna could be the slogan of our winter trip in the last week of Advent. Since we live relatively near Vienna during the winter (50-minute flight), we thought this would be an ideal trip. Not only because we are exploring the history of European gastronomy, but because Vienna is the Christmas capital of Europe. Now, many would think that the city where the croissant was invented cant be the Low Carb or Keto destination. However, we have some great news for you! Vienna and its traditional Viennese cuisine is more Low Carb friendly than you might think. If you dive deeper into the Imperial cuisine history, Austria’s royal cookbook could be the lowest in carbs when compared to other European countries. So, allow us to take you on a spin, like a waltz through our Viennese experience!
Choosing a hotel in Vienna
You can’t go wrong with any type of hotel or number of stars. But you can go wrong with the location. Vienna is a city where you need to walk. Simply because the architecture is so breathtaking. Furthermore, streets are safe, clean and always decently decorated. Not to mention those sausage booths. And hey, you can order sausages without bread! If you think that in the centre there are only super-expensive hotels, you might be wrong. You could be staying in the heart of historical Vienna and paying less than €100 a night. If your budget is lower, there are numerous AirBnBs and hostels also located in the centre. However, if you can afford it, please consider one of the hotels near the Opera house. This is exactly what we did. Our Grand Hotel Wien which is 152 years old was the best choice we could make. Not only for the Low Carb in Vienna but also for the time-travelling experience.
Low Carb in Vienna – Grand Hotel Wien experience
When we arrived it was late afternoon. Impressed with the beautiful 19th-century-inspired lobby, we were excited about our half-board dinner. During our Naples days in the Excelsior, we were offered to choose options a-la-cart. On the other side, In Grand Hotel Wien they would prepare a special menu for each evening. We could ask for adaptation to our dietary preferences or allergies. For us, it was a quest to reduce the carbs! And to our surprise, the hotel’s 1870 – Restaurant had dishes that were already 100% Keto. Take a steak with grilled vegetables (without potatoes) or the fish filet served on butter-sauteed yellow-flowered gourd. All with a foamy egg and avocado mousse. Sounds quite Keto to me!
Now, if you explore the world of fine dining restaurants and chefs, you’ll know that they take pride in making the so-called reduction sauce. This is a type of silky sauce made by slowly reducing the liquids after sauteing or cooking meat. Adding flour to such sauces is almost an insult. A good chef knows how to thicken the sauce without adding starch! This is for beginners, they say. 😉 How awesome for us!
Our chef never used flour or starch to thicken the sauces! I decided to write a special blog post in a couple of days devoted to mister Jürgen Lengauer, executive head chef at the Grand Hotel Wien to whom I send an old-fashioned, handwritten thank you note.
Thank you for the music
Vienna is the world capital of music! More famous composers lived in this city than in any other place. Music in Vienna is in the air! And even though it sounds pathetic, It really is so! Any waltz or operetta is at home here, even musicals made in Vienna have conquered international audiences. Great and famous voices, important interpreters, spectacular production. There are three Viennese opera houses and operetta stages: Vienna State Opera, Vienna National Opera
and Vienna Chamber Opera. Then there are Vienna’s musical theatres: Theater an der Wien, Raimund Theater, Ronacher and the National Opera. These places offer their visitors tense and interesting evenings with extraordinary performances.
We visited the house of music and enjoyed a Mozart and Strauss medley concert with a dash of opera singing by a wonderful Tenor and soprano. We even got to see a dash of ballet by a beautiful ballerina. The concert was performed by a sextet of talented musicians. We especially were impressed by the virtuosity of their pianist! Not only because of the superb acoustics in the concert halls but also the demanding audience. We also enjoyed street opera singing which at -6 Celsius was more than impressive!
The experience at the Mozart’s museum (actually his apartment) is something that you cannot miss. The narrated guide that you place like an old-fashioned telephone on your ear feels like watching a real documentary. This audio guide is included with the ticket and you will feel the Mozart spirit in the apartment. Especially when you arrive at his bedroom and look up at the ceiling. Will not spoil it for you, go and feel it yourself!
The more museums you see, the more you live
No, you cannot see all the museums in Vienna unless you spend at least a month there. It’s up to your preferences, but we recommend the Military history museum in the first place. no, don’t think you will be seeing just guns, tanks, cannons and aeroplanes. There’s so much art, costumes, and actual historical events recreated! The building itself is an outstanding neo-gothic masterpiece. You will learn so much about European history from medieval times up to recent history.
Our second favourite is the Museum of natural history. Of course, we love anything that has to do with the geological and biological history of our planet. But if you want to see a piece of the actual moon, or enjoy one of the best planetarium experiences in Europe, this breathtaking building will make you want to sleep there! We found all we needed to learn about ancient cereals Emmer and eincorn and this just confirmed everyting we wrote in an article about it.
And then, there’s the famous Albertina museum! This is one of the important museums if you love history of art! Yes, they have Picasso and Monet there, but I was more excited about Dürer and Hieronimus Boch in the Art History Museum. You get to see why Ancient Greek culture and the myth of Apollo and his muses were the leitmotiff for all artists throughout the time. A part of the experience is a walk through original rooms and ballrooms of the high-possitioned Austrian elites. What especially impressed me were the contemporary Austrian artists and their neo-realism! Just outstanding!
Learning about imperial cuisine and how Vienna was a Low Carb heaven
Visiting the famous Sissi museum and the royal palace (Their Winter residence) was a huge revelation for us. We already knew that Empress Sissi was a fitness-obsessed lady. However, once you see her dressing room, her gym, and even her bath, you get a totally different image. Not only that the palace itself is breathtaking, but you can learn so much about her lifestyle. When I saw the royal chef’s equipment, I realised how easy it was for him.
Yes, I might be showing too much enthusiasm when it comes to old-fashioned cooking, but that man had it all. Whatever mould comes to mind was created for him out of copper. The porcelain dishes were works of art, so you had to give your best that the food was too! I can see myself working in that kitchen as his assistant. Well, maybe the empress would even allow a female apprentice to create a meal for her. After all, she was always ahead of time, in all her views – including political ones. From her eccentric father, Duke Maximilian Joseph, she inherited a belief in progressive democratic ideals and pacifism, uncommon for royalty at the time.
Empress Sissi and fear of obesity
I realised that it was an obsession for her. Standing there in front of her dresses that are surrealistically small in the waist… I thought, she lived in the world of exaggeration. All royalties around her had it all and ate whatever they wanted. Most of them had more fat around the waist than she ever allow herself to have. She was reading and performing experiments. Fasting was a regular thing for her. As it was written in her dining room, for breakfast, she had eggs, cold cuts and raw milk. After that, she would fast for the rest of the day. This is why some historians claim she was anorexic. However, when I saw her death mask, I did not find that face anorexic. On the contrary! She was assassinated at the age of 60, and as you can see from her death mask, she had a nice and healthy-looking face. She did, however, suffer from depression, but this is something that all people who are born in the wrong century face! Mozart did too!
How about Vienna Low Carb street food
Vienna could be the most intensive cultural melting pot in Europe. With the arrival of so many people from the east, you can find all sorts of street foods for quite an affordable price. Some of these foods could be not only low-carb or Keto. We found many carnivore-friendly options. Beef and veal sausages are more often than the standard pork sausages these days. And if grilled without added vegetable oil, you could call them healthy fast food. Then you have those traditional restaurants that offer 4-5 dishes. One of them is a large pot of veal broth that looks like bone broth. You get a lot of boiled meat, celery, parsley root, carrot and some peas. A portion that is meant for a single person actually could feed 3.
Another thing I have to mention is the gourmet Spar supermarket. Now, I maybe don’t like supermarkets but this one is a Low Carb paradise. On one of our days, (when both our legs were full of museum blisters) we decided to have a picnic in the room. I went to the Gourmet Spar and to my surprise, there were so many healthy and affordable options. I bought us lavender goat cheese, gousse paté, Italian prosciutto, smoked mackerel, macadamia nuts and some fresh forest fruit. It all was more than tasty. I had to have some fresh Alpine sheep and goat milk because the Austrian farmers are the best when it comes to Alpine A2 dairy!
Should you try out the Vienna Low Carb adventure?
Oh, you most definitely should! It’s actually easier to do Low Carb vacation in Vienna than it is in many other places we travelled to. And when it comes to the famous Sacher torte, you must wonder if we cheated and tried it. Well, we did share a single piece. What can we tell you, It’s dangerously seductive, but it’s not better than our Low Carb Sacher torte version. It actually tastes just right, equally good and refreshing. You could give it a go and find out for yourself! After all, we are almost at the very end of this quite an interesting year!