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Learning to Love Austrian Food

From Wolfgang Puck to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrians have made it big in America. But Austrian food and wine—not so much. Two young Manhattan chefs are working to change that.

Arnold Schwarzenegger credits his strength to pumpkin seed oil," says Austrian-born, New York–based chef Eduard Frauneder (left). "In Austria, you can buy it at the petrol station." In the US, the dark, nutty oil certainly isn't sold at Shell or Exxon, or even most supermarkets. Yet a handful of new restaurants are working to get Americans excited about Austrian cuisine. In Manhattan, Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban own the elegant Seäsonal, which has earned a Michelin star, and they recently launched a second restaurant, Edi & the Wolf, a casual wine bar that highlights obscure central European grapes like Neuburger and Blaufränkisch in a rustic-chic room filled with reclaimed wood sourced from a barn.

Austrian Food: Braised Veal Shoulder
© Michael Turek.
Like Seäsonal, Edi & The Wolf explores the lighter side of Austrian food, marked by frequent use of dill and caraway, savory-sweet flavors and lashings of pumpkin seed oil. Although the chefs do make Austria's famous schnitzel, much of the menu is vegetarian. "Austrians actually have this very granola way of eating," says Frauneder. "There's a lot of muesli and whole grains." Dishes like panko-crusted asparagus with watercress salad and spring vegetable stew with pickled onions aren't stereotypically Austrian. Then again, neither is Schwarzenegger.

Austrian Food: U.S. Spots

Seäsonal and Edi & the Wolf, New York City

Seäsonal is Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban's Michelin-starred place; Edi & The Wolf is their new wine bar.

Café Kristall, New York City

Kurt Gutenbrunner serves Viennese dishes at his new venture, a sleek café in a Swarovski boutique.

Grüner; Portland, OR

Chef Christopher Israel makes Alps-inspired food (buckwheat spaetzle with rabbit, liverwurst canapés) using top local ingredients in a cool, minimalist space. grunerpdx.com.

Grünauer; Kansas City, MO

This Midwestern spot from a Vienna restaurant family updates Austrian classics, such as the pot roast–like tafelspitz.grunauerkc.com.

Leopold's, San Francisco

A beer hall that draws from the owners' Austrian-Italian heritage. Look for schnitzel, strudel and pappardelle.

Austrian Designers

A new wave of Austrian designers are carrying on the tradition of predecessors like Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte.

Design group Polka
Courtesy of Lobmeyr

Modern Stein

The 19th-century Viennese glassmaking company Lobmeyr hired design group Polka to update a traditional beer glass. $137; kneenandco.com.

Design company Feinedinge
Courtesy of Feinedinge

Tea Totem

A stemlike handle is the visual hallmark of the new "Alice" tea collection by Viennese porcelain design company Feinedinge ("fine things"). $200; feinedinge.at.

Austrian company Riess
Courtesy of Dottings

Stylish Storage

Centuries-old Austrian company Riess and buzzy Vienna designers Dottings collaborated on enamel cookware in an array of colors. virages.fr.

Mano Design.
Courtesy of Mano Design

Stag Party

Witty Alpine references mark this porcelain antler plate by Mano Design. $75; florisity.com.

Austrian Grape Guide

Everyone knows Riesling, but what about Rotgipfler? Here, some overlooked Austrian varietals.

Austrian Food and Wine
© Michael Turek

Blaufränkisch

The light- to medium-bodied reds can have floral notes and a Pinot Noir– like silkiness. Producer to try: Moric.

Grüner Veltliner

Loved by sommeliers, these whites are prized for their great minerality and snappy flavors. Producer to try: Weingut Brüdelmayer.

Neuburger

These whites have zingy acidity but honeyed depth of flavor. Producer to try: Weingut Tinhof.

Rotgipfler

From the warm Thermenregion, these whites are rich, juicy and spicy. Producer to try: Weingut Stadlmann.

St-Laurent

Related to Pinot Noir, this grape can produce deeply fruity or restrained reds. Producer to try: Rosi Schuster.

Published May 2011
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