Spittelberg Quarter, Vienna
Quite a beautiful scene here at Amerling Beisl. I’m sitting in a pleasant courtyard composed of medium grey colored cobblestone, the light is trickling in between the vines of grape leaves stamping fun patterns across the faces of customers and the stone beneath our feet.
The space was lovely, but I was beginning to have my doubts about the cuisine. My usual go-to is a meat dish because I need lots of protein, but after so many free samples of falafel at the Naschmarket only a half hour or so earlier (pretty much every middle eastern stand I passed had a fork hanging over the edge of the food case with a handsome smiling man on one end and a hummus-dipped round of falafel on the other–how could I resist?!) I was not as hungry as I anticipated I would be. All that is to say, I wanted something lighter than meat so that threw out the weiner schnitzel option and the other enticing dish, barley risotto, because I didn’t want a plate of just grains. That left me with the last dish that looked decent, but likely never would have ordered except under the current circumstances, a basic vegetarian dish of grilled vegetables and goat cheese. All I can say is, I am so grateful I did! It was no doubt the best dish I’ve ever settled for! Actually, it was better than some I have eagerly anticipated, but was then disappointed by.
Soon after ordered I was brought a white oval dish teeming with purples, yellows, red and greens–peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, oh, and mushrooms (which I kindly ignored) topped with three medallions of goat cheese in a brie-like rind. Each was perfectly cooked, I mean perfectly. Every thing was al dente at its finest. The eggplant was a prime example, not too spongey from being undercooked and not too slimy from being overcooked. With each bite the juices gushed from the vegetable and swirled with the rich oil soaking it and filling my mouth with pure bliss. The warmth mixed with the cool creaminess of the cheese were perfect opposites and therefore, a perfect pair.
That was a lesson in teaching me not to snub my nose at the seemingly mundane. Rather, it caused me to consider being continually open to new things especially those which are not obviously new. For, this dish was not entirely out of the ordinary or out of my comfort zone, really, it was just not something I “preferred”. I discovered exploring new horizons, even in small ways, may just bring extraordinary gifts.