Sometimes you just need to go on vacation. You don’t care where you’ll go, or what you’ll be doing, you just know you need to get away for a while. Brian and I were in this very position early in our relationship. After a year of dating, we were ready to start planning a getaway beyond the weekend roadtrip, or college friend’s wedding.
We had some loose ideas of places we’d always wanted to travel, but were a bit restricted by vacation time, so we could only travel over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
One Saturday, we were casually browsing a bookstore and stumbled upon Where To Go When (Lonely Planet). This is a fantastic book where you choose a month, and it tells you great places to travel in that time range. There are categories like “family,” “adventure,” and “cultural.”
When we flipped to the month of December, it recommended Vienna for their unabashed love of Christmas, winter wonderland atmosphere, and the kickoff of the ball season. We were sold. The next day we booked tickets, and began taking dance lessons.
Our trip included Christmas Markets, Punsch (mulled wine) from street vendors, castles, the Kaiser Ball, and, dare I say, a little bit of magic.
After our trip we hosted an Austrian themed dinner party, selecting favorite recipes from our travels, as well as a couple that sounded interesting. We hadn’t tried Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat, or Boiled Potato Salad, but it seemed a natural compliment to the rest of the meal highlighting Wienerschnitzel (breaded veal, not chili dogs), and as a bonus surprise to us, it was by far most people’s favorite. Even better? It was surprisingly easy to make, and the ingredients were cheap and readily available. In fact, many homes will have a majority of the ingredients in their cupboards.
This is definitely one of those recipes that you can imagine your grandmother making with whatever scraps she has laying around. Adding this and that, not measuring, tasting as she goes to get the right balance. I, for example, add more bacon, onion and pickles than called for. It kicks up the flavor without harming the integrity of the dish. But if for some reason you were out, you could omit or substitute many items as well. If you need to feed more people, it scales very easily with more potatoes. It can easily be altered to be vegetarian by substituting bacon with just a little oil, and chicken bouillon with vegetable bouillon.
The dish is perfect warm, a very hearty side for a winter meal, and also makes great cold or hot leftovers the next day.
Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat: Austrian Boiled Potato Salad
based on the recipe in Cooking the Austrian Way (Easy Menu Ethnic Cookbooks)
serves 4 to 6
- 3 large Potatoes, washed and peeled
- 3 slices Bacon, chopped (may also be substituted with 1 tbsp Oil for vegetarian option)
- 1/4 cup White Onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp Flour
- 2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes, dissolved in 1 1/4 cup hot water (use Vegetable Bouillon for vegetarian option)
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper
- 2 tbsp Sour Pickles, chopped
- 1 tbsp Spicy Brown Mustard
- 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- Pinch of Sugar
- 1 tbsp Parsley, chopped
- Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Drain potatoes in a colander and allow to cool.
- Wash and dry pan. In the same pan, sauté bacon and onion until onion is golden brown.
- Add flour and stir until lightly browned.
- Add bouillon, a little at a time, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to make a thick sauce.
- Add remaining ingredients, except parsley and potatoes, and turn heat to low.
- Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch slices and add to sauce.
- Cover pan and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Inspired by our fair city we hosted a San Francisco dinner menu that coupled some familiar comforts with a few surprises and unusual facts. For example, did you know the Bay Area is home to the martini? The Mai Tai? Folgers Coffee? Irish Coffee? Or Pisco Punch? How about the Popsicle? Or Crab Louis?
Our menu was inspired by many San Francisco Food Firsts, and we spent a lot of time researching just the right recipes to mirror the originals–as best as we know how, anyway.
Menu: I Left My Heart in San Francisco
Oysters Kirkpatrick (recipe)
We probably wouldn’t have thought to combine ketchup, clarified butter, crispy pancetta and Parmesan on top of a freshly shucked Blue Point Oyster, but apparently in 1900 Chef Ernest Arbogast of The Palace Hotel did in honor of the Hotel Manager, Colonel John C. Kirkpatrick. Sit back and slurp!
Dead Duck Bread
Everyone knows that Boudin’s San Francisco Sourdough is legendary, a staple since 1849 and a culinary feat that can only be created here owing to a combination of killer motherdough and a unique climate, so our meal wouldn’t be complete without an attempt. Why do we call it Dead Duck Bread? Ever see About a Boy? Ya…our first attempt wasn’t that great. Neither were the second, third or fourth attempts…can’t make dough rise to save our lives!
Green Goddess Salad (recipe)
Named after the play, and in honor of the actor George Arliss, The Palace Hotel came up with this dressing combining house made Mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, scallions, lemon juice, vinegar and anchovies and poured it on a simple bed of lettuce and tomatoes in 1915.
Tadich Grill Cioppino (recipe)
Also in 1900, Cioppino was invented at Alioto’s. Cioppino is what happens when Italian and Portuguese immigrants have infinite access to cheap seafood. A North Beach favorite, we’ve found a recipe for the Cioppino at Tadich Grill, California’s oldest restaurant and nearly oldest business, operating continuously since 1849.
“The San Francisco Treat.” After listening to an NPR episode back in 2008 describing how a Canadian woman married to an American working at a pasta factory and living with an Armenian immigrant in San Francisco in 1958 came up with the idea of a rice-based quick to make side dish for Americans, we have wanted to try our hand at it. We’ve taken the original recipe (not the boxed stuff), shared in the memoirs of Pailadzo Captanian, the Armenian lady who took the young couple in, rented them a room, and taught the wife to cook.
Celery Victor (recipe)
A simple but flavorful dish; in 1910 Chef Victor Hertler of the St. Francis boiled celery in a variety of chicken, veal and vegetable stocks, cooled and seasoned with herbs, vinegar and olive oil.
Ghirardelli Soft Center Cake (recipe)
In 1849, Domingo Ghirardelli opened his first shop in Stockton, California to sell confections and supplies to miners, but it wasn’t until 1865, and 5 stores later, that someone discovers the a new way to process chocolate, later renamed the “Broma process” in San Francisco where the current Ghirardelli Square still stands. No San Francisco meal would be complete without at least a splash of the world famous chocolate, and we took 60% chocolate bars, melted them with butter, folded them into some whipped eggs, and baked until just solid, but still melty in the middle.
Olive Oil Ice Cream (recipe)
While this dish isn’t world famous yet, San Francisco is famous for Slow, Organic, Natural, Raw, Local, and Whole foods. We took five amazing ingredients; olive oil, heavy cream, half and half, eggs and sugar and created a creamy concoction that celebrates all that is the San Francisco food movement. We think Alice Waters would be proud. Paired with our chocolate cake and a garnish of blackberries, it was positively sinful!