q&a vol. IV

[Volumes I, II and III]

on my way into work

Stephanie asks: Does Alex have an accent? That would be so sexy. My husband is from New Zealand, but sigh, no sexy accent. But hey, at least both are men are super cute and handy in the kitchen!

Much to my disappointment, he does not. But, he does say certain Russian words in that way people do when they’ve grown up hearing it said authentically. Like “zdrasvuytye” and “pelmeni.” Sometimes I try to play along and say Alex like “Ah-lee-yeg” or Odessa like “Oh-de-yes-a” but he just smiles and shakes his head.

doughnut plant

Jane asks: What would be your recommendations for eating out in New York? A couple of tips would be great.

Uuh… uuuh… You know, NYC has just a few places to eat out, from the super-posh to the 5-dumplings-for-a-dollar in Chinatown, so I am always loath to give suggestions to people visiting as what floats my boat my not float yours. We’ve had some fantastic meals at fairly expensive restaurants, but the thing is, in a city with a ton of household-name chefs, this seems less of a triumph. That said, Tabla’s Bread Bar and Tia Pol, both specializing in small plates at reasonable prices, are two of my favorite places to eat with no contest. Beyond that, my quintessential NYC food tour would include a knish from Yonah Schimmel, a doughnut from the Doughnut Plant, a pickle from The Pickle Guys, a bialy from Kossar’s (no link because their site crashed my browser!), bread from Balthazar’s next-door bakery, a croissant from the hole-in-the-wall Patisserie Claude and a visit to Murray’s Cheese. And yes, you have to walk to each of them or else is it is just gluttony.


Evil Chef Mom says: I hate when something just doesn’t hit the spot. It’s so frustrating! So what do you do then? Do you reach for a cookie, do you pout and think about what to do to make it better, or just give up?

It depends on how attached I was to getting it right. The cauliflower salad was no obsession: butterscotch pudding? Oh, it will be mine!


Mandy found the mac-and-cheese recipe on this site greasy and wondered if it was the cheddar that she used.

Actually, I’m glad you brought it up. When I posted what I thought was the easiest, awesomest mac-and-cheese recipe in the entire world over a year ago, I had only made it once, and that time had been splendid. What I’ve learned in the times I’ve made it since is that should you have leftovers–I’ve always served it to others, so we never do–it doesn’t keep perfectly. It gets somewhat solid and some of the oil splits off abit, which is just a shame. I am going to try a new mac-and-cheese recipe soon that I hear is much creamier and keeps better. In the meanwhile, the other mac-and-cheese is indeed delicious, but even better if you’re going to serve it to a crowd that will leave you with no leftovers.


Allie asks what to do with ramps; she bought a few bunches and need some ideas.

You’ve in luck (or so I hope)! I’ve bookmarked a few ramp recipes for the hopefully soon day that they make an appearance at the Greenmarket on a day I am actually there (unlike last year). Here are some that have caught my eye: Ramp Risotto, another risotto, this coming with the proud badge of having being cooked for the Pope last week, with a ramp pesto, a Ramp Soup from this month’s Gourmet
Don’t forget to check out for ramp recipes, too. Food bloggers love ramps!

yes, please

Stella says: Not food related, but would you ever live somewhere else besides NYC?

Yes, Paris. Beyond that, I don’t know… Alex and I both think that we would theoretically like San Francisco, but have no desire to be on the other side of the country from good pizza. Or our families. (In the other order, maybe.) I like Los Angeles, too, and we both agree that Austin sounds awesome. But yeah, none of them are New York, and we’re nowhere near tired of this place.

madison square park spring

Kaitlin asks: How do you bookmark and organize recipes you find online?

For the longest time, I had The Biggest Bookmark Folder You Have Ever Seen, but it was kind of a mess and not in any way transferable from computer to computer. (I know is great for this, but I just can’t get into it.) Now, I’m a Google Docs junkie, and I save all of my bookmarks on a Cook This document that I save and share with Alex, who I frequently demand look at it and find something fun to eat for dinner. I can get to it from anywhere, and one day hopefully soon, from an iPhone at a grocery store. I cannot wait.

cherry pits

Renee asks: I would love to know if you scale down the recipes for two or if you make the entire amount? And if you do what do you do with the leftovers (Adrienne asked this, too.)

Yes, we halve dishes all of the time. We’re not great with leftovers. Unless the dish blew our minds, and even when it did, we rarely think to eat the same thing two nights in a row or, there isn’t enough left for two more servings, so we end up making or ordering something else and forgetting about the leftovers until one day we realize the fridge is so full, we cannot fit the Brita in there and discover some seriously awful remains are populating it and then we try to convince the other person that it’s their turn to clean out the “That’s not a kiwi! That’s a lemon!” (a gory outtake from a fridge-cleaning conversation with housemates eons ago). This is about twice a month.

springtime in msp

Stacy asks: What are your typical weekday breakfasts and lunches? And do you and Alex snack a lot?

My weekday breakfasts and lunches are totally boring. In the winter, oatmeal with dried fruit; in the summer, yogurt with granola and banana–iced or hot coffee from the cart outside my office, depending on the weather. In my fantasy life–you know, the one with a ton of free time and the ability to manage it well–the granola would be homemade, the yogurt would be Fage and I’d get up extra early to have it at home with a cup of French pressed coffee. In actuality, it’s from a deli and I eat it while on a morning conference call. For lunch, usually a salad –I know, like whoa. I’m such a wild child–however, since I work in the neighborhood affectionately known as Curry Hill, and very close to the awesomeness that is Kalustyans, I do try to get Indian or Middle Eastern food (or street meat, always a sucker for that) from one of the ten thousand places around here about every couple weeks.

We do snack a bit, and probably more than we should, usually because I want to cook something for dinner and that always takes hours longer than I think it will. We usually have apples or whatever fruit is in season around, some sort of cheese, some sort of nut or nuts, something pickled and an occasional “flat meat” (sliced deli meat or salami, what I called them when I’d just started eating meat again and could never remember what each was called!)


Charlotte says: I also have a tiny kitchen and would love some tips on how you maximize on your space/organize? Pictures?!!

Not a whole lot has changed since I put up some pictures of our kitchen over a year ago: The pantry is still not as organized as it should be, the draw of kitchen tools and utensils is a mess and I’m still pushing the outer boundaries of what one can buy for the kitchen without having to move out or without the husband suggesting we annex some of the space in my closet allotted for my shoe habit to make space for my cookie cutter habit (It seems only moments before he goes there; in fact, I imagine him on the other side of a monitor somewhere thinking, “This is brilliant! I’ll make her choose!” Baby, don’t even think about it.) The only difference is that I, too, agree that we are At Capacity and what might have pushed us over the edge was a grill pan I ordered with Amazon rewards two months ago that fits exactly nowhere. So it lives under the single counter/cart, along with a whole bunch of things I don’t want to think about.

recipe, sunlight

Marc asks: How many times will you make something before posting it? I’m always worried about writing a key measurement down wrong when I post, but I just can’t bring myself to cooking something twice to double check it.

Hee hee. Oh, you mean more than once? Right, then. But really: Rather than promising a perfect recipe every time, I simply tell you if I think it was worth repeating or not. Quite often, I’m not in love with the recipe, but I know there is enough good about it that I write it up honestly and make some suggestions of what I would do it differently next time (as I did with the Cauliflower, Bean and Feta Salad). Other times, I know the recipe is just right the first time I make it, and tell people so (such as with the Almond Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote). Once in a while I’ll be so frustrated with a recipe it will get stuck in my craw until I make it right, and I don’t want to tell you about it until I do (such as with my Butterscotch Pudding disasters, if you count “freezing it” as “making it right”). Those are posts where you’ll hear about the trial and error that came before the final recipe.

kitchenaid awe

Angela asks: Do you use your Kitchenaid mixer to knead bread or pizza dough? If so, at what speed do you set it? The instruction manual says not to go over 2 but the dough doesn’t seem to really come together at that speed. Hmm, maybe this is the world telling me to knead my dough by hand?

Also, do you have a recipe for a sourdough starter?

Really? Not to go over two? Fascinating! I, er, totally knew that because I always RTFM. Alas, I don’t use the KitchenAid to knead very often, but I should because it’s really easy and does a great job. But, I kind of like working out tension (and, I’d like to imagine, toning my arms) by hand-kneading.

I have not made a sourdough starter but there are countless people who could guide you through it.

DUMBO, Brooklyn

Krissy asks two questions: I’d be curious to hear about the latest lens addition to the family…I’d like to add a wide angle sometime this year.

After fawning over wide-angle lenses for some time, Alex and I found one so (relatively) inexpensive, we caved. I understand that this is not the best reason/rationale for buying something–you know, versus “does it work well?”–but the reviews were almost all good and every other wide-angle lens was prohibitively expensive, so this was going to have to do. Problem is, we haven’t been out and about much this winter, and I think that the wide-angle lens really excels in outdoor shots (or, you know, places where there is an actual wide angle to view). Nevertheless, this is due to change in about eight days, when we go on vacation and I promise to update with a fuller report then.

Krissy’s second question: And what happened to the tips section?

I’m glad you were enjoying them–I was too–however, they were becoming impossible to keep up (once I ran out of the 40 I had written at the outset of the year) and it was causing me a terrific amount of stress-slash-guilt to maintain them. I do hope–no, plan–to resume them at some point, but certainly not before I have, say, 365 written and can just plug them into auto-posts. Daily maintenance is not much of an option so long as I have a day job!

Myndi asks what my five favorite cookbooks are right now.

First, a little background: For the longest time, I’ve been really conservative about buying cookbooks for two reasons, one, our lack of space and two, the fact that when I’m trying to figure out what to cook for dinner or an event–typically at work, late in the afternoon–they’re never near me, and it depresses me to see them go unused. This is why you see such an overabundance of recipes pulled from the web on this site. Well, a couple months ago I had the biggest “duh!” moment when I realized that if I left some cookbooks I wanted to get through at work, I’d solve both dilemmas at once (or at least temporarily).

So, currently residing in a desk drawer are Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Alice Water’s Chez Panisse Vegetables and Alice Mendrich’s Pure Dessert and they are, of course, my current favorites. Oh, and because it took me until the dead of winter to get on an ice-cream making bender, David Lebovitz’ Perfect Scoop seems to be permanently out at home.

Joanna says she recently moved to NYC and wants to know where do we shop, and how often? Do we plan a week’s worth of meals and buy everything on the weekends?

We shop at a mix of places: the Garden of Eden, Whole Foods and Gristedes in our neighborhood, one or two farmers’ markets when we can get to them and some specialty shops, as things are needed. I walk by more than one store on my way home from work and just pick up what we need, when we need it. We never stock the fridge and I rarely plan ahead; I think this is one of the ultimate freedoms of living in NYC, except for when you want to make eggs and toast on a Saturday morning and you have neither. I’m a master of the hodge-podge omelet (three chives, half a tomato, one minced cube of cheese we’d forgotten about)!

Celeste asks if I have a favorite food texture.

I’d have to say no. I really prefer contrasts above all else. I thought the Cauliflower, Bean and Feta salad was missing some crunch. I do tend to be more forgiving of things that are too coarse/crunchy rather than too soft. (I realized this when I made grits with chanterelles a while back: too soft, too rich for me).

Jessica asks if I have any suggestions for icing that is not too sweet?

I find the classic 7-Minute Frosting and it’s buttery counterpart, Swiss Buttercream to be much less sweet than quick buttercream, with just butter and sugar. I think they’re also pretty and shinier, so it is a win-win.

But wait! I have a question for you, too. Don’t hate us or anything, but we’re going on vacation again. We’re going to Prague and Vienna for a week and we’d love some suggestions. In each city, if you had to pick one ONE THING (please, no more; I get easily overwhelmed) that if we were to miss, it would be so very, very wrong, you’d feel it was practically a crime against travel in general (I feel this way about you eating a proper slice or bagel while in NYC), what would it be? I suspect that all of your “one things” could add up to a mighty awesome vacation for us.

Mostly unrelated: We’re having technical issues that nobody can figure out the cause of precluding us from putting all the links and photos in here that we’d like. If any of you know any WordPress geniuses for hire, I mean people who can fix high-level problems that might or might not be related to server issues, do shoot me an email. Thanks!

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84 comments on q&a vol. IV

  1. EJ

    Oh, I am jealous! Vienna and Prague are two of my favorite places in the world. It goes without saying that you have to have kaffee und kuchen at Cafe Central, but also try Cafe Hawelka for a more authentic Viennese coffeehouse experience. In Prague, I was really moved by a visit to Jewish cemetery near Stare Mesto, which survived WWII because Hitler wanted it preserved as a record of an extinct people. It’s one of the few places in Central Europe where Jewish graves that old survived both the Holocaust and the Iron Curtain intact– very powerful, and a spectacular place for photography. Have a great trip!

  2. EF

    You must try the restaurant Radost in Prague. I studied abroad there, and this was by far everyone’s favorite place. It’s vegetarian, everything is so deliciously prepared, you don’t even notice the meat is missing. Oh yeah, and like everything else, it is ridiculously cheap. The spinach burger is amazing, and I always dream about trying to recreate it somehow. (It’s also great for brunch).

    My other recommendation is to not just stay in the Old Town and New Town–Prague is small, and in the spring it’s easy to walk around everywhere, so take advantage and get out. A hike up Letin Hill is really fun as you can see the whole city from above.

    Have fun!

  3. Jen

    I second EJ, leave a stone on Rabbi Löw(y)’s grave in the Jewish cemetery in Prague.

    In Vienna, don’t miss the Wiener Secession — the name alone is perfect for your blog!

  4. Tara

    The Secession museum does have an interesting collection of modern and contemporary art, including Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze. Also, it’s not large so it won’t take long to tour. Bonus, it’s just down the street from the Naschmarkt, which always has an impressive array of local and international fruit, veggies, cheeses, meats, etc. It’s perfect for picking up a healthy breakfast or lunch.

    If you are tired of walking, hop on a street car and take a ride around the Ring. It’s a great way to see the central part of city. One of the streetcar lines can take you out to the Wienerwald, a beautiful place to take a walk in the forests and vineyards outside of the city. Heurigens are a great place to sample home cooking and locally made wine, but it can be difficult to find one that isn’t too touristy.

    Sorry, that wasn’t one thing. I did study-abroad in Vienna and have many fond memories. We didn’t get around to everything we wanted to do in 3 months, much less a week! Have fun!

  5. Amy

    You can totally have homemade granola every day! It’s the easiest thing in the world. I just mix about 6 cups of oats and several handfuls of whatever nuts or seeds or wheat germ I have around in a big baking pan. Then I melt some vegetable oil, sweetener (honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar or any combination of them), a glop of nut butter, and maybe a little vanilla or cinnamon until it starts to bubble. It’s probably a total of 1/2-3/4 of a cup of hot liquid? Pour the liquid over the oats and stuff, mix it up, and bake at 300-350 for a while, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until it’s a little browned. It’s never quite the same twice, and a batch lasts me a couple weeks. I think I’ll go make some right now…

  6. I also studied in Prague–if the open air opera is open, do that. If not, my second choice would be to go to a little marionette shop–leaving Old Town crossing the bridge heading up the hill toward the castle, it will be on your left about 3/4 of the way up. Amazing artistry and charming stories to go with them.

  7. Amazing pictures, those flowers look fake and the food looks incredible! NYC is my favorite place of all time for food. When I’m at home, I go to NYC every weekend and explore all of the gourmet and unique restaurants around the city. You can never get to them all, there are just too many. I won’t even begin to recommend any because I’ll be sitting here typing for another hour…

    The Peanut Butter Boy

  8. DocChuck

    My wife owns psychiatric clinics in both Prague and Vienna and I have invested in offshore proxy service businesses in both cities. They are indeed lovely, but no match for Paris, if you ask me.

  9. lori

    i’ve been lurking for at least 6 months now, and you finally got me to de-lurk with your mention of Prague. i was there about 10 years ago and still miss it. i would imagine they still do this, so if you get a chance, go inside the bridge tower. i think it was the one on the Old Town side. at that time it cost about 70 cents to go inside. you can go up the steps and get really great pictures of both sides of the town.
    now that i’ve de-lurked, i just wanted to thank you for all the great recipes and pictures. since i found your site, i’ve been using several recipes to wow my co-workers, roommate, boyfriend, etc. especially since i’ve always been fairly confident about cooking, but have only recently really attempted baking. the precision and patience that seemed necessary to successfully bake always scared me a bit, but your recipes and tips have helped a lot, in particular, the pie crust 101 post.

  10. Barb

    I have read your blog for over a year, and had to comment on your upcoming trip to Prague. I lived there for over a year, and it is, by far, the most fabulous place on earth. Although, a bit crowded with tourists these days.
    If at all possible, take a day trip out of the city. I’d recommend Kutna Hora, Karlovy Vary, or my favorite, Cesky Krumlov. You’ll see a different side of the country.
    Beware the pickpockets in the touristy areas, especially at the Castle, the Old Town Square, crossing from the bridge into the Old Town section, and on the trams and metro.
    I’m no beer drinker, but I love the Budvar. Pivo = Beer, Maly Pivo = small beer (12 ounce)
    To eat, walk off the tourist mecca streets 2 blocks or so, and pop into a small local restaurant. It will be less expensive, and the food will be better. If it’s on the menu, try the ice cream with warm raspberries. Heaven.
    Seriously, contact me if you have questions.

  11. elysha

    How is it possible that no one has mentioned the sachertorte at the Sacher Hotel in Vienna? Is it because it’s touristy? I guess it is but it is really a lovely experience and shouldn’t be missed.

  12. Santadad

    “We’re going to Prague and Vienna for a week and we’d love some suggestions.”

    Prague: Alte Neu Synagogue … not because I have been there (haven’t), but because I want to see the place where the Golem lived. :-)

  13. Charlotte K

    Well, if you are talking about food in Vienna I don’t have any suggestions. It’s all good and you will eat cakes and little sandwiches and schnitzel, I hope.

    But if I could only do one thing in Vienna it would be to visit the Kunsthistorische Museum to see the Breughel paintings. To me they are the greatest paintings in the world. The collection is large, and includes “Hunters in the Snow,” “Peasant Wedding” and many more. I would love to see it again but I’m glad to have seen it at all.

    Go to the opera too! There’s also a wonderful street market. Can’t remember the name but it will be in the Guidebooks.

    Prague is so lovely. Drink lots of beer. Go to the top of the old Town Hall tower. Go to the library at the Strahovsky Monastery. See a Mozart opera. The city is small and the center parts (old and new quarters) are very walkable.

  14. Angie

    I saw that you use Google Docs. Have you ever considered Google Notebook? It allows you to clip web pages as you are looking at them. I LOVE my notebook. It really has made my life a ton easier and that way I don’t have to copy and paste links into my Docs. Here’s the link if you want to take a look:

  15. Another vote for the Jewish cemetery in Prague. It was the only tourist thing I did (spent the rest of the time just walking around and eating/drinking), but it was unlike anything else I’ve ever seen.

    Wait, I’m wrong. We also went to the castle, which has a pretty cool cathedral (not another Gothic cathedral like you find all over western Europe–and Manhattan).

    But to recommend only 1 place, it would be the cemetery.

  16. Wow, great questions! And thanks for the answers! Jealous of your trip. I love Prague, but was there too long ago to offer anything useful.

    One storage suggestion: Have you considered hanging your cookie cutters on the wall? You could make a nice collage of them, and just wash them when you want to use them. If you don’t want to put a lot of hooks or nails in the wall itself, a big square of cork would do the trick.

  17. Anja

    Unfortunately, Rabbi Loew didn’t make my wish come true, so I can’t recommend this one. But when in Prague and up for an amazing dining experience go to La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise.
    Besides, I don’t want to sound too patriotic, you might have considered going to Berlin for a few days when you’re just around the corner.
    Oh, and there’s a Prague-related food blog called czech please (

  18. Kristin

    You will definitely enjoy your trip…they are both amazing cities. I loved the goulash in Prague, but our favorite lunch was the savory crepes at “Bar Bar”; we found it in the Let’s Go guide when I was there in “97. The food is great wherever you go there. Oh, and enjoy all the sausage vendors in Vienna. yummmmm.

  19. I am totally going to be getting one of those carts/counters for my new kitchen. I don’t have any real counterspace either. Also, barely any cabinets. There are photos on my blog.

    The biggest crime though of my new apartment kitchen is carpet. CARPET in the kitchen.

    I love those spice containers too, I will for sure be hitting up the container store.

  20. Thanks for the response:-) I just made something that didn’t quite live up to the fantasy I had in my head… It involved banana peels and had been floating around in my head for days. It was still good though, so I posted it anyway along with some suggested changes.

  21. Joanna

    Thanks for answering my question! Love the hodge-podge omelets — I’m also getting really good at making single-serving pasta dishes where I throw random leftovers into a skillet, cross my fingers, and hope for the best. Also, thanks for the reminder about Kossar’s bialys! I haven’t been there since I was a little kid, so nice to know they’re still around. :)

  22. Momcat

    I beg to disagree with one opinion – the Sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher was dry and tasteless on the day we visited. Also, it was very hot that day and we discovered that although my daughters and I were welcome, my husband was not allowed to enter because he (just like us) was wearing shorts. In Vienna, better to go to an outdoor cafe and have coffee and whatever pastries they have. Or on a hot day try the drink (I don’t know its name) that is a mixture of beer and lemonade. Sound weird but is very refreshing.

  23. I haven’t been to either, but my partner’s mother lived in Austria for a while as a child and he holds the country dear.

    His key recommendation is this: Coffee at a proper coffee place. Great coffee, great chocolates.

    He also recommends a classical music concert or opera if you can swing it “because it’s a real doings.”

  24. Tracey

    – pass on the Lippiscam…I’m mean Lippizan Stallion show
    – Eat at Esterhazykeller, it’s a very unique restaurant in an old wine cellar, homey and huge schnitzel and good beer (close to the Graben)
    – Bakery, don’t miss Demels
    – Gelato everywhere is AMAZING

  25. redhead

    When in Vienna:
    – visit Demel to have the gorgeous cakes, and have a view at the working pastry kitchen through the glass wall!
    – visit Julius Meinl food shop on Graben. For anything or any reason.
    – We had wonderful breakfast at a museum cafe in Albertina graphics museum. Come to think of that, the cafe at the applied arts museum was good, too… I am quite attached to cafes at museums, you see.
    – just wonder around. Shop, have a cake and coffee, stroll, have a cake and coffee… what could be better?!

  26. wendyr

    Prague is so AWESOME. I have only been to Vienna once – when I was 18 on my big trip around Europe (thanks Mom and Dad…) and I was a bit too enamoured with the fact I could legally drink to really enjoy the sites. Having said that, I remember their Natural History Museum was really good (but that is not my recommendation).

    My paternal grandfather was Czech, so Prague meant a lot to me. Besides drinking a lot of really cheap beer (as someone said – pivo) we just spent a lot of time walking around. One thing I made the husband do was go to the Police Museum. I found out about it in my rough guide and since we have a policy of going to one museum per trip (otherwise, we probably would just end up walking around and, um, drinking whatever the local speciality is) this was our museum. It was insane. It didn’t particularly cater to tourists (which was cool). In the museum, you got to take their (very complicated) drink-driving test (we were sober and I still think we failed), play video games (in Czech…not sure if we won or not) and solve a crime. I have a soft spot for interactive museums, so this was ideal for me.

    Other than that, just walk around. Prague is great and I wish I had spent more time there.

  27. Anna

    I’ve been to Prague twice, and both times I went to a concert in one of the churches. Prague has more classical musicians than any other city in the world, so there are performances all the time. Most of them have fliers on the street telling you what the program is going to be. Tickets were about $10 or $15, I think. I also second the suggestions for the Jewish quarter. Oh, and ride the metro. Prague has some of the coolest stations I’ve seen.

  28. Austin is heaven on earth! And yall’s thinking is right, it’s awesome. You should get down there stat! It’s a beautiful city and you would definitely get yourself some goooood food down there, first of all, Mexican, whether you want authentic, interior stuff or good ole Tex-Mex, and then some barbeque on the side. Oh I’m getting excited just talking about it (I’m sadly not in Austin right now) but if you ever decide to visit it please let me know and I’ll tell you exactly where you need to go! By the way, i like the q&a setup, i just got so excited at the mention of austin and got a little carried away.

  29. You are going to Prague and Vienna and passing Berlin? A shame!
    I definitely second the mention of Sachertorte, and will add aida for Vienna as well.
    You should also try to have Tafelspitz or any other traditional austrian meal at plachutta, he is THE ultimate traditional Austrian Chef! Enjoy your trip, and If you decide to go to Berlin afterall, let me know.

  30. The breakfast at the Mozart cafe in Vienna is to die for. Get the Pan breakfast and they have an assortment of breakfast breads that are awesome. I wish I could remember the name of the wienerschnitzel place we found but I WILL look it up for you. BEST EVER. If for some reason I don’t find the name (I will!) if you ask locals for the best place for it, they will all send you there. There’s a vineyard called Gumpoldskirchen that is incredible, they serve dinner and the food and wine are amazing. In fact, I’ve been dreaming about their wine for the last 8 years. honestly.

    The Sacher torte that everyone raves about was only ok.

    Oh, and would you be so kind as to correct my link if you get a chance? for some reason cookies brought up my old site and alas, it is no longer. :(

    Thanks for the mac info!

  31. I read the other comments and have to agree that the gelato in Vienna (often referred to as Eis there) is AMAZING. OMG. *drool*

    Also agree about the stallions, but we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the cemetary where the muscal greats are buried, and riding the ring (circle around the city) allows you to see lots….as does taking a horse drawn carriage ride….those are offered right outside mozart cafe btw

  32. Suzie

    The two things I remember about Vienna (sorry, not so good with directions) were: the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the bus system.

  33. about the accent…

    – It’s quite surprise for me, Alex has no THE accent. Most of the immigrant-men used to keep their accents for a long time.

    – All of us, immigrants, used to say certain words in a way we use them in our first language. It’s our charm. I speak English fast and enough fluently, but my accent always with me. I don’t hide. Moreover, I have a doble accent because I’m Jewish and from Ukraine, English is my third language.

    Enjoy time with your hisband!

  34. OK, so it’s not a cheery place at all, but the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague had the most emotional impact on me of any of the places we visited on our whirlwind backpack-through-Europe-before-we-start-a-family-and-give-up-our-freedom-
    for-18-years trip.

    We visited Dachau and other sites, but the simplicity and authenticity of Pinkas Synagogue was deep and resonating. I was able to really grasp and mourn the extent of the Holocaust (if that’s even possible) and also connect with the perseverance and beauty of the human spirit.

    Now, I did not grow up Jewish, so I imagine you would have an entirely different experience, but this is the place that moved me so deeply that it will stay with me forever.

  35. oh, here are the links I meant to include:,-What-to-See/Jewish-Places-in-Prague/Pinkas-Synagogue/

    and, I can’t find a photo of it, but all 80,000 names of Czech Jews who were killed in the Holocaust are painstakingly inscribed on the walls. Such a visual testament to the extent of suffering.

    Also, the second floor displays pictures drawn by children who were taken to Terazin concentration camp. Such an unusual and moving testament.

  36. Love the Q&A blog … jealous of your trip. For how long will you be away? I was to Vienna a BAZILLION years ago (24 years ago). Enjoy your vacation! Hope you get great inspiration by the wonderful bakeries in Austria — I enjoy your sweet recipes you post! I ate until I threw up (literally)! Then I knew it was just time to COME HOME!

  37. I spent two weeks in Eastern Europe two years ago and absolutely loved it.
    In Vienna I would definitely recommend visiting the Schloss Belvedere – the Palace is beautiful and their gallery collections are fantastic. They have a large selection of Klimts (his most famous, The Kiss) and Egon Schieles, which are not to be missed in my opinion. (

    In Prague, I would recommend taking advantage of the cheap garnet market to buy yourself a lovely souvenir. I found gorgeous earrings for under $20 and they are my favorite reminder of the entire trip – the shops past Wenceslas Square all have good bargains.

  38. Ooo, I loved Prague! So glad to hear you’re going. But even more than Prague, I loved a little town called Olomouc (pronounced all-em-oats) that was an easy overnight trip on the train. It had all the beautiful architecture and history of Prague without any of the tourists. There’s an amazing little tea house there too worth checking out.

  39. Deb, thanks for the Q&A.. I love getting to know bloggers and their habits a bit better! I will go back and look through versions I, II & III now.
    But to Stephanie, the questioner of Q#1: how can you say the kiwi accent is NOT sexy, eh, cuz? shaaaammme! use your taringas; the kiwi accent is sweet-as, bro! ;)

  40. Laura W.

    My favorite things in Vienna, besides that awesome streetcar system, are the Hundretwasser Haus and museum (they’re just a couple blocks from each other so go to both) and the town square (outside the main church) where we sat, had coffee, and played cards.

    The saschertorte was unremarkable and the hotel was pretty touristy – however, I can say I ate it and know what it is.

  41. Get some eis at Zanoni & Zanoni in the 1st district in Vienna on a warm day. It is loved by locals and tourists alike, for good reason.
    And, for locals’ reviews of places to go all around Vienna (food, sights, etc.) check out Tupalo.

  42. Emily

    Vienna..ahh…one of the great cities. There’s an amazing little cafe on one of the streets almost immediately behind (and parallel to) the back entrance to the palace/riding school that makes the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. I just wish I could remember the name…maybe someone who knows Vienna better can help. It’s a truly old-fashioned place: the waiters all wear tuxes, and the floor is big black/white tile. The other place you absolutely have to go is the Statsoper. It’s a wonderful example of extravagant architecture.

  43. Mary Beth

    It’s possible to take your own plastic or other containers to the take out place. I say that it’s possible, but I am still working on remembering to do this EVEN ONCE!
    Let me say that I aspire to take a tupperware in my bag when I go out to eat, so I can skip their doggie bag, but still enjoy my inevitable leftovers.

  44. I was in Prague for about a week last summer and LOVED it. I cannot wait to go back.

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square. Tourist-y, but also really beautiful. I second the suggestions for the Jewish Quarter and cementaries. Also, there’s a mini Eiffel Tour built up on the hill above the Castle. WAY, WAY above the castle. I think it is called the Petrin Hill and Observation Tower. You get an awesome view of the city and then there are some beautiful gardens near by. – there are all the pictures I took while in Prague.

    There was a great little restaurant near Strahov Monastery, but I’m not sure if it would be open this early in the spring/summer. Its on the hills underneath the Petrin Tower.

  45. I live in Vienna. I agree with the other posters that you should skip the Sachertorte. It is overpriced and dry and tasteless, and other Americans I’ve spoken to about it share my sentiments. I also agree that you should get some Eis, although it is pretty much like the ice cream in Italy if you’ve had it there. In fact, most of the Eis places are owned by Italians. You have to visit the Belvedere and Schoenbrunn palaces. I was just at Schoenbrunn today and the lilac is abloom there and it smells and looks incredible. There is also long, beautiful arch by the rose garden covered in wisteria. It makes for great pictures. Aida and Oberlaa are good for pastries. Oberlaa has a version of the macaron, which they call LaaKronen. Try the ribisel flavor–red currant. The chocolate is also very decadent. Any of the formal coffeehouses are good–the waiters even wear tuxedos. But brush up on your knowledge of Viennese coffee drinks because if you just say coffee, they will look at you funny. You have to order something specific. The Stadtpark this time of year is also beautiful. If you’re in Vienna on a Saturday, the Naschmarkt is a lot of fun, and is in a beautiful area along the Wiener Linkzeile. But it is quite crowded. If you have time, you can take a bus/train to Baden or some of the wine villages in Lower Austria (Krems, Falkenstein) and spend a day there and visit one of the heuriger. I have a bunch of posts about Vienna on my blog, so if you’re interested, you can look.

  46. Krissy

    Thanks for answering my questions, especially about the lens. I wish I had some advice for your upcoming trip, but thus far, all my travels have been throughout the U.S. I hope you have a great trip and I can’t wait to see your photos. Oh, and I think Kitt is onto something by hanging your cookie cutters on a wall…reminds me of my mom and her jello molds, but updated and so much cuter!!

  47. Colleen

    I’ve been living with my Fulbright-scholar husband in Bratislava (just an hour from Vienna) since August and make the move to Prague in a just a few days. In Vienna, if you have to choose one of the big Habsburg palaces to visit, I’d take Schönbrunn ( at this time of year. The vast gardens are coming into bloom, which is reason enough, but if you go also take the “Grand Tour” of the imperial apartments. The most beautiful rooms are in the second part after the “Imperial Tour” ends. The decoration here totally kicks Versailles’ butt. :-) In Prague, I’d recommend the Municipal House ( if you at all enjoy Alfons Mucha and the Art Nouveau style that has made Prague famous. You can take English-language guided tours of the beautiful halls and rooms, and like just about any lovely public space in Prague you can buy tickets to see a classical concert in Smetana Hall. There’s also a pretty café and a couple of restaurants inside. Have a great trip!

  48. Bobo

    The only thing I can specifically remember from my trip to Prague 3 years ago (other than the fact that it was lovely) was this one little ice-cream shop near the centre called ‘Cream & Dream’. I never wanted to leave once I’d tasted their ice cream.
    I googled it just now and the main website is in Italian, but you can find other websites that will give you the address as well. I hope you have a great trip!

  49. In Prague, there’s a hill that has a mini-Eiffel tower on top. It also has a mirror maze on top, which can provide a little entertainment. There are rose gardens at the top, and fruit trees all the way up the hill. Depending on the season, you can pick sweet cherries, or pears, or peaches, or apples, for FREE! They’re delicious and the walk is beautiful. Here’s the problem–I don’t know the name of the hill. But maybe someone else does, and if you look for the mini-Eiffel tower, it’s easy(ish) to spot!
    I’m sorry to be vague, but I’ve been to Prague twice and both times had a wonderful relaxing day on the hill.

  50. emily

    Ahhh, you lucky duck. I have exactly no recommendations having never been to either city. However, because I am selfish, I would like to second (or third or whatever) the call for you to please give us a run-down when you are back. I am actually going to Prague in August so I can put your recommendations into practice — yippee!
    On an unrelated note, the granola photograph above looks soooo good. I gotta try making granola with dried fig pieces because I’m sure they don’t sell it in Australia :)
    Have a wonderful holiday

  51. Oh – one more thing about Prague: When we were there, there were many students and other people who you could “rent” for an afternoon tour – it’s a win/win for them: they make some extra money and also get to practice their English – and also for you: you have someone all to yourself for the day. i got info at, amazingly enough, the Info place (the ones in Europe are all fabulous) I can’t remember which square, but there were a bunch. Our college student guide, Lucia, took us through the Parliament and then to the Old Quarter (beautiful! – I think that’s what it’s called – it’s the place below the castle, across the famous river bridge from the main town) – and taught us much history of the Czech Republic’s Velvet Revolution etc on the way. I think it only cost us $15 US for the afternoon (maybe a bit more now that the dollar has dropped a bit). We did a similar thing for a Pub Crawl at night – a mid-30s guy took a group of us to a bunch of pubs and we got to try lots of great Czech Pivo (the dark is amazing!). There were flyers for this kind of thing everywhere – you could maybe ask someone who’s been recently or someone on the street for a recommendation.

    Clearly, I need to travel again! :)

  52. I’m thankful for those New York tips, SmittenKitchen! As I’ll be visiting the city for the first time in June, it’s great to have at least some recommendations from local experts!
    Have fun in Europe – and too bad you’re not coming to Tallinn, as I would have had loads of tips :)

  53. Peggy

    I also studied in Prague, and like a good college student I sampled virtually every beer the Czech Republic has to offer. My favorite by a long shot was Kozel Dark (or Kozel Cerny), which the guys on my abroad program renamed “the sweet nectar of life.” And it is that good!

  54. natalie

    Hi there! LOVE your site!

    Might I make a suggestion for a new mac and cheese recipe?! Martha Stewart’s mother’s recipe is outstanding. I put the link down there… It’s creamy and rich and really amazing. I’m a mac and cheese junkie and I wouldn’t dare steer you in the wrong direction on this. Give it a try, I think you’ll really like it.

  55. We just returned from Vienna! We took a trip in March.

    I recommend:
    To see:
    Schoenbrunn Palace
    Amazing palace and grounds. The audio tour is worth it.

    Leopold Musem
    Best collection of Austrian art in my opinon. Doable in a few hours. Nice way to spend a morning after breakfast.

    St. Stephen’s Cathedral
    Beautiful interiors. Take a tour of the catacombs.

    Lichtenstein Museum
    I could have spent another day here. Beautiful collection. If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to check out some of the antique stores. Really beautiful shops.

    To eat/drink:
    Kaffee Alt Wien
    This served as our hangout most nights. Great, delicious food for cheap. Wonderful staff, great place to unwind with a beer or a melange. An easy walk from the Stephansplatz metro stop.

    Traditional Heuriger. Serves pitchers of fruity wine and huge wiener schnitzel. Just a short walk from the Herrengasse metro stop.

    Delicious food and a great collection of cookbooks.

    Make sure you get a kasekrainer from one of the sausage stands. Delicious sausage in a hard roll. I ate way too many of these on our trip! Also, make sure you stop by the famous Naschmarkt. We stopped here on the first day and stocked up on fresh fruit, nuts, a spices.

    I hope you guys have a great time!

  56. megan

    I agree that the Schoenbrunn in Vienna was a fun visit. There’s lots to do with the gardens, palace tour, and zoo. We were there before Easter and there was a lovely Easter market in the front, too. Maybe there will be a spring market if you go.

  57. Christina M.


    My favorite cafe by a stretch is Cafe Diglas, which is in the first district of Vienna, central to just about everything. It’s the quintessential Viennese cafe– elegant, a bit shabby, with FABULOUS deserts (I recommend the Fruchtschnitte). Brief description here:

    Definitely don’t miss out a Donner Kebab (or bottle of wine, or basket of berries) from the Naschmarkt.

    And if you’ll accept just one more recommendation– please check out the Museum for Angewandte Kundt (aka MAK). They have awesome applied arts and interior design, including the fantastic art nouveau and art deco stylings of the Wiener Werkstaette ( It also has an excellent cafe restaurant.

  58. Maytal

    One more question pretty please!!

    I tried to make pastry cream for a fruit tart, I was following the directions in the martha stewart baking cookbook. it involves simmering the milk with the other ingredients, making sure it reaches 160 F, etc. I followed it exactly. It is the second time I’ve made it and it has never come out right. Is the milk supposed to thicken when you simmer it? It never does, once I made it and it came out like scrambled eggs. Help!! Do you have a good filling for fruit tarts that I can use that explains the process.

    Thanks!! Maytal

  59. Kerri

    You should post some recipes from Alice Mendrich’s Pure Dessert!
    I got that book for Christmas and haven’t made too many recipes out of it, so I’d love to see how they turn out for you.

  60. Alecia

    Hey..can you get a recipe up for pelmeni? I spent 6 weeks in Kazakhstan recently and ate my weight in pelmeni. At least…I think that is what it was called!

  61. Lucy

    I live in Vienna and would definitely suggest you check out the following:
    – Leopold Museum
    – Do&Co in Haas House
    – Käsekrainer (cheese-filled sausages, taste better than they sound)
    – phil for breakfast, Gumpendorferstraße 10-12, also one of the few non-smoking locations in the city
    – Military History Museum
    -Naschmarkt, but if you go on a Saturday, be sure to get there early, because it is utter mayhem at around noon, Umar is a nice seafood place there to grab lunch.

  62. I love a good mac-n-cheese and will try just about any recipe. However, I’ve never met a single one that didn’t do that hard-clump-grease-around-the-edges thing once refrigerated and used as leftovers. EXCEPT sometimes. And the thing is, I make mine the exact same way every time. The only thing that varies is the cheese I use. So I do think that the cheese matters, and in my experience, using a mixture (rather than all cheddar) is much better. The more cheddar, the more likely it is to be greasy.

  63. I will definitely check out donut planet when I move to the East Coast! I am so excited about finally being somewhat near New York. I cannot wait to try all of the random eateries they have over there! :) Thanks for the info!

  64. jane

    A belated thank you *so* much for answering my question. The recommendations all look wonderful and my stomach is already looking forward to its trip to New York! Thanks a million.

  65. Konna

    For interesting architecture that people really live in, go visit Hundertwasser Haus in Vienna. Also, there was a flee market in the city that was interesting…of course, this was 12 years ago so who knows where the market is now! Schoenbrunn Palace was also great and if you are into ballet, they were putting on a show in one of the rooms that had amazing tapestries on the way in. Go to a place that has the waltz….it can be a bit campy but also fun since you are in Vienna!

    Just made the Blue Chip Choc Chip Cookies and they are great! I live at nearly 10,000 ft so have to adapt it a bit, but mighty tasty. Thanks!

  66. this was an interesting and neat introduction to you and your husband. I stumbled upon your blog last month when I was in desperate need of finding world’s best Chicken Coq au vin recipe for cooking club. Your post was informative and though I didn’t follow it to the t, I enjoyed reading it. I revisited couple weeks ago, for, the hell of it. I enjoyed that read as well so here I am, posting a comment. And I plan to be back.

    have a good trip to vienna and prague. i am really jealous!

  67. Laurie

    Wow, these have been some of the best Vienna “must-do/eat/see” tips I’ve seen on the web! You have some savvy fans, Emily! I hope you had a blast in Vienna…we’re headed there in a week and I was thrilled to see so many good ideas.

    So, a question, either for you or your fans: Does anyone have a good site with information on ordering at coffee houses? I’d especially love a “menu.” or list of the most common drinks…

  68. Clare Black

    Hi Deb, greetings from Cape Town, South Africa, it would be great if you could have Smitten Kitchen app? Then we all could connect with you and your wonderful writing and brilliant receipes! I’ve been following you for years and so admire, enjoy and use your receipts. have your first book and can’t wait for the new one. Warmest regards, Clare Black ps I am already signed up for your emails.

  69. BakerGirl

    I know I’m a bit late but I’ve been dying to know: does Deb(or anyone else really) have a good lemon meringue pie recipe?