Monday, 20 October 2014

Tasting the Famous Sacher Torte of Vienna

I didn't know about this Sacher Torte until the Austrian local tour guide told us about it during the city orientation tour. Apparently, it's big deal - something of an institution - in Vienna.

While I didn't know about the torte (German word for "cake". A torte is not a tart. Close, but no cigar. No smoking in the cafe), I've heard about Austrian coffee houses back in the 19th century though.

Sacher Hotel, Vienna, Austria
Sacher Hotel

I was thirsty (for coffee) while we were sightseeing around Sacher Hotel, and so we dropped in to check out this Sacher torte. At the table is a booklet hanging on a rack, which you would understandably mistaken it for a menu. It's actually a history pamphlet about the Sacher torte. I guess it's a menu of few pages that tells you everything about this cake.

Well, how could we not order it? (But didn't read it. I was on holiday).

Sacher torte cake, Vienna
The cake in question. It stamped with a seal of letter "S"

It looks like a chocolate cake. But look can be deceiving. After one mouthful, I'm reluctant to report that it's just a chocolate cake. A bit of a tangy taste, which reminds me of some black forest that I tried before. I had to say I like the black forest better.

Taste is personal. To some Coca-Cola is irresistible while others don't care for it. Coca-Cola formula is so successful that it's a well known company trade secret. If you think this secrecy is a bit much, Sacher torte formula is a state secret. This is marketing on turbo drive.

If the seal on this chocolate doesn't impress you, the state secrecy should do it. I could tell people now that I had swallowed an Austrian state secret (and keep my mouth shut. Never chew with my mouth open. I'm a gentleman with a modicum of refinement and extreme modesty).

There're only 2 places in the world that you can sample this classified chocolate cake, this coffee shop in Vienna and Salzburg (more on this in another article). Rarity makes the hearts want more. Brilliant marketing move.

If I wash down this torte with a Coca-Cola, does that mean it's a secret soaked in a mystery inside my stomach? Is this a tasteful joke? Well, taste is subjective.

Even without the state-sponsored secret cake, there's still a few good reasons to visit the coffee shop. The cafe has a nice 19th century interior that completes with chandeliers and oil portraits of ladies of high society. An atmosphere of patrician opulence of by-gone days that you can soak in while sipping your coffee. The coffee is not a bad drop. It's as good a place to rest your weary feet and answer your nature's calls as any.

Despite all branding, it doesn't cost an arm or a leg to have a coffee break here. In fact, prices are slightly lower than Starbucks. What more excuses do you need? Go on, treat yourself with a cake with a state-secret recipe. You know you're worth it.

Cafe Sacher, Vienna Cafe Sacher, Vienna

And if you want to share this secret with someone else, you can order the cake, which they will gift wrap for carrying it back home.

There were a few local patrons there that seemed to fit into the place very well. They looked like they were here since the cafe opened a few centuries back.

Bon appetit! Sorry, Guten Appetit !

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