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FOOD & DRINK

The secret society that’s all about cake

If you're feeling inspired to get baking by the amazing range of sweet treats in Austria, the Clandestine Cake Club might be for you.

The secret society that's all about cake
A poppyseed and mango cake. Photo: Sabine Vigar

Vienna is famous for its wonderful Konditoreien (patisseries or cafes specialising in pastries and cakes) where people of all ages go to enjoy Kaffee und Kuchen in the afternoon and on weekends.

Almost as sacred as the Japanese tea ceremony it's a real Viennese ritual. And once you’ve figured out your Topfenstrudel from your Gugelhupf you might want to try and create some of these sweet creations. The Local caught up with Emma Boon, originally from the UK, who started a branch of the Clandestine Cake Club in Vienna.

What is the Clandestine Cake Club and who can become a member?

We are all about cake! We bake it, we eat it, and we talk about it. The Clandestine Cake Club was originally started in the UK. The individual clubs meet in secret locations all over the world.

I started the Vienna branch in June 2015 and we currently have 33 members. There is a theme each month – and we all bake a cake inspired by that theme. The membership is free and open to both men and women, and all nationalities. All level of baking abilities are welcome. I am a complete beginner and have my usual disasters but I am OK with that because you can only improve by practising each month. Cakes are not judged, thankfully! New members can join via clandestinecakeclub.co.uk. We also post a monthly blog on this website, along with photographs of each of the Vienna meetings.

How often do you meet?

Photo: Emma Boon

We meet once a month, usually in a member's home. But we're looking for new venues for the coming year. These could be something like a book shop, a coffee shop or cafe, or a recreation room. If we were to meet in a coffee shop, for example, we would bring along our themed cakes but we would purchase our refreshments from the venue as a thank you for allowing us to use their premises. Plus, the coffee shop may gain a few extra regular customers.

What brought you to Vienna?

I came to Vienna with my husband as he was offered an exciting position here. He still loves the job four years later. I'm an accountant and work at the International Atomic Energy Agency. We live with our two rescued cats in the 22nd district near the Hirschstetten Blumengärten and the Badeteich Hirschstetten. We would not want to live anywhere else in Vienna! The Blumengärten has the best Christmas market, with lots to do for both adults and children.

Why do you love cake so much?

I think it's that wonderful homely, almost nostalgic feeling of slicing into a cake. For me, the perfect accompaniment is a lovely cup of tea. It has to be home-made cake and not factory-made to be a real cake. You cannot beat the taste of someone's hard work and love that has gone into making a cake. There are so many flavours and so many techniques. I love trying new cakes but my all time favourite has to be a traditional carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

What do you enjoy most about life in Vienna?

People! I enjoy being around so many different nationalities. I love that we have such a diverse group of people that come along to the Clandestine Cake Club and bring their local bakes with them. I enjoy the ease of public transport here and especially travelling on the old trams. Vienna is located centrally in Europe which means we can travel easily to so many interesting cities. And I like the parks – my favourite is Türkenschanzpark (in the 18th district). I particularly love the fact that dogs can pretty much go anywhere with their owners here. Seeing dogs get pushed around in their own doggy-mobiles still makes me smile. I've even seen a few cats going for a walk on a lead.

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FOOD & DRINK

Hugo, Almdudler and Radler: 5 drinks to try in Austria this summer

It is easier to face the summer heat with a proper cold drink in your hands. Austrians know that well and have created (or made popular) several delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Here are five you should try.

Hugo, Almdudler and Radler: 5 drinks to try in Austria this summer

The debate of which is the perfect summer drink is undoubtedly a very controversial one.

While many people would argue that nothing can beat the Italian Aperol Spritz (which is also very popular in Austria), some would rather stay with a simple cold beer.

If you are team Spritz, then you should know that Austria has a love for things g’spritzt, with their own versions of sparkling drinks (with or without alcohol). However, for those who prefer a beer, the alpine country is home to several famous brands, including the Styrian Gösser, the Viennese Ottakringer, and Stiegl, from Salzburg.

READ ALSO: Five Austrian destinations you can reach by train to escape the heat

In any case, when living or visiting a new country, it’s always fun to try out the traditional dishes and, in this case, beverages.

Here are five drinks you should try during the Austrian summer.

Hugo drink summer drink austria

Hugo is a very popular (and sweet) summer drink in Austria (Photo by Greta Farnedi on Unsplash)

Hugo

Some say this is the Austrian answer to the Aperol Spritz, but its sweetness from the elderflower syrup makes it quite different from the bitter bright orange Aperol.

There is also a bit of controversy as to where this drink, which Austrians love to drink during a nice summer afternoon, originates.

Internationally, it seems to be widely accepted that this alcoholic aperitif comes from South Tyrol, a German-speaking region of Italy with deep Austrian roots. Ask any Austrian, though, and they will tell that just proves the drink is from Austria.

READ ALSO: Eight ways to talk about the heat like a true Austrian

Italian or Austrian, the sweet drink is made with prosecco, elderflower syrup, seltzer and mint leaves. Serve it with lots of ice in a large glass, and you have a perfect summer drink.

white wine drinks party

Mix your white wine with sparkling water and you get a refreshing gespritzt (Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash)

weiß gespritzt

This is extremely popular, relatively cheap even in fancy restaurants, and somewhat controversial, but take some white wine and add a little sparkling water (sometimes ice) and you get a weiß gespritzt, or a g’spritzter.

READ ALSO: The best Austrian wineries to visit this summer

Not everyone appreciates mixing your wine with water, but it makes for a refreshing and lighter drink. In Austrian restaurants, you might be asked whether you want a summer gespritzt, which means it has higher water content and, therefore, is lighter, or a “normal” one.

It is by no means an Austrian drink, and you may have to ask for a Weinschorle instead of a Gespritzter in Germany, but it is a popular drink in the German world.

gösser radler drink

Austrian brands sell some of the most popular Radlers in Europe (Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash)

Radler

A Radler is another drink that though not from Austria, is extremely popular here. Not only that but some of the most popular Radlers are sold by Austrian brands.

Traditionally, all you need to make a Radler is to mix beer and lemonade. However, the drink is also found bottled and sold by beer companies such as Gösser and Ottakringer. The mix has also expanded and you can discover Radlers with a citrus or berry mix.

READ ALSO: Austrian old folks toast success of ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ beer

It is a lighter and sweeter beer, perfect for enjoying the summer with a fresh drink that is not so alcoholic.

Mixing apple juice and sparkling water creates a perfect non-alcoholic summer drink. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)

Apfelspritz

Following the Austrian love for adding sparkling water to drinks, a very common and non-alcoholic beverage is the Apfelspritz.

It is a mix of apple juice and (you guessed it) sparkling water. It is popular in Biergarten as a non-alcoholic alternative, with kids joining in on toasts with their apple and soda mix.

The drink is also very common in Germany (where it is known as Apfelschorle), Switzerland and Hungary.

READ ALSO: Cash and Schnapps: A guide to visiting pubs and cafes in Austria

almdualer gerhard schilling

Almdudler’s CEO Gerhard Schilling holds a bottle of the traditional Austrian drink (© Philipp Lipiarski)

Almdudler

Another option for a summer light and non-alcoholic drink is the Almdudler, which is technically the name of the Austrian brand that sells the famous carbonated soft drink.

The drink is a blend of 32 “natural alpine herbs, beet sugar and soda water”, according to the website. It has a very distinctive logo and can be found in almost all Austrian households – being one of the most popular beverages in the country.

Did we forget about your favourite summer drink? Then let us know in the comments below or send us an email at [email protected]

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