If you like anything that is baked, no doubt your feet will take you to this place! And make sure you try the Philmenbrot once you get there!
There is a type of bread in Vienna, which I would travel thousands of kilometres for. Fortunately, there are a handful of other essential things in this city, but bread simply constitutes one of the most fundamental staples of nourishment. The sole meaning of this concept of “bread” cannot be understood without tasting it. I too can only describe it and illustrate with an example:
I am talking about the “Philmenbrot”. I have not a clue where the “ph” comes from, since the recipe, so the legend says, is of Finnish origin. I don’t know any Finnish, and for me the “ph” looks Greek, if anything. But it is not – luckily; because Greek bread is not as formidable.
This bread is only sold on Mondays and Thursdays – at least at this particular location. You have to earn it. You must, no, you should, if you really want a piece, have it reserved. I usually order four or five pieces that I take back to Paris, so that I can survive for a little while.
The bread is beyond description; dense, full of flavor, grainy, crispy … It’s part of the bigger family of whole-grain breads, though all other breads appear pale in this category.
You find it at “Staudigl” on the Wollzeile, an otherwise colourless modern health food store with attentive service. They know me quite well. Up to now, I have managed to avoid admittance to the madhouse. I even get to pay with credit card.
There are many things in Vienna that I would love to learn to make, because one day they will be gone. I hope there are many more Mondays and Thursdays with PHILMENBROT to come, otherwise I would also have to go through baking school.
by Otto Pfersmann