When I moved to Europe 17 years ago, one of the first rituals I quickly adapted myself to, was the coffee-time culture. While much has been written and said about the European coffee culture, to get a real taste of it and feel its unique flair one has to experience it first hand.
Each country on the European continent has its own specific coffee-time custom and each will nourish these rituals, which often have been established over the centuries and handed down from generation to generation.
Coffee-time in Europe is tradition and a means for family and friends to socialize with each other in a relaxed atmosphere. Visitors to Europe will immediately notice, if not feel, the difference. For one, Europe boasts of some of the oldest coffeehouses, what visitors will not see a lot of here are the modern chains á la Starbucks, which dominates the American continent. Order a cup of coffee and you will be treated to a rich, aromatic brew served in a porcelain coffee cup with sugar on the side and often a glass of water.
Paper cups? How uncivilized! Coffee-on-the-go? Unheard!
Walk through the streets of any European city and one will hardly see pedestrians clutching their on-the-go coffees in paper cups, as it is the case in many American urban areas. Europeans enjoy the experience of socializing, to simply take a break, to unwind and to savor the simple pleasures.
Cafés and coffeehouses in Europe tempt visitors with their cakes, pastries, exquisite sweet treats and light snacks. When the sun shines and the temperatures rise, tables and chairs are moved outside on the sidewalks and people flock to the cafés and coffeehouses to talk, to read or to write, to people watch or just to pass time. There is nothing on-the-go about this way of life!
It’s one of the things I quickly took to and over the years have enjoyed cultivating the coffee culture with the simple joy and pleasure it was meant for. I have travelled Europe widely, visiting sophisticated cities all over the continent from Madrid to Paris, Basel to Vienna, Oslo, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Florence and the one thing I always truly enjoy is having the opportunity to sit in a small, cosy café and for just a tiny moment I feel like I am a part of the local atmosphere. The diverse coffeehouse ambience in each of the cities offers me a means to get closer to the locals and for an instant allows me to engage myself in their lives. Whether it is a temperamental discussion in Italian over espresso in Florence or just eavesdropping into sing-song notes of conversation in Norwegian over a thick cup of black in a Kaffehuset in Oslo, the scene is perfect for meeting new people or just satisfying the inner voyeur.
Enjoying this type of coffee culture however, is not only restricted to cafés and coffeehouses. On the contrary, in Germany Sunday afternoons are often reserved for family and friends, who are invited over for kaffee und kuchen – coffee and cake. Cakes are baked using fresh seasonal ingredients and the table is laid with fine porcelain coffee cups, plates and the silverware are brought out. It’s a bit of coffeehouse flair in the comfort of ones home.
Now as the weather warms up and the days are longer I enjoy entertaining my friends on our terrace. The table is dressed with a colorful tablecloth and decorated with wild spring flowers we gathered from our walk earlier. From the oven delicious aromas of buttery apples, sweet cinnamon and berries waft throughout the sunlit bottom floor of our house filling the appetites of my guests with pleasurable anticipation.
This strudel is a delectable sweet addition to any coffee-time tradition. Flaky strudel dough wrapped around cinnamon-kissed apples and goji berries make the strudel treat a heavenly experience. You can use puff pastry dough for this, but I prefer using strudel dough as it makes the strudel more delicate and wonderfully light and crisp. The strudel dough recipe comes courtesy of Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers and is very easy to put together.
Don’t be put off by the strudel dough recipe trust me it’s very easy to put together. Of course there is nothing against using good store-bought strudel dough to make this sublime strudel. It is the enticing intermingling of sweet cinnamon fruit with the nutty hazelnuts that make this so wonderfully desirable. Served with a drizzle of vanilla sauce it becomes the perfect dessert after a lovely dinner party.
Take a break from being on-the-go and reward yourself with a relaxing treat of coffee and a sweet treat. Kick off your shoes and do something good for yourself. Don’t you deserve it?
I am extremely excited to announce the next Monthly Mingle theme. My dear and cherished sister Jeanne is this month’s gracious hostess and we want your Topless Tarts. So, get them out and show them off if you dare! You have till 30th April to join the fun. For details on how you can show your stuff please head on over to Jeanne’s announcement page.
Plate to Page
We have exciting to news to share (especially with the participants of the Weimar Workshop): we have collaborated with a few pretty awesome partners and secured them as our fantastic sponsors. Come on over and see how they are partnering with us over on the Plate to Page blog.
It’s been a busy week here, with a trip to Berlin on Monday for a pretty cool assignment and a challenging shoot planned for Friday. I hope you all have a great week ahead and enjoy the weekend!
Before I sign off: Saveur is nominating the best food blogs for their 2011 Best Food Blog Awards. Please head on over, if you have a minute, and nominate your favorite blogs and of course I would appreciate your nominations for What’s For Lunch, Honey? in the category Best Photography.
Be well and be safe.
Scrumptious coffeehouse sweet treats from WFLH:
|Cannoli with Gianduja Cream and Lemon Goat Cheese Cream||Bakewell Tart with Thyme Infused Cherry Preserve and Cashew Frangipane||Chocolate Éclairs|
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2011 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First