Thursday, July 31, 2003

The Russian restaurant Wladimir, near Westbahnhof (Burgerspitalstrasse 22) is a memorable place to visit in Vienna. It has been so particularly for me, since on July 18 my Mom arrived from Canada, we picked out this restaurant, and invited a few IETF friends to join us -- a lovely way to spend the evening.

If you visit this restaurant, you will want to order what the proprietor tells you to order -- it makes it so much easier. The proprietor is a Russian native from Wladimir, 80 km north of Moscow, who speaks German, Russian and very functional English (who knows what other languages as well). His advice on what and how to order is given rather commandingly (at least in English) but his advice is worth following anyway. He will advise you to start with the Russian salad -- a layered salad with shredded carrots, some marinated fish and other ingredients. We really could not tell all that was in it but we all liked it, the tastes melded and balanced well. After that, if you order Borscht or Varyniki this is OK with him, as long as you all choose the same number of courses. Varyniki are what Ukrainians and Canadians call pyrogies, these are like wontons, but they stand on their own as an entree. When they arrive the proprietor will instruct you how to eat them, whole with the wooden spoon which holds a single varyniki.

You can drink wine or beer, but if you seem to have difficulty choosing the proprietor will instruct you to order Kvas and this is again an excellent choice. It seems to be blackberry cider, sweet and light, and after a few sips the sweetness becomes less noticeable and it's just the light berry flavour you notice. Finally, the proprietor will recommend Wladimir's signature dessert, an almond torte (flat cake) comprised of light thin layers of cake and almond icing, with sugared slivered almonds and whipped cream garniture. I came back tonight because I couldn't manage the dessert last time, and I also tried the kvas and they went fine together.

If you're really lucky, the proprietor will tell you jokes. I didn't get any jokes tonight, just questions about US locations, but we got two jokes two weeks ago.

Joke #1 (a tchok-tchak is apparently a russian equivalent of an Eskimo):

A tchok-tchak and his wife receive some presents. They unpack a framed mirror and hang it on the wall. Then the husband looks in it and calls out, "Wife, wife! Look, my brother is coming!" His wife runs over and looks too. "And that slut with him!" she replies.

Joke #2:

A man from St. Petersburg visits Moscow for the first time. He is splashed by a vehicle on the streets and gets upset, saying "Moscow is bad, bad, bad." A passerby hears him and says "Isn't St. Petersburg the same?"

  The man replies "No, in St. Petersburg the driver would have apologized. He would have taken you home, washed your clothes, and ironed them. He would have invited you to stay the night while your clothes dried, and given you breakfast in bed."

  "Did this really happen to you?" asked the passerby...

  "No, but it happened to my wife three times!"

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