A Finer Market: Meinl am Graben, Vienna
My “Market Monday” series here on ChiliCult usually focuses on older markets with the character of way-back-when; places giving an impression of the importance of foods as local products and far-traveling items of trade.
Given my interest in hot spices and products and the modern spice trade, however, supermarkets also have a role to play.
Many of the products, sometimes unexpectedly, featuring chilli are to be found in supermarkets, not with local producers and the like – and the differences between the two tend to be fleeting: products from local makers, with intensely local character, have become some of the most interesting good for the global trade in specialties, even and perhaps especially as the attention paid to such products among the hot spices has waned.
Or as it has waned when it isn’t being promoted by a smaller specialized producer and/or trader.
One of the most interesting markets for someone interested in the finer things in food life, and simply in good food, in Vienna is definitely the Meinl am Graben.
This institution right in the center of Vienna’s luxury products quarter, at the junction of the Graben and the Kohlmarkt where the city’s highest concentration of luxury brands has settled, spans three floors presenting well-established, and oftentimes new and interesting and fine, foods.
The first floor underground (there would be more, but those aren’t publicly accessible) serves as wine cellar and event space, with a far-ranging selection and lots of atmosphere.
The ground floor contains a small café and offers sweets, drinks (from yet more spirits via the full range of Coca-Colas to more ‘artisanal’ soft drinks such as Fentimans or the ‘Alps lemonade’ Enzo and water from around the world), dairy products, as well as fruit and vegetables.
The range of marmalades and honeys should not go without mention, and having pointed to sweets, I should also note that the selection of chocolates here is very nearly without peer (even as the Xocolat is not far away).
The upper floor, finally, presents baked goods and cheeses, meat and sausages and fish, spices and sauces and oil and vinegars, as well as rice and pasta.
It’s probably not the international traveler’s major concern, but if you are looking for mint sauce or Marmite in Austria, this is the place to find it – along with, at times, the chile sauce mojo from the Canary Islands, for example…
I had the special pleasure of being able to join a guided tour through the house, led by none other than its general manager. The insight provided was fantastic, and it went deep, also behind the scenes, to their in-house production…
e.g. of sausages and cured meat…
…or in their bakery.