Sometimes you can't beat tradition. While it's great that our cities are now peppered with ultra-slick nouveau style cuisine, classic and simple food will always have a place in our hearts too. Which is why we're taking a look at one of Europe's favourite dishes – the wiener schnitzel.
Commonplace it may be, but when cooked well and served with style – like they do at Zum Brünnstein and Bötzow Privat – you can't deny the star power of this breaded delight. But how did this unassuming dish stand the test of time? From fist fights to feature films, schnitzel has a colourful past.
A dish worth fighting for?
Many countries have staked their claim for bragging rights of the wiener schnitzel recipe. With its crisp golden crumb and larger-than-life portion sizes, we can totally understand why. While it's now generally accepted as a traditional Viennese dish, its origins have been traced back to multiple European countries.
The first recorded modern reference was in a German cookbook from 1831, implying it's part of our heritage. Not to be outdone, the Italians think it was archived in Latin all the way back in 1148. The Austrians on the other hand disregard both these claims and firmly believe the much-loved dish was cultivated by their own fair hands.
And so, the fight goes on. But before you break out the boxing gloves, let's remember why the wiener schnitzel is so in demand in the first place.
Wiener schnitzel, the film star
No, that's not someone you missed at the Oscars. This dish is a star in its own right.
While it might not win awards for its looks – it's no Marilyn Monroe – the schnitzel nevertheless made its film debut in the award-winning family favourite The Sound of Music. Here's a little reminder: 'door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles'.
It's no 'five dollar shake' from Pulp Fiction, but nevertheless this mention elevated the schnitzel's popularity and concreted Austria as its home in popular consciousness – even if nobody serves schnitzel and noodles. Zum Brünnstein use a supporting cast of crispy roasted potatoes, sweet cranberries and a fresh, mixed salad – with a thick wedge of lemon ready for squeezing.
Simple but sumptuous
Without the frills of modern cuisine, the wiener schnitzel gives chefs the chance to show off their purest cooking skills using only veal, flour, eggs, breadcrumbs and butter. The result? Juicy, buttery veal within a crisp, golden coat that's enough to make any mouth water.
And that's the reason why Bötzow Privat believe simpler is better when it comes to serving up this classic dish. Rather, they present their Wiener Schnitzel traditionally with a zingy and crisp potato salad that, while utterly delicious, lets the wiener schnitzel keep its place as the leading lady.