After moving to a different country, city, place, whichever of those it is, there are always a lot of firsts. It takes a bit of time before memories have been created that make a new place feel like home. Over the past few months, there have been plenty of “first-time” experiences for me. One of those, an important one, was having visitors over. And for around 1.5 months, I was lucky enough to have a house full of visitors. After I had my sister and her family over, my parents came for their first time to Vienna. I took them to the part of Vienna that, after this short time, has become one of my favourite parts: the vineyards that are around the city itself. I learned that Vienna is, at least in Europe, the only capital that has significant wine production within its city limits. Clearly, that makes it a must to go and explore. With my parents I did part of a hike that I really enjoy. We took a bus to go to the viewpoint of Kahlenberg and walked down to Nussdorf. The route first goes through a forest. It’s not just beautifully green in the spring, but the forest floor is covered with all types of wild flowers. The feeling of nature in the city was only increased by seeing a snake. After the forest comes the best part of the walk: the vineyards. When you look to the one side, you just see vineyards and hills. When you look to the other side, there is the city below you, spreading further around the Donau river than you might expect when you are down there in the city. On the way, we had to stop for a glass of wine. Because you cannot just walk between the vineyards, there are also many “Heuriger”. These are typical wine taverns, where you can find local wines and fitting snacks. The word itself refers not just to the place, but also to the wine of the current vintage that is served there as well. In my favourite place the tables and chairs are right in between the grape vines. And what is better than sitting between the vines, enjoying the view over Vienna with a glass of local white wine and good company? Nothing, if you ask me!
Of course, for me an important part of having guests over is not just showing them around, but also having dinner together. One of the dishes I ate with my parents is something that is not new to me, but that I had slightly forgotten about. As for my parents fennel is not always easy to find where they live and it is easy to get in Vienna, we did have this roasted fennel salad a couple of times together. In the end, between all those new experiences, it is also nice to revisit old favourites.
Roasted fennel and orange salad
This is a good dish to eat by itself with some bread as a starter or lunch. But also goes very well as a side dish to fish or grilled meat. I add some feta cheese sometimes as well.
Ingredients (for 2)
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 1 orange
- Around 16 black olives
- 1 small red onion
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
Preheat your oven to 200°C.
Most fennel bulbs still have some of the delicate, bright green fennel fronds on the bulb. If so, remove the fennel fronds and set them aside.
Trim the stalks off close to the bulb and slice the bulb in halves lengthwise. Trim the root part to take away any hard bits. Cut the halves in thin slices.
Put the fennel slices onto a baking tray and add a splash, around a tablespoon, of olive oil, a good pinch of salt and some black pepper. Mix this well and spread the fennel slices out over the baking tray. Place in the oven and roast for around 20 minutes. After this time, the fennel should be soft but still have some bite.
While the fennel is roasting, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Use a sharp knife to first chop off the top and bottom of the orange. Then cut the skin of the orange off the flesh. With the same sharp knife, cut the orange slices from in between the membranes separating them. It is best to do this above a bowl, so that you keep the orange juice that will come out. Add the orange slices to your bowl with orange juice. Slice the red onion into very thin half rings and add to the bowl as well. Finally, when your olives have stones, remove them and chop the olives in halves. Add to the orange and onion.
Once the fennel has been roasted, let it cool down a little and mix the fennel through the orange slices, olives and onion. Add another splash of olive oil and season with some extra salt and pepper if needed.
Transfer the roasted fennel to a nice serving plate and decorate with the fennel fronds. Enjoy!