Cafe Scene: Viennese corner of Tel Aviv

For NIS 95 per couple, you and your taste buds can be transported to the finest tearooms of Austria.

Chef Karina Rijaz at Hilton TA 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Chef Karina Rijaz at Hilton TA 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It was nothing if not surreal.
There I was in a kitchen in the cavernous bowels of the Tel Aviv Hilton, draped in a white apron and rolling out strudel dough in the company of some of the best-known Hebrew-language food writers, a jolly chap from the Austrian embassy and sundry chefs, sous-chefs and managers.
The happening, dreamed up by the Hilton’s head of PR, Motti Verses, was to promote a new venture at the hotel that will run until the end of March. For NIS 95 per couple, you can sit in the lobby of the prestigious Tel Aviv hotel and partake of some of the luscious pastries that are normally served at the Vienna Hilton, the recipes for which were brought over this week by its noted pastry chef, Karina Rijaz.
The only difference is that you will be looking out at the blue Mediterranean and not the snow-covered streets of Vienna while enjoying genuine apple strudel, Kaiserschmarrn, Esterhazy, Sachertorte and all the other famous delights of the Viennese kitchen. A hot drink is included in the price.
Our experience began with a glass of champagne in the lobby, which set the mood for what was to come. We had been invited to take part in a workshop on how to prepare real apple strudel. Every participant was provided with a worktop space furnished with chef’s jackets, pinafores, a piece of dough wrapped in cling film and a bowl of prepared filling – apples, cinnamon and raisins.
We rolled and stretched the dough and made it into a strudel, and everyone put distinguishing marks on their creation so they would recognize it when they came out of the oven – which was actually a waste of time because we never saw them again.
Instead, we were invited back into the lobby for a cup of tea and another eye-popping selection of amazing cakes and traditional Austrian desserts that Rijaz had produced. I did my duty and tasted them all. Klimt torte, named for the Austrian painter, is the house specialty of the Vienna Hilton and is a delicious creation made of butter, eggs, sugar and hazelnuts.
The hotel provided us with the recipe, although an actual cake would have been equally appreciated.
Rijaz said this was her first visit to Israel. She had spent most of the week in the Hilton kitchens working on her creations and imparting their secrets to the local pastry cooks who will carry on the work.
She said she was hoping to see something of the country before she returned to Austria.
This latest initiative of the Tel Aviv Hilton is an attractive one that will appeal to people of all ages – the young and unattached meeting for a date, the older and more sophisticated enjoying a break from routine.
A cup of tea or coffee, a selection of mouthwatering cakes and desserts and, best part, a chance to enjoy the comings and goings in the lobby. What more could anyone ask? 
Vienna in Tel Aviv will be available on Sundays to Thursdays from noon until midnight, and Saturdays after Shabbat. Lobby, Hilton Hotel, Independence Park, Tel Aviv.