Forget about those frozen, fake fruit-filled pastries you’ll find with a doughboy on the box. That’s not real apple strudel, not by a mile! The tradition of Apple Strudel has been around in Central Europe since the 18th century, originating in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Filled with cooked apples, sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes raisins, the pastry is made of unleavened dough that’s kneaded beforehand by pounding the dough onto the table. The pastry’s composition was influenced by all of the regions and cultures that made up the Empire at the time, which may be why the strudel is named after the German word for “whirlpool”: it’s the European melting pot pastry!
Try an apple strudel today in your own melting pot–New York City. There are tons of Central European restaurants around the city that offer an authentic apple strudel, just like they make it back in Germany (or Austria, or Hungary…) And though it may not be easy to get to, fringe neighborhoods like Glendale offer the best of the best: little restaurants and diners tucked away from the Zagats and Frommers of the world to give you authentic, home-cooked food from nearly every country you can think of. Zum Stammitsch is one of those restaurants: the German eatery is one of Queens’s best kept secrets. Their savory dishes like sauerbraten and knockwurst are rich and flavorful, and the atmosphere of the restaurant–not to mention their large selection of German beers–transports you right to Bavaria. But everyone here’s talking about their desserts, particularly the apple strudel, which is made with apples, chopped walnuts, and spices, and served warm with a scoop of ice cream. The strudel is crispy on the outside but warm and gooey on the inside, with the rich taste of cooked apples all throughout the pastry. If you’re looking for the no-nonsense genuine Bavarian apple strudel, the trip might be a bit of a hike, but Zum Stammitsch will satisfy that craving like no one else.
6946 Myrtle Ave, Glendale
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Warm apple strudel. I took a bite. I dropped my fork. It was so damn good I dropped my fork. I love apples so this was perfect. I will be back here. Veggies and fiber be damned. I need some meat in my mouth now. (that’s what she said.)”–Eugene L.
“Decorated like an authentic Bavarian Inn, with rich, dark wood, stained glass windows, an enormous moose head and classic beer steins on display, The chefs are three wonderful women who prepare hearty, traditional food like the house specialty, Goulash Soup (YUMMY)- a rich braise of beef and spices. The Sauerbraten is prepared in a sweet and sour beef sauce with two very light baseball size potato dumplings. Desserts, brought in from a German bakery, include apple strudel which is crisp, hot and filled with apples, ground walnuts and spice. Top it off with vanilla ice cream and you’re yodeling.”–Mike B.
For some people, however, nothing tastes better than when it’s served to you in the poshest borough of them all–Manhattan. And for the museum-goer in the know (and the discerning strudel aficionado), there’s no better museum cafe than Cafe Sabarsky. (It sure as hell beats the Met museum’s subterranean cafeteria.) Elegant and tasteful, Cafe Sabarsky gets such high marks as an eatery in its own right that the New York Times wagered that visitors to its home museum, the Neue Galerie, may zip through the gallery rooms just to get to their delicious brunches. I highlighted the cafe way back in January on Chocolate Cake Day, and while I don’t like to use restaurants more than once, I can’t leave National Apple Strudel Day without mentioning theirs. Although the Cafe, much like the Galerie itself, specializes in German and Austrian fare, the pastry chef here is French, and his training makes for a lighter, fluffier strudel than you’ll find in traditional German bakeries. Served with a topping of homemade whipped cream, it’s an elegant dessert that fits perfectly in with a Sunday full of gallery-hopping and classy Upper East Side shopping. Cafe Sabarsky is as high-brow as an apple strudel will ever get.
Neue Galerie, 1048 5th Ave
“The final pastry in the drop-dead category is the cafe’s apple strudel, which, when it is good, somehow manages to rise above the rest, not easy for an apple strudel to do. My three samplings have convinced me that when Mr. Decrauzat uses very tart apples, the dessert reaches sublime heights. He achieves an ideal balance of tartness and sweetness, with just the right proportion of raisins and walnuts. Blander, sweeter apples bring the strudel down a notch. On all three tries, the pastry was perfect, flaky and crackling outside, just slightly gooey inside.”–The New York Times
“Normally when you have such delicious desserts as Sabarsky’s Sacher torte or its chocolate marzipan cake, you wouldn’t bother with the strudel. But this apple strudel is perfect – the flaky, nutty crust and the tangy apple filling blend beautifully. Sabarsky’s pastry chef is French, after all, which may explain why this strudel is light, elegant and superior to the leaden specimens in most places. (There is also a sugar-free apple strudel for diabetics.)”–The NY Daily News
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“What we had: Apple Strudel, Marzipan Ring Cake, Green Tea and Hot Chocolate. I’m a Marzipan-aholic, so the ring cake was all my idea. My bro had spent a semester in Vienna a couple of years ago and hadn’t had the chance to get Apple Strudel since, so that was a must order. The strudel was delicious! The apples were perfectly tart and the pastry was yummy and crispy.”–Corinne M.
“Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel)! Oh boy, oh boy! It’s dusted with powdered sugar, served with whipped cream on the side, and guaranteed to make you drool.”–Stephanie S.
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