Tag Archives: Austria

Des Moines Dates: Strudl Haus

Ever since I’d heard about the Austrian restaurant Strudl Haus opening, I’ve wanted to try it. My tastebuds were craving the flavors we experienced on our Austrian honeymoon in 2010, and I’d heard it was a delightful spot.

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This morning, Joe and I decided to take advantage of Emmett’s playdate and make a day-date for brunch, with baby carrier in tow. What a difference five and a half years can make in a marriage! While we aren’t currently in a position to book a flight to Salzburg, it’s a mini-escape to hop on Indianola Avenue for a taste of Europe on Des Moines’ near south side.

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The small, sunshine-colored cafe opens into a compact dining room of unexpected elegance. A case of pastries catches the eye as you walk in – convenient if you’re just swinging by for a simple breakfast or dessert treat.

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We navigated the narrow room and took a seat in the burgundy-upholstered back booth, where we were quickly greeted. The crowd was an mix of couples and families with well-behaved small children who seemed excited about an after-Church treat.

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For starters, we split Nutella crepes, and for brunch I opted for the omelette with sausage and Joe went for the Strudl Haus eggs (served over easy and smothered in hollendaise sauce). The food was delicious, but the little details – like the coffee service on silver trays and petite chandeliers on the ceiling – made the meal feel special. We reminisced about all of the food we enjoyed on our honeymoon, and were in-and-out in about an hour.

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The spot impresses me as super-versatile — as perfect for a weekday morning coffee and croissant as I imagine it would be for one of their more expensive themed wine dinners. Since Strudl Haus specials change frequently, it would be smart to check their Facebook page or call to see what the weekly offering may be. Prost!

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Letter from my former self

A mysterious letter arrived at my mom’s house a few weeks ago. It was, she said, addressed to me, in my own handwriting. But the return address was of someone named Linda in Maine.

I told her it couldn’t possibly actually be from me, because I had no recollection of writing myself a letter and have lived in Des Moines for the past five years. My mom insisted the handwriting was my own, so I asked her to open it.

She was right. I wrote this letter to myself eight years ago, the summer after I graduated from high school, as a freshly minted 18-year old abroad on a European Adventure. I’d embarked on a transformative three week trip with Girl Scouts (when you’re 18, scouting becomes cool again) and our leader had held onto the letters until this summer. It was exciting and funny to see my advice to myself:

I posted about the letter on Facebook and tagged my best friends from the trip. Julia and Jenna. They’d also received letters and, to my surprise, Jenna wrote back to let me know she was traveling through Des Moines the following week on her way to Colorado. Eight years later, inspired by this letter, she was on my doorstep! We stayed up late crafting cards to send to Linda thanking her for the blast from the past and updating her on our lives.

Jenna is a traveling minstrel of sorts, living her dream as a singer/songwriter. Her optimism, enthusiasm and sense of adventure have only intensified in the years since we sat on the side of a mountain, me teaching her how to knit and sailed in the North sea, her leading us in singing sea shanties.

The whole experience was a lovely reminder to me of what remains important in this world.

I couldn’t help scanning in a page from my scrapbook of the trip.

This experience has such a special place in my heart that when Joe and I went on our honeymoon hike, we accidentally re-created it by visiting many of the same stops!

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