Little Britain in Millenium City
Yes, the UK voted to leave Europe and yes, it’s toe-curlingly embarrassing, but as a Brit living in Vienna, I now know that if I ever need that essential jar of Radnor’s “individual hand-cut, heart shaped Sicilian Blood Orange Marmalade flecked with edible gold leaf” I need only make a short trip to the British Pop Up store in the Millennium City shopping centre, open till August 27.
As someone who voted to remain, the thought of my solitary island, with its tail between its legs, gently pawing at the icy hand of the continent makes me wince. But, straight off the back of Farage’s self-proclaimed “UK independence day,” at a time when Britain’s relationship with Austria is perhaps changing irrevocably, I can take comfort in a gesture, however small, from the Anglophiles still out there with a faint pulse, at least attempting to kiss and make-up with their offerings of all things affiliated with Her Majesty.
Similar to most Britons abroad, The British Pop Up was taken caught off guard by the referendum’s outcome, but bears it stoically, keeping calm and selling on. Their ceremonious salute of Anglo-Austrian entrepreneurial collaboration draws obvious parallels with the 19th-century obsession with the Kuriositätenkabinett (cabinet of curiosities). Whilst the British Pop Up doesn’t supply an encyclopaedic selection of ornamental antiquities, historical relics, taxidermy squirrels or other specimens from exotic places, it does, however, offer an impressive selection of preserves, bric-a-brac, crafts, perfumes, face creams, fresh fish, (yes, you heard right) and bespoke British fashions.
Often (ahem) unashamedly projecting propagandizing imperial magnificence with their juxtaposition of disparate yet weird and wonderful objects, their Kuriositätenkabinett provided a space for solace and retreat in contemplation. At times cheesier than a wheel of Stilton and as clichéd as a Burberry-print cap, it provides a cure to post-Brexit blues, far from the shores of fair Albion.
The cup that cheers
For one thing, they can supply you with all the rudimentary essentials to emulate the nation’s centuries-old drinking ritual: (No, I’m not talking about Gin, although obviously it’s a strong contender) TEA! A brew, a cuppa, call it what you will, the British Pop Up offers afternoon tasting sessions and sells all the requisite tea paraphernalia. So, if you’re willing to let the absence of biscuits slide, (tea biscuit-dunking is an art in itself) and you still haven’t found the perfect brew, look out for organic “Higher Living Tea,” (the 2016 recipient of “The Queen’s Awards For Enterprise in International Trade,” no less) which promises to pooh-pooh the unrefined simplicity of “builder’s tea” with its selection of 23 refreshing blends.
Failing that, they also offer ‘Equinox Kombucha’ tea a.k.a. ‘the elixir of long life,’ a fermented, unpasteurized drink, loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is the perfect antidote to that lingering, bitter can’t-we-just-be-friends taste you can’t seem to get rid of lately.
Or perhaps you need the healing properties of Grimsby’s finest selection of sustainably sourced “Saucy Fish” products? Yeah, a sea bass with beurre blanc dressing ought to do the trick.
Or maybe you can harvest a morsel of hope from The Raw Chocolate Company’s produce. After all, a spoon-full of sugar did always help the medicine go down.
Or, as a last resort, just a simple wander around the pop up marvelling at all the posters depicting British music giants Queen, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and Elton John could help re-kindle a sense of temporarily extinguished pride – even if your British citizenship does make you feel ‘Like a candle in the wind.”