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Salzburg trip report September 2011 (long)

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Salzburg trip report September 2011 (long)

_emilie_ | Oct 1, 2011 06:47 AM

We just got back from a trip from Salzburg (which continued south through the Dolomites and on to Verona). I got a lot of good leads here from the ‘Hounds, but the area in general is pretty sparsely covered, so I thought I should post some updates to places previously mentioned.

The food here wasn’t my favorite, but we certainly had some very good things, and I’m very glad to have spent time here. I will say, I have never been in any city that felt as safe as Salzburg, it was like a parallel universe. I would send my mom here, my little sisters, anyone.

Blaue Gans:
This was our first restaurant in town, and one of the best. They do elegant versions of Austrian classics, and the service was excellent and very helpful. Our waiter suggested pairing with a St. Laurent 2006 Heinrich from Vienna that was quite good.
We had (and please excuse my bad spelling or translations with the German):
**Suppe Eierschwammerl – a chanterelle cream soup with cottage cheese ravioli was beyond delicious. I had a hard time sharing with the SO actually! I would love to have this dish again. Outstanding flavor and texture.
VSP tafelspitz (?) – a carpaccio of veal with fried calves head, which was good but not great; we wanted more of the calves head and for the elements to work together a bit better
Tafelspitz – basically a deconstructed pot roast with creamed spinach, apples, carrots, turnips and horseradish sauce. Again this was ok but not great – we felt we needed to try the local classic.
Weiner schnitzel – I’m not sure I’m the best judge here, as I have never really loved a weiner schnitzel, but we were trying to sample all the classics. It was probably one of the best versions I’ve had though, and I loved the very tart cranberry sauce alongside. Austrians definitely know how to do tart fruits! If you have been to Edi & the Wolf in Alphabet City, their version is pretty close to this.
**Mohnnudeln – this was described as a “granny style” pastry on our English menu (shameful, we don’t speak German), so I had to have this. It was stellar – the best and certainly most memorable dessert of the trip. It was a collection of little cookie-sized, finger shaped cakes, rolled in poppyseeds, to be dipped into a sauce of tart braised plums. The plum sauce was beyond compare; I could eat this every day for the rest of my life!

Café Classic:
It can be woefully hard to find a good breakfast in Europe if you’re coming from the US (or England). There is one to be had here – sort of the best continental breakfast you could hope for, though not a destination in itself. Apparently this also used be Mozart’s house.
We had:
A plate of ham, salami, cheese, a very fresh fluffy roll with a nice crust, some brown bread, a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg and coffee, which was all very nice.
A plate with a flakey croissant, the same nice roll, marmalade, the same egg and coffee.
The SO also ordered some fancypants Mozart Melange coffee drink, which was far too sweet and creamy and not enough coffee for him, but might appeal to others. It was the sort of thing that’s topped with whipped cream, so if you’re missing your beloved Starbucks…

Zum Wilder Mann:
Be careful how you order here. Mine was downright bad, but the SO had a lovely traditional plate of meats. I had a creamy mushroom soup (it was mushroom season) with my first of the Austrian giant bread dumplings. I really do not like these dumplings, way too dense, way too much bread, not enough flavor. Think Matzo ball, but with leavened bread. Plus the soup was pretty miserable – like canned Campbells. The SO however had a plate of sausage, roast pork, rolled ham, potatoes, sauerkraut and unfortunately one of these dumplings. His meats and sauerkraut were very good (at least next to the soup).

Magazin:
If you want something a bit more modern, Magazin is a decent choice. We weren’t blown away, but it was a solid meal, the environs were hip and service was excellent, with very good wine pairings. It’s not cheap though! I will say there were some very affordable and interesting by-the-glass options if you just want to sample their wines (they run a wine store on the side).
Previous posters had mentioned being disappointed that it was originally set up to be a big communal table but is no longer so, and while there were several separate tables outside (all full) when we arrived, sans reservation, we actually were sat at a communal table inside the venue. Personally I don’t find anything special about communal tables (I live in downtown NYC where the table spacing is so tight its basically communal everywhere you go), but if you really want one, its there!
We started with an amuse of a raw sardine on an avocado mash, with a tomato tapenade-topped crisp. The sardine here was very nice, and if you are familiar with Alton Brown’s diet favorite sardine and avocado toast, you know how well these two work together.
We then had:
Ganseleberterrine – which was goose liver with plums, brioche and honey, paired with a sweet Riesling Reserve Wolfgang Seher 2007 that was nicely complex and sherrylike in the finish. The terrine elements failed to come together as a dish – they were tasty alone, but the plum OR the honey would completely obscure the liver when eaten together.
Jakobsmuschel – scallops with fennel, garlic, cashews, pomelo and black sesame paired with a Gruner Vetliner Gebling Richard Walzer 2009 that unfortunately was meh. The dish itself was overpowered by the toasted garlic, and needed more pomelo for balance, but definitely had potential and was an interesting combination.
Hirschrucken mit Trauben – venison with grapes, celery puree and chanterelles, paired with a Pinot Noir Gernot Heinrich 2006, which was actually a fantastic pairing – I would definitely have this wine again (fruity, smoky, honeyed, no tannins). The venison was certainly good, perfectly cooked, but definitely too predictable considering the aspirations of this place, and a bit too sweet.
*Kabeljau mit Sumac – cod with sumac, radicchio, pickled onion, creamy cheese sauce and ravioli with treviso and… beef? We aren’t sure! This was the standout dish – really unusual with the sumac, wonderfully savory, certainly something you won’t find elsewhere. This was paired with a Weissburgunder S Philipp Wittmann 2006 that was just ok.
*Schwarzbeernocken mit eis – blueberry pancakes with sour cream ice cream. This was delicious, and thankfully not too sweet, with more wonderfully tart berries and really fine sour ice cream.
Plus an extra complementary dessert: an apricot foam (I think) over grapefruit sorbet topped with dried shaved olives (!). This was also lovely and very inventive with the olives.

St Peter’s Stiftskeller:
Charlemagne ate here, or so they’d have you think, so it’s certainly old and with a lot of atmosphere. We sat outside in the atrium under an arch cut into the side of the mountain. The food was just ok.
We had:
Kohlrabi soup with a fish meatball – the fishball was very good but the kohlrabi soup was nothing special.
A progression of gazpacho with celery foam; trout and salmon on what seemed like a savory horseradish cheesecake with salmon roe; polenta with cheese and bacon crumble; and mustard ice cream with cherry and ham. I thought the best thing here was the trout and salmon on horseradish cheesecake. The SO loved the mustard ice cream thing, I but thought it was too much. The gazpacho was very well spiced. The only problem with the polenta was that it was too small. Overall I’m not sure we’d order this again.
*Venison with chanterelles and spatzle – this had a wonderful warm spice to it, like it had a touch of north African cinnamon and nutmeg, plus the spatzle with green onions and butter was delicious. The venison itself was “well done” in little strips (perhaps tougher than I would have liked), very different from the perfect medium rare venison steak at Magazin, but the flavor of the sauce made up for it.
Salzburger Nockerl with raspberry sauce – I felt we had to try this, but it was way too large for just two people. Its like a cross between a giant meringue and an angelfood cake. Not something I would have again, unless it came in a tiny tiny portion (the flavor and texture were fine, just too much of one thing).

Augustinerbrau – we only drank here, but I can recommend the garden as a nice place to drink on an afternoon with friends. The beer itself was just ok. I enjoyed my beer more at Batzenhausel in Bolzano, but I fully admit to not knowing a thing about beer. I can recommend taking the elevator up to the top of the modern art museum then taking the very short walk along the ridge down to the brewery (lovely views).

Carpe Diem Finest Fingerfood:
The name of this place cracked me up from the beginning, but its pretty spot on. Finest? Not sure, but certainly good nibbles with your drinks, tapas style. Nothing you can’t get here in NYC I’m sure, save the kombucha cocktails which I am SURE will be the next hotness in Brooklyn. They were also pushing kombucha as a chic cocktail drink at Magazin so it is TOTALLY the hotness.
We had:
A hamburger cone (yes they serve lots of things in cones) with cheese, bacon, ketchup and fries. The fries were excellent Mc Donalds style fries. My only complaint there was the very petite serving of said fries. The burgers (as there were two miniature patties) were also good, as good as a burger the size of a gnocchi can be. The shredded lettuce and mayo you might expect on a burger was buried inside the cone.
*Char with risotto – this was very tasty, NOT in a cone, but again a rather petite serving meant to go with your drink
*Jamon, mango and manchego on toast – also a tasty tapas morsel, not in a cone
A “wellness caipirinha” – again my lack of German getting me into trouble, I thought it was actually going to be alcoholic, but it contained only Kombucha, beetroot and lime, and was pretty tasty until I realized it contained no cachaça. After this we had some Martinis and a raspberry Tom Collins to guarantee the content (Tom Collins is the same in German, and bartenders universally seem to understand Martini :) )

When I get my other Dolomites and Verona trip reports posted on the Italy board, I’ll add the links below in case anyone is interested in a similar journey. Thanks to everyone who previously posted about Salzburg for all of your insight!

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