Austria/Czech Republic

Esszimmer {Salzburg} – The Sound of Silence

Esszimmer VenisonMemories…  are as fuzzy as the excluded pictures, hence a short post about our big Austrian splurge last week.  Birthday girl deserves the best and she got the best… the city of Salzburg, Austria has to offer.  A beautiful looking place, with beautiful waitresses, and a beautiful chef comes out to greed us smiling.  The last and only time a chef came out to greet us at a Michelin establishment was many moons ago in south of France.  Though I’m fairly certain he was under some sort of influence.  He gave me a big a hug, kissed me in the lips and said “I know it was you Margaux, I know it was you”.  Thats how I know.  Anyway, we were off to a rocking start at Esszimmer, surprisingly quiet for a Michelin star.  We were almost the last to leave

You always inherit a certain risk when you choose a place as such with no online menu in a foreign country.  I got a few clues here and there but nothing prepared me to this menu.  Nothing like I’ve ever seen really.  Four or Five various fixed mostly 5 course menus including a vegetarian menu, a seafood menu, an “Esszimmer” menu which was essentially a different seafood menu including one meat dish (highlight alert).  And there was another bigger, around 8 courser for 135 Euros (the rest around 85).  The only confusing part was that every single dish in all those menus was priced individually as well, and those prices didnt have any sort of structure.  Something that sounded like apps were priced almost like their main counterparts.  It made almost zero sense to order individual dishes here.

The wine menu was a fun read.  It essentially included all the Piedmont appointments I had to cancel last year due to overeating.  Didnt dot down the name we chose but it was crisp, dry and Rieslingy.

As for the food, nothing was really mind blowing, but for the most part the dishes were playful, creative, and artistic.  Silky raw trout with trout roe and shaved radish swimming in ultra light potato cream.  A delicate sweet Pike Perch seared to perfection with a sourkraft marmoulade.  Crayfish spring rolls with sweetbread was an interesting combination.  My favorite item was a tender, earthy venison that came with a rich supporting cast.  Dessert was forgettable except for the complimentary Sacher tort for the birthday girl.  Nice touch, nice meal!

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Český Krumlov and the Shoe Shine Fairy

Český KrumlovTwo hours by car, 700 years by feel.  175 km south of Prague lies this UNESCO World Heritage beauty.  The old town is inside a horseshoe bend shape surrounded by a river, and to view it from the castle was priceless.   It was almost like stepping inside one of those fairy tale books I read to Mrs Z sometimes (Its a strange fetish but I wouldnt mention to her, she’s very sensitive about that).  To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, something rather strange peculiar mystical happened to me while we were exploring the old town, and I got the picture to prove it.  I got my shoes shined by the shoe shine fairy!  I was told it was part of a dare of a bridal party or something.  Liars! or just jealous really. I got dirty, my shoes needed a cleaning, and the fairy, a beautiful blond fairy with a magic stick the shape of a di@#$%0 (true.  Cant post that picture) came to the rescue.  End of story.  I believe!

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Pulker’s Heuriger – Slow Fooding Near Vienna

Pulker's Heuriger FeastA Heuriger – not quite an Enoteca, not quite a quinta, far from a restaurant.  Its a Heuriger!  An Austrian wine tavern owned by a wine grower to showcase his wine and allow his guests to experience something the Germans and Austrians call Gemutlichkeit… a place where everyone knows your name and where you can leave all your troubles behind.  Unless your neighbor and her annoying dog got the same idea and frequent the same place.  If that’s the case, perhaps its time to forgive and forget and leave a little “gift” in the pooches Schüssel.

Pulker's Heuriger inA true Heuriger may also serve some menuless food.  “Do you also want food?” “Yes”… now that’s the kind of decisionless menu I can get behind.  An array of homemade spreads, made in this home, not other homes.  Fresh vegetables, and fresh kills brought in by the local hunter a few days ago.  All delivered to your table until there’s no more room to put your ellbogen.  There was a delicately fresh goat cheese, black pudding that could convert you BP hater [insert family relative].  Porky fat spread that you will be hard pressed to find in the states.  There was a cheese spread infused with onions and paprika, salty ham, and pickles with just the right balance.  And just when you thought things can not get any better than this, there she comes.  Roasted pork belly so tender you can cut it with a dirty stare, along with crackling so good, its worthy of a dentist appointment

Pulker’s Heuriger is right off the main road in the village of Rührsdorf in picturesque Wachau Valley. Google maps shows it inside the village, but its actually on the main road, right before the turn.  Couple this one with a visit to beautiful Dürnstein on the other side of the river.  For the first time in history perhaps, those monthly travel magazines paid off, coming up with a nice and timely tip.

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