Home match: An evening at Taubenkobel

Back in god’s own country: The Burgenland. My homecountry not only offers beautiful nature, great wine and beautiful people (hmhm) but also amazing kitchen: One of Austria’s most traditional high end restaurants is situated in Schützen, a small town near the big city of Eisenstadt. After some years, I visited The Taubenkobel again.

Walter Eselböck is a pioneer of gourmet cuisine in Austria, practising regional and seasonal kitchen for many years. His family has spread round the Neusiedlersee and built a solid empire of gastronomical enterprises, with a lot of love for details. The base of all this is „The Taubenkobel“ (german for dovecote), now run by Eselböck and his son in law Alain Weissgerber. After some fuss about copying another restaurant’s concept, I was very thrilled how it would end on the plate. And to anticipate: It ended well.

The building itself is a lovely, renovated old house, in the typical architecture of Burgenland (slim, long houses with two wings and a garden in between). Beautifully lit, you can also glimpse into the kitchen from the outside:

Outside

Outside

Inside

Inside

The inside is very nice too, tough the structure of the building (long, long) is not so optimal for a restaurant. Anyway – the garden is a real jewel, if you go there in spring or summer it is the best time. The personnel was very friendly, relaxed but attentive and looks like from an early science fiction movie, wearing tight jeans, grey uniform shirts and converse shoes.

We were welcomed by the very friendly (and cute) patron Mrs. Eselböck-Weissgerber, who brought us our table. The menue is fixed, you can only choose between 2 hours (108€) and 2.5 hours (128€). An extra piece of paper explains their philosophy (mmmm….rather tiring to be honest, why does everybody have to have a philosophy these days ?). The couvert is 6€, but offers a lot – because „the portions here are not really that big“ as Mrs. Eselböck smilingly added.

The offer different kinds of drink pairings: A „normal“ wine pairing (69€), a „special“ wine pairing (99€) and a non alcoholic one (32€). The drinks are presented by a very friendly, ressourceful and talkative sommelier. I chose the „special“ pairing with a focus on organic and orange wines…well, more about that later. I was givan a wine glass – „my wine glass for the evening, made by a special winemaker from Slovenia“ that I kept for alle the different wines. They also serve the food on pottery made by an artist nearby.

But no to the acutally important thing: The food.

Amuse bouche one - Caramelized popcorn, prosciutto, salami, lardo

Amuse bouche one – Caramelized popcorn, prosciutto, salami, lardo

The first amouse bouche was patchy: I didn’t like the popcorn (tasted like everywhere else, moreover sweet popcorn is wrong), the croatian pršut was exceptionally good.

Homemade bread, 3 kinds of butter, amaranth cracker

Homemade bread, 3 kinds of butter, amaranth cracker

The bread was just AMAZING – they make it themselves and it came freshly baked. It was fermented, with leaves in it and instead of water they used red wine: one of the best breads I’ve ever had. The butter was amazing too (normal, caramel-butter (!!!) and mangalitza lard). On the side there was velvet salt from Halstatt and a rather boring but beautiful amaranth cracker.

Wild carp and sloe

Wild carp and sloe

The last amuse bouche was exceptionally great – a thing layer of sloe-paper covered a small cylinder of raw wild carp fillet. The carp was perfectly fresh with clean taste, a high quality product, and harmonized well with the fruity acidity of the sloe.

Treviso - Mustard - Baby lamb

Treviso – Mustard – Baby lamb

Then the first course came (btw: you see me personal glass, you see it ?!!)…the red radicchio was stuffed with baby lamb sweetbread and neck meat, that harmonized very well with the bitterness of the leaf. Around it there was lamb-jus with mustard seeds – the dense sauce was very well pimped with the nutty taste of the seeds, that complemented very well with the radiccio and sweetbread too. A great start !

Parsley - Gugumuck - Marrow

Parsley – Gugumuck – Marrow

Real eye candy: Escargots (from the Viennese producer Gugumuck) with fried bone marrow, presented in an empty bone, with parsley cream on top and some escargot caviar. Very intense taste, nice texture contrast (soft escargots, crunchy marrow) – but a lot (really a lot) of garlic, that kind of killed the dish. The caviar was interesting, it tasted a bit like earth – but in the good way.

Black cabbage - Tench - Buttermilk

Black cabbage – Tench – Buttermilk

For this dish, I had very low expectations – but what a surprise! The green, slightly bitter and nutty notes of the black cabbage were intensified by nut splitters. The perfectly confit tench was just great, again picking up the nutty flavors of the vegetables. Those aromas were balanced by thickened butter milk, that added a creamy dimension to the picture and some whey around it. A very complex, yet approachable and wonderful tasting dish!

Pumpkin seed oil gelée

Pumpkin seed oil gelée

The gelée as an entrement didn’t fit quite in. Very oily, intense pumpkin seed taste. Not so much mine (with some vanilla ice though….).

Wild garlic root - Pig - Yoghurt

Wild garlic root – Pig – Yoghurt

Normally the meat courses are always my favorites. This time though, the tench could not be topped. Two different cuts (chin and neck) were presented on a very nice sauce. The chin had way too much shallots on top. The roots were a very nice twist on the dish.

Sorbet

Sorbet

Then we waited for 45 minutes….until the sorbet came. Sorrel sorbet. Well, ok.

Chervil - Milk - Chickweed

Chervil – Milk – Chickweed

A very interesting dessert, thickened milk was combined with a chickweed sauce and chervil on top. Very refreshing and unusual, though not so my thing.

Boskop apple - Biscuit - Caramel

Boskop apple – Biscuit – Caramel

Another dessert option was an apple strudel deconstructed: Very nice biscuit, thick caramel and intense apple pieces. Very nice, but not so much out of the ordinary.

The only thing I was unhappy with was the wine pairing – I’m very open to new experiences and I love unusual wines, but some of the wines were just not my taste, far too much acidity and too much aromas of clay and earth. Sometimes the explanations of the sommelier helped, but not always. I know these wines are rather expensive, but the 99€ would have been better invested otherwise…

After all, it was a very nice evening with high-class kitchen in a very nice and romantic ambiente. The restaurant offers amazing taste experiences, though being sometimes a bit too chichi with all their philosophical pottery, cutlery and the like.

Inner values

For a long time I’ve been striving to look more at inner values. Logically, Max Sitegl’s offal menue at Gut Purbach has been on my to-do-list ever since. I knew the restaurant from previous visits and was expecting only the best. So one sunny Thursday evening we went out to my homeland to explore the „inside“ of food.

We were welcomed warmly as always. In advance I’ve written an email with a special wish, concerning a religious dietary law, to which the team very friendly replied. They also wrote it down with our reservation and considered it without saying – thumbs up for that!

So let’s start with the tasty cover (no mini rolls this time!! :-)):

Bread with homemade sausge, olive pesto and liver pâté

Bread with homemade sausge, olive pesto and liver pâté

We chose the 10-course menu with the very well calculated wine pairing (without thinking it to the end – 10×0.125 = 1.25 litres of wine – oh my dear! – I rolled out there like a teenager from an all-you-can-drink-party). First course:

Marinated goose liver with filled raspberrys

Marinated goose liver with filled raspberrys

A real beautiful, spring-inspired start into the evening! The liver was amazingly tender, tasty and well marinated. The filling of the raspberrys was sour (lemon gelée ?) – so the dish had a very interesting balance between sweet- and sourness.

Calf kidney with meadow herbs and dijon-sauce

Calf kidney with meadow herbs and dijon-sauce

One of the absolute highlights: The soft, fatty and tender kidney had a very subtle taste. The herbs on the other hand had a very wild, bitterish and natural taste. I didn’t taste the dijon-sauce, no problem though. My wife’s favorite.

Tripe with smoked pikeperch roe and parmesan

Tripe with smoked pikeperch roe and parmesan

The tripe was good (though last time it seemed softer), I especially liked it in combination with the intenese smoked roe. I would have preferred the tripe in smaller pieces, so it was a bit chewy – on the other hand the highest possible contrast in texture to the kidney before.

Deer heart with fennel pollen and gnocchi

Deer heart with fennel pollen and gnocchi

The heart was VERY good, tasty and soft with a nice texture. The pollen gave the rather dark and heavy dish a good twist along with the (quite intense) green celery. The gnocchi were definetely wrong – small, hard potato balls 🙁

Lamb lights ("Beuschel") with butter dumpling

Lamb lights ("Beuschel") with butter dumpling

A flawlessly prepared Austrian classic – very tasty! The dumpling had a lot of butter in it – but why not?!

Pea cream with andouillette

Pea cream with andouillette

Oh my god! This was so intense. The moment the waiter brought the plate, an offaly smell surrounded us. Andouillette is a french intestine sausage, that definetely doesn’t obscure where it comes from. It was like biting directly into an animal’s intestants. The sausage was nicely grilled and had a pleasant texture. The pea cream had no chance at all, every spoon of the cream tasted like Andouillette. An experience – don’t wan’t to miss it (but also don’t want it on a regular basis…).

Glaced goat liver with pear, lentils and marjoram

Glaced goat liver with pear, lentils and marjoram

This was probably the most „pleasant“ dish of the evening. The liver was perfectly grilled, pink inside and had a very clean and fresh taste. The sauce was very harmonic. Excellent Knödel (dumpling) on top!!

Autumn schnitzel (bull testicle)

Autumn schnitzel (bull testicle)

I’ve been looking forward to this for so long…the testicles were hidden behind the euphemism „autumn schnitzel“. I didn’t expect the balls to be that big (and flat, by the way – maybe they were plated). The smell was a little bit offaly, but the taste surprisingly boring. The texture was very interesting though: Hard but in the same moment a little bit glibberish. Unfortunately the breading was kind of soft – personally I like it more crispy. After all I had 2 of them (wife refused)…poor bull 🙂

Poached calf brain on mussels and wild broccoli

Poached calf brain on mussels and wild broccoli

My personal favorite: The brain had an unbeliefable, mesmerizing texture – it was like eating a cloud! The taste was very gentle and beautiful – a nice contrast to the down-to-earth flavour of the mussels and the wild broccoli, that was very green and herbal (again, for me a little bit too much green celery).

"Poato goulash"

"Poato goulash"

Balls the second. Every time Stiegl uses quotation marks on his menue you can expect a surprise. This was his interpretation of the Austrian classic potato goulash – but this time with lamb testicles. They are much smaller than the bull’s ones. Much more firm and compact, with a pleasant lamb taste. A very nice last course (and also a reference to the public Austrian midnight goulash on weddings and parties). Nice detail: The (a little bit too hard) potatos were cut out as small balls… 🙂

Surprise dessert: Cocos mousse

Surprise dessert: Cocos mousse

By then it was around 23:00 (we started at 18:30 !)…time for puns. After a lot of balls there had to come some gender-compensation. The surprise desert had this weird shape, but tasted fresh and light – the key criterion after such a lot of food.

The offal menue was a real experience, thrilling and interesting! It’s incredible what Max Stiegl does in his small (!) kitchen. This evening we waited for some courses quite a time – but whatever. Going out is as much about the company as about the food. The wine pairing was – as always – very nice, mostly with local options. The menue was 95 euros, the wine pairing 40 euros. If you dare you should try this!

A beautiful Sunday lunch at Gut Purbach

On special occasions I go to God’s own country (the Burgenland, naturally). This time it was my parent’s wedding anniversary – reason enough to (re)visit Gut Purbach, a restaurant run by Max Stiegl who is famous for his offal and lamb/goat dishes.

The restaurant is located in a very old building, situated around a rather big yard (must be beautiful in summer to sit outside). You can see how it was renovated with a lot of love for detail, but still slightly modernizing it. The style of the restaurant is very casual and friendly, very open. On entering the chef was chatting with guests and friends and the friendly waiter offered us drinks.

So to start with the table setting:

Gut Purbach: Table setting with mini rolls, beetroot/pumpkin spread and boar sausage

Gut Purbach: Table setting with mini rolls, beetroot/pumpkin spread and boar sausage

I LOVE mini rolls so much 🙂 Especially good was the homemade boar sausage!

So to start:

Tartar of smoked eel with avocado and horseraddish-ice-cream

Tartar of smoked eel with avocado and horseraddish-ice-cream

The tartar clearly was too cold, which was a shame because the taste of this beautiful fish didn’t come out fully. The horseraddish-ice-cream on the other hand was fluffy and interesting, a good contrast to the fatty fish.

White bean soup with fennel pollen and pickled anchovies

White bean soup with fennel pollen and pickled anchovies

The soup was just amazing! The beans were surprisingly intense and their mellow taste was countered exquisitely by the salty and very fishy anchovies. The fennel pollen was a beautiful twist, that made the dish very delicate.

Tripe with mussels in a tomato-pernod gravy

Tripe with mussels in a tomato-pernod gravy

Maybe the most thrilling dish, since it’s one of Stiegl’s specialities and the tripe comes from his own lambs. The tripe had a very distinctive (but NOT at all unpleasant!) taste, perfectly supported by the slight salty touch of the mussels and the fruity taste of tomatos. Only the grana was a bit too much, since it was also young and not best the quality (the one I use with the tons of spaghetti I eat…). Less but older cheese would have been better here.

Then we had a refreshment: Sorbet with sparkling wine – a nice twist to wake up 🙂 Evidently I was so sleepy already that I forgot to take a photo though…

Lamb shoulder with herb puree

Lamb shoulder with herb puree

The main course was a lamb shoulder in a beautiful gravy toghether with smooth herb puree. Very tasty, not much to add here 🙂

Chocolate roll with mocca ice-cream and pickled fruits

Chocolate roll with mocca ice-cream and pickled fruits

Well…this excellent restaurant is not the place for sweets. The chocolate roll („roulade“) was way too sweet for me, also the pickled fruits couldn’t change that. I would have prefered cheese, but they didn’t have any in stock 🙁

This beautiful menu was accompagnied by great local wines, many of them from the winery of Gut Purbach itself. The wines were brought to us by a nice and friendly young sommelier and brought out the best of the beautiful food.

A really remarkable restaurant – especially because they are specialised on local products (e.g. meat from their own animals) and try to use their animals from head to tail, so preserving also very old specialities. For this quality the price was very good too – you should calculate approx. 75€/person.