If you are anything like me you will have become aware of Salzburg due to its association with one of the most famous and most head-poundingly awful movies ever committed to celluloid. Now, as this is not a blog about movies and I’m trying to keep swearing to a minimum in these posts, all I will say is that the movie in question – featuring singing nuns, Julie Andrews and seven of the most detestable children in cinema history – is the only film I have ever watched in which I actually hoped the Nazi’s would win to stop the horror of idiots dancing in gazebos and schnitzels being teamed with noodles. If you can somehow overcome these faults and the nausea that often results from viewing the film, you may notice that the location itself is actually rather beautiful. The dramatic splendor of the Eastern Alps and the towering fortresses cast a shadow over this compact, pretty, thorough charming city, and whilst many visitors are drawn to the Mirabell Palace in order to dance around the fountain humming do-re-mi, I came for powerful scenery, great food and the chance to have a nosy around Mozart’s kitchen. I can tick all three objectives off my bucket list, though my quest for authentic delicacies would have mixed results.
Carrot and tomato soup with ginger (4.50 euros) Original Bavarian veal sausages (8.30 euros). It rarely happens that I am frightened by food. I thrive of the weird and wonderful, eager to embrace new flavours and smells and textures to broaden my palate and expand the boundaries of my culinary landscape. Yet somehow my desire to sample this traditional Austrian delicacy was tempered as soon as I saw it. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but bloated white sausages swimming in a bowl of tepid water definitely wasn’t it. It also struck me as a bizarre combination. Just what does one do with a sausage and a pretzel? Do you nibble one before nibbling the other? Do you cut them with a knife and fork? Do you somehow balance the sausages on top of the pretzel as the world’s least successful hot dog? The taste of the meat itself isn’t bad, but it isn’t good enough to overcome the horror of peeling off the thick skin of each bulging meat balloon only to watch it float in the water like a used condom tossed into a puddle. I manage half of one sausage, which actually felt like a personal triumph, before pushing them behind the menu so I wouldn’t have to face them again. Sorry, Salzburg. I love your history and your desserts are the stuff of wet dreams, but these sausages will haunt my nightmares for a while to come. Still, top marks for the gorgeous carrot and tomato soup and for all the pictures I took once I was able to stop dry heaving.
Marillenknödel (7.50 euros) Tea with rum (5.50 euros). Ahhhhhhhh… this is more like it. I had been searching for Marillenknödel since arriving in Austria but was thwarted by… well, all the other food I was eating. Now came my chance to try this charming dessert. Served warmed with a pool of molten apricot at their center, these delightful dough balls are traditionally boiled in salt water before being coated in a sandstorm of breadcrumbs and powdered sugar. The result when fried are the most tender, sweet and adorable dumplings I’ve ever encountered. Accompanied by a strong cup of Earl Grey and an even stronger glass of rum, providing an extra level of delight as I drizzled a spoonful both into my tea and onto my last remaining knödel. The results were, needless to say, impressive.
(Linzer G. 27)
Spaghetti all’ Amatricana. After my run-in with the monster sausages that had come close to putting me off all foodstuffs for life, I retreated into the open arms of my all-time favourite meal, pasta. Convention tells us that when in Rome we should do as the Romans do (preferably avoiding the whole killing Christians thing) but when a restorante is put in my path it simply isn’t possible for me to remain on the Austrian straight and narrow. A busy trattoria with interiors and an atmosphere that I can barely recall, I was soon tucking into a large bowl of Italy’s greatest export filled to bursting with bacon, pepperoni, anchovies, capers, olives, tomato’s and peppers so hot that sweat beads started popping on my forehead and running into my eyebrows. I just dabbed them away and kept eating till by mouth was numb and my stomach could take no more. Gorgeous.
Treating myself to a refreshing green tea and a couple of the edible/drinkable treats picked up at Mozarts Wohnhaus. The chocolates are quite nice with a marzipan filling (never a bad thing in my book) and the thimbleful of creamy chocolate liquor was a particular delight. All this with wonderful views overlooking the city.
Salzburger Nockerl (17.50 euros). As a fan of Man v Food, the TV show where a man eats his way to Type 2 diabetes, I have often marveled at food being consumed not for pleasure but for the challenge they represent. Like the search for Atlantis, the quest for the Holy Grail or the hunt for someone who has successfully sued for PPI and received all of their money back, people seek out the most difficult, bonkers tasks imaginable so they can feel a sense of accomplishment when – or indeed if – they conquer them. And so we have the Nockerl. Meant to represent three of the hills surrounding the city (there are technical names for these but for the purposes of this blog lets refer to them as Huge, Gargantuan and Blimey Charlie! Look at the size of that!) this regional specialty is a daunting prospect for even the most dedicated foodie. A mix of egg white, vanilla and a plantations worth of sugar, this surprising light and fluffy delight is served warm with a center oozing red currants, raspberries and a host of other seasonal fruits and berries (the outer layer also developed a skin that tasted rather like an unseasoned omelette. I found that this – when mixed with the juice of a hundred squashed blackberries – went down a treat). There was never any chance of me being able to finish it all, but there was the tempting prospect of seeing just how much of it I could finish before keeling over. This turned out to be less than one mountain. This is a dessert to share between at least two people – or, ideally, a family of six over the course of a long weekend – but I gave it my best shot and went away knowing that I hadn’t missed out on this unique, overwhelming and delectable delight. That I was able to indulge in such a treat whilst staring out over the majestic landscape of the Eastern Alps only added to the pleasure.
And so we say a sad but fond farewell to Salzburg, a lovely city filled with tradition and warmth and amazing food. Come back soon for more highlights from Vienna as I head back to sample more delights from the coffee capital of Europe. Till next time, folks xx
Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx