Dear Reader, allow me to share with you a little fact that you may not have known about Austrians. Austrians were known as Bull Washers (or Stierwaschers). The story goes that apparently in 1525, the castle was besieged and they needed to pretend to the outside world that they had plenty of food. They only had one bull and to make it look like they had plenty to eat with lots of bulls they painted their one bull different colours to throw potential invaders off the scent. Of course what happens after they painted the bull is that they had to wash it hence the term Bull Washers. And did you know that the owner of the Red Bull energy drink company is an entrepreneur from Austria called Dietrich Mateschitz?
One of his investments is a bar and restaurant called Carpe Diem opened in August 2005. In the downstairs bar you can have cocktails and food served in cones - what they call fast finger food with a difference. The concept was to have food that people could eat quickly and easily (hence I suppose Carpe Diem or "seize the day") so that it was fast food but not sacrificing their health (although it must be said there's some sense of irony as the bar is rather smoke filled). Tonight we are indulging in a rather exciting progressive dinner: our entrees, mains and desserts will be at different restaurants across Salzburg that are all within walking distance. We walk into Carpe Diem and it looks stunning, clearly there has been a pretty penny spent on outfitting it. Patrons are young and in front of them sit cocktails and cones. The menu is divided into vegetarian, fish and meat and there are non cone like selections as well. And please forgive the photos, the restaurants were rather dark!
Char with creamy spinach and truffle foam served in a curry cone E6.50
The char (an arctic fish) is delicious with a creamy blended spinach and two asparagus spears on top. It's accompanied by a small plate with a tiny fried quail's egg and a thin slice of truffle which is gorgeous although I'm a bit bewildered as to whether I eat this first or after the cone or with it. No matter they taste great separately and together.
Beef tartar with mashed potatoes and cress in a sancho pepper cone E4.90
I adore the perfectly seasoned beef tartar which I enjoy immensely from beginning to end. With some of these cones, the ends of them are stuffed with raw, undressed vegetables which makes for a less than thrilling end but this one starts with the beef tartar and ends with creamy mash.
Pepper couscous with pepper foam served in a pepper cone E5.40
I next try the pepper or capsicum couscous served with a tiny espresso cup of creamy pepper foam which is delicious and well seasoned (Austrians seem to have a real knack with soups). The cone doesn't taste particularly capsicum-ey, it tastes like a regular ice cream cone albeit slightly crisper. The couscous isn't as flavoursome as I'd like though.
Beef hamburger in a rosemary cone with french fried potatoes and home made ketchup E5.20
A three parter cone the main cone comes with two small hamburger patties and some thinly sliced lettuce. There is also a cone of home made tomato sauce and fries. It's so cute, it's almost like playing with toy food and it's a favourite at the table.
Red chicken wings with a corn on the cob and spicy dip in a paprika cone E4.90
The red chicken wings are boneless chicken wings marinated in a curry type sauce which is very succulent although there is some major spillage at the bottom of the cone which leaks out all over and should perhaps come with a warning for one's clothes!
Inside the Arthotel Blaue Gans
Arthotel Blaue Gans_
With our entrees eaten, we take a quick look at the restaurant upstairs and then head off to our second destination of the evening: the famous Arthotel Blaue Gans. It was at first named after the pheasant but people often mistook the logo to mean the Blue Goose so it stuck and they concluded they may as well change it. Tonight we are having the house speciality: roast goose breast. I almost die from excitement as this is my first time trying goose.
There's a good selection of three different types of bread: a sun dried tomato, olive and plain and the menu has some interesting sounding combinations like roasted leg of duck with goose liver mousse and saddle of young deer. Interestingly, we notice the cover charge of E2.90 at the bottom of the menu and they tell us that it's for the place setting, napkins and bread. Only higher class establishments charge covers.
Roast Goose with apple
Our main arrives and it looks magnificent. The slices are pink in the centre and edged with fat. Despite the fact that I've had so many cones, it's moreish and oh so good and if I were a goose I'd like to end up like this. The red cabbage is lovely, I often find it a little bitter but this is deliciously sweet and find it hard to resist. And the dumplings are they're light as feather and a most unusual consistency so when I take to it with a knife, it's so fluffy it acts like a souffle and threatens to fly away. The final accompaniment is a whole roasted bay apple stuffed with cranberries which is good but I don't think it needs the apple as the sauerkraut is sweet enough.
Pushing back our plates we head over the bridge to the famous Hotel Sacher, a magnificent looking brightly lit hotel that created the original Sacher torte. We're stopping here for a nightcap and a farewell drink. The sparkling wine is very good, almost like a champagne and is made by the same method.
Schlumberger sparkling wine
We're also served little Christmas cookies. One cookie has jam spread between two cookies and there's also a crispy cookie and a vanilla crescent. As I am full to bursting I take a nibble of each and surrender. And never fear my pretties, we did try the Sacher Torte on another day!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever experienced a progressive dinner?
NQN travelled to Austria as a guest of the Austria National Tourist Office and Emirates airlines.
5020 Salzburg, Austria
Arthotel Blaue Gans
Herbert von karajanplatz 3
getreidegasse 41-43, 5020 salzburg, Austria
5020 Salzburg, Austria