A Taste of Hotel Sacher & Austria, Shangri-La, The Rocks & Win A Sacher Torte!


taste austria shangri la hotel sacher

One of my most vivid memories was a 10am visit to the Hotel Sacher in Vienna to try the Sacher torte, the very famous dense chocolate cake split and filled with apricot jam and enrobed in more chocolate. I had tried Sacher torte here and wondered what the fuss was about. And then I tried the one at Hotel Sacher and it was deliciously moist and moreish and suddenly I knew why it became so famous. And keep reading Dear Reader, if you would like a chance to win a whole Sacher-torte of your very own flown all the way over from the Hotel Sacher in Vienna! ;)

Back to the present though. I'm at the Shangri-La hotel in The Rocks to try some of the Austrian food for the Taste Austria dinner as part of the Austrian week of food where they have flown over the Hotel Sacher's chef Werner Pichlmaier for the occasion. From the 1st to the 6th of August (yes today is the last day!) diners at Altitude restaurant can try Austrian dishes such as Sacher Tafelspitz Aspic, Pike Perch, Rack of Deer and Onion Sirloin Steak and of course Sacher torte. Or if you just want to try the cake the Shangri-La is also selling Sacher tortes to take away for $95 for a 6 person cake if you go into the hotel. But remember after today they will not be available! We're in for a slightly different menu tonight but one nonetheless quintessentially Austrian.

taste austria shangri la hotel sacher

Travelling to Austria for a meal can seem unwieldy for most and we learn during the course of the evening that people have not only travelled for this evening from as far as Nambucca Heads, but also Townsville and Perth to attend this dinner. The idea behind this Taste Austria dinner is not only to try modern Austrian classics but also to match the food to Austrian wine and the other thing that Austria is known for, classical music. When I walk in an ensemble from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is playing.

taste austria shangri la hotel sacher

The evening starts with a welcome from Austrian Wine Marketing Board's Willi Klinger who explains the wines that we will be having with our meals. Grüner Veltliner is the predominant wine in Austria and although Austria lies at the same latitude as Burgundy, there are large temperature differences with hot Summer days and cool nights. He calls Austrian wines more "intellectual" before correcting himself (there was a reaction to that of course ;) ) to say that they are instead "sensual" wines. And interestingly, it has been said that Grüner Veltliner is a good match for Chinese and Asian cuisine which can be notoriously hard to match.

taste austria shangri la hotel sacher

Horseradish marshmallow with lardo, cream of Jerusalem artichokes, Western Australian truffles served with Schloss Gobelsburg Sekt

Now I did read that this was a horseradish marshmallow but I didn't expect that it would be a horseradish marshmallow! Which sounds silly I know but there is the striking horseradish quality to the confection but it is also very, very sweet much like a spongey fresh marshmallow. It's sits underneath a paper thin crispy wafer which is crossed with a crisp piece of lardo. On the right is a cup of velvety smooth cream of Jerusalem artichoke soup which has an amazingly aromatic slice of Western Australian truffle-so aromatic that when it is placed in front of me I can smell the truffle before I see it.

taste austria shangri la hotel sacher

Tartare of milk fed veal, yabbies with beetroot served with 2009 Donabaum Thal Smaragd Gruner Veltliner

Our second course is a perfectly seasoned tartare of milk fed veal with two tender yabbies and salad leaves sitting atop and some sweet beetroot relish on the side. But no meal is complete without matching of the food and the wine and to match the Grüner Veltliner and tonight they have matchd the music to the wine. Musicians from the SSO perform the 2nd movement (Andante) from Schubert's String Quartet in A Minor, D804 (Rosamunde).

taste austria shangri la hotel sacher

Crispy skin mulloway, cucumber and pork crackling served with 2009 Weingut Salomon Undhof Steiner Kogl served with Reserve Riesling

The neat serving of crispy skin mulloway is moist on the inside and sits on a bed of finely diced cucumber, foam and dill with a baton of crunchy, light pork crackling. Two sweet semi dried cherry tomato halves finish off the dish.

taste austria shangri la hotel sacher

Wagyu Sirloin, onion, confit potatoes and broccoli served with 2008 Nittnaus Kalk und Schiefer Blaufrankisch

The wagyu is cooked medium rare and served with soft braised onions, a square of confit potato, crispy onions (a very Austrian accompaniment to beef) and a broccoli puree with a tiny head of broccoli. The beef is very tender and it's a simple way of serving beef Austrian style.

taste austria shangri la hotel sacher

Steven Krasicki (left) and Werner Pichlmaier

Altitude's chef Steven Krasicki comes out with Hotel Sacher's chef Pichlmaier for a bow and applause. And for two chefs that have just fed 100 people all at once they look surprisingly relaxed!

taste austria shangri la hotel sacher

Plum Ravioli with cinnamon crumbs, red wine ice cream served with 2001 Weingut Kracker Trockenbeerenauslese Traminer

The plum ravioli comes out as two sticks of ravioli coated in very crispy cinnamon crumbs. The centre of the dumpling is filled with a sweet vividly dark purple coloured plum puree and the two tone ice cream is creamy and dense and flavoured with red wine.

taste austria shangri la hotel sacher

No Austrian meal is complete without Mozart chocolates, two per person housed in little bags in the Austrian flag colours plus a gift bag with a CD of "Rendezvous Wine and Music" Discovery of the Senses: A Journey from Muskateller to Beerenauslese, from J.S. Bach to S. Prokofieff." And if I took me eyes away from the fantastic view of the Harbour Bridge, I could have felt like I was in Austria!

vienna, austria, eating tour

And I did mention a giveaway didn't I Dear Readers! Thanks to the lovely people at the Shangri-La Hotel two lucky Sydney based Not Quite Nigella readers will win a Sacher torte that serves 6 people worth $95! This legendary cake has been airfreighted all the way from Vienna's Hotel Sacher! For a chance to win one all you have to do is tell me *a random fact about Austria! *Simply add your answer as a comment to the story. Now this is a very, very short competition as the cakes are fresh and will only last until Wednesday so the competition ends at midnight AEST 7th of August, 2011. I will choose winners Monday morning on the 8th of August and the Shangri-La will courier you the cake on Monday. You can enter this  competition once daily and the cake can only be sent in the Sydney Metropolitan area as they are perishable.

*The winners are:

Hannah (sarcasm cupca)

*and *

Margie May

Please contact me on info{at}notquitenigella{dot}com replacing the at and dot with the appropriate keys. The cake must be sent by Wednesday the 10th of August , 2011 as it is a fresh product.

Best of luck!

Lots of love,



NQN dined as a guest of the Shangri-La Hotel**

Altitude Restaurant

Level 36, Shangri-La Hotel

176 Cumberland Street The Rocks Sydney

Tel: +61 (02) 9250-6000

The Taste Austria food and wine week goes from the 1st-6th August, 2011