For my birthday last year I got a cooking class voucher with a well know chef in Vienna, called Moerwald. This week I finally found the time to go and there was also a class available.
On arriving at the Kochamt in the Palais Ferstel I noticed right away that we were not going to cook with chef Moerwald himself, but with his second in command (ok, I don’t know where he stands exactly in the cooking hierarchy) Roland Huber. I can’t say I was disappointed by this change, he was quite easy on the eye.
A hostess greeted me with a glass of white wine in the open kitchen/dining room. The kitchen counter was already prepped for cooking and the table set for a total of nine guests.
The theme for the cooking class was herbs and wild mushrooms. I could not imagine what we would be cooking (herbs and mushrooms are not substantial ingredients but more like a seasoning or garnish thing for me) but was ready to be surprised.
We started with the preparations for the dessert. Vanilla pudding made from scratch with apricots baked in a caramel-wine sauce with star anise and different herbs. We used basil, rosemary, thyme and mint.
While the pudding was cooling in the freezer and the apricots baking in the oven, we moved on to the meat for the main dish. Three thick-cut steaks (around one pound each) were quickly browned on each side, then shortly roasted in butter, herbs and garlic and only then put into the oven to roast at a low temperature to its pink perfection. We used a thermometer to get the correct core temperature of 52 degrees Celsius.
After that we started with the appetizer, a leaf salad with marinated vegetables and garden herbs.
Everyone arranged its own salad, mine just didn’t come out any better. It tasted ok, for me there was just too much sugar and oil in the dressing. For non Viennese people: sugar is a staple ingredient in the salad dressing, it’s kind of an acquired taste. Personally I prefer the French dressing of Dijon, herbs the Provence, vinegar and oil.
We sat down with the salad and another glass of wine. Conversation was flowing, mostly about cooking, cooking shows and other food related topics. It was astonishing how young most of the participants were. Of the eight people we were in the end, five were easily under 25.
Next course was chanterelle goulash with Palffy dumplings. The Palffy in the dumplings means that they are made with brioche and not with bread. Therefore they have a sweeter taste which really went well with the smoked sweet paprika blend that we used for the chanterelle sauce.
The meat meanwhile was ready and resting outside. Our chef prepared an herbal pesto with lots of basil, parsley, rosemary and thyme, also walnuts and Parmesan. To give the meat more texture and to heat it a bit, it was put again into the frying pan where the herbs, garlic and butter were still left.
Last but not least the dessert, here all the stages of the preparation.
The food was excellent, the cooking class so-so. It was supposed to last four hours and I thought we would be more involved in the cooking process. Not just watching the chef cooking and trying to sell the products of the shop. Still, I had a good time.
PS: I finished ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel. I liked it, a lot actually. But it is definitely a book which I should re-read in a couple of months. I am not sure I understood all the deep meaning behind it.
Therefore after ‘Pi’ I read a YA novel. ‘You against me’ by Jenny Downham deals with the difficult subject of rape and how it affects not only the victim and the aggressor but also the family of the two. Very well written as was already ‘Before I die’ from her.
I am now reading some chick lit. One needs something light and funny in between. It is ‘I heart New York’ by Lindsey Kelk and so far it is reading like a breeze. Also funny, I’ve laughed out loud a few times.