Cooking class with a substitute

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.

20130727-111558.jpgEveryone 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.


20130727-112709.jpgIt was very interesting to learn the dumplings are no longer cooked in a linen napkin but in plastic wrap. I was not aware that one can do that and that the plastic is not melting.



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.

20130727-175507.jpg The fresh porcini were still waiting for their own roasting.

20130727-175641.jpgAnd here is the result.




Last but not least the dessert, here all the stages of the preparation.



20130727-180239.jpgFor decoration we used frozen herbs and edible flowers, slightly crumbled.

20130727-180453.jpgAnd voila, my plate.


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.
Yours, Pollybert

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.


Another festival

Sunday afternoon turned out quite differently than planned. In May my friends and I went wine tasting in Burgenland for an afternoon. Since we had such a lovely time we decided to take these day trips more often and agreed on last Sunday for another outing.
Initially we had an afternoon in the amusement park Prater planned with a later visit to the Schweizerhaus, then a picnic and in the end we went to a beer festival, the Braukulturwochen at the Ottakringer Brauerei (a local Viennese brewery).
This festival runs over a period of 10 weeks, with films, concerts and introduces a different brewery from around Austria every week. When we went on Sunday there was nothing happening…


We tried both available brands, Ottakringer (it’s their festival) and Forster (so-so). Due to it being Sunday there were not a lot of people. Also it closed at 6pm (only on Sunday) and the food didn’t look so inviting.

In the end we split, the three on the right were heading home and the rest went to the MQ Halle for burgers and fries. And since it was such a lovely evening I decided to walk downtown to get an ice cream at Gelateria.
On the way we made some beautiful pictures.


We passed the Michaelerkirche which was still decorated from the wedding the day before. An Austrian stylist married an English banker and Emma Watson attended as well. I love Hermione!



Besides drinking beer and eating burgers, I also went for a short run on Saturday

and finished my books. First ‘The Paris Wife’ by Paula McLain. It is a very compelling story about the first wife (he had four and a few on the side) of Ernest Hemingway, Hadley Richardson. What I found interesting was the information how much of his own experiences went into his first novel ‘Fiesta: The sun also rises’. The book reads fast and one meets all kinds of fascinating writers from the 20’s. It also reminded me of the Woody Allen movie ‘Midnight in Paris’.
The second book was ‘Furious Love’ by Sam Kashner, the love story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It took me a while to finish it, but I wanted to take my time. The book was amazing and what makes it so great is that it is not fiction. These two people had it all and their enigmatic personalities are coming alive on the pages. By now I am quite obsessed with them. I started to google them to see if there are interviews online. And there are, also tons of pictures, stories and so on. It will take me some time to go through it all. I hope my obsession will abate with time.
Yours, Pollybert

PS: I have started now with ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel