Rainy and overcast as my recent holidays in Austria might have been, there fortunately was a very bright and sunny spot as well, in the form of a leisurely lunch with fellow foodbloggers Nicky and Oliver of delicious:days. Although I have gotten used to it over the years now (but would strictly prohibit my teenage daughter to do the same, of course), these occasional blind dates sometimes still do trigger the thought that I must be completely insane to meet with someone I only know through a random IP address and some comments left here or there... but once again I had an incredible time that I wouldn't want to miss.
delicious:days are based in Munich, of course, and Linz is about 4 hours from there on a good day - so we decided to meet somewhere in the middle: the beautiful city of Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and his famous balls (very indulging and perfectly PG, by the way) and coincidentally a region with a high density of Michelin stars and Gault-Millau toques. For our meeting, I browsed the Gault Millau website for Austria (where, unlike the French version, you can still access restaurant data without buying the guide) - I wanted something with good food, but not necessarily with a 19/20 rating... basically somewhere that serves proper, yet inspirational dishes without being over-pretentious.
Purzelbaum (which literally translates into "somersault") is what I found and it did live up to expectations. The place is remarkably unstuffy, if a bit on the cold side décorwise (the light green as a predominating colour might have something to do with it) and the service could have been a bit more friendly and swift, although I appreciate that they were under stress due to one table of over 20 people needing rather too much attention alongside the normal lunch-hour clientèle.
We didn't really mind, too involved in exchanging wonderful gifts (my generous goodie bag included a hand-blended spice mix I have yet to try, some gorgeous-looking preserve of oven-dried tomatoes, a bag of dried strawberries, some spicy dry-cured sausages and the most indulging chocolate truffles I have had in a while, over which I am letting out little sighs of delight as we speak) and too entrenched in conversations revolving around nothing much more but cooking and photography and the wonderful world that is the foodblogging community.
And we certainly weren't let down by the food. I stayed firmly in Austrian territory, choosing traditional dishes with a touch of haute-cuisine in places. A great breadbasket came accompanied by a duo of cream-based spreads, one with smoked salmon (or trout), the other with a medley of vegetables and curry, although I was so sucked up in chatter that only dim memories remain... for a starter Nicky and I had chosen a wonderfully creamy pumpkin soup with a drizzle of pumpkinseed oil, which I then followed up with three perfectly cooked medallions of venison in a portwine sauce, served with sautéed girolles mushrooms and the inevitable red cabbage stew, but boy, what a stew!
Heavenly scents of orange and apple abounded and made me wish for a second helping... which goes even more so for the other accompaniment of "Serviettenknoedel" dumplings, made with day-old bread, roast onions and herbs, cooked or steamed in a linen cloth - this version was given the gourmet kick of enrobing the dumpling with black truffles, an incredible combination that left me drooling for more.
Although too full to be thinking of anything more to eat, we couldn't resist dessert: again, we stayed close to our roots with a blueberry & curd Schmarrn for Oliver and Marillenknödel (see top picture) for the ladies... an excellent choice, if I say so myself. Although one of my apricots wasn't fully ripe, I thoroughly enjoyed the fluffyness of the (curd) dough, the crispy breadcrumbs and the careful presentation - I am not usually one to resist dumplings anyway,but these were cooked just as my Mama makes them!
They certainly do know what they're doing here and have found a winning formula: a menu that is varied enough to please the international clientèle brought by the many cultural events of the city, but not too over-ambitious, relying heavily on local produce and reviving some traditional Austrian dishes with a bit of oomph. And with a set menu of 4 courses at less than 50 Euro, starters between 5 and 15 Euros and mains around 20 Euro, a visit here will hardly break the bank either. So if you happen to be in the area and need a culinary break, step in and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
Tel.: +43 (0)662/ 84 88 43
Fax: +43 (0)662/ 84 88 43-3
Open Monday pm to Saturday pm (also Sunday during Festival season)