Zum Weissen Rauchfangkehrer, Vienna – One of our Favourites in Town

Having spent four or five days in Vienna nearly every year around New Year for seven or eight years, with several visits further in the past, I was surprised when I found out recently that there was supposed to be this famous, long-standing, traditional restaurant just a few steps away from St. Stephen’s that had escaped my culinary net so far: To the White Chimneysweep, or: Zum Weissen Rauchfangkehrer. I can only presume that one of my local contacts must have pointed me away from it. But why… was it that unfortunate Sissy joke I had made a few years ago? Or that argument about who does the best strudel, Bavaria or Vienna…? Note to self: keep mouth shut more frequently. One thing that is certain, is that the restaurant, founded in 1848, has an exceptionally proud history. Perhaps best known is the fact that it was the first restaurant […]

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Conger Steaks and Spicy Prawns with Sweet Potato and Spinach

Ever since I went on a deep sea conger fishing trip from Brighton about a year ago, I got my mind set to cooking some of those lovely eels. Back then, none of our group were able to catch a single conger eel, but luckily enough there is Borough Market. You don’t find conger on offer very often, but during my last visit they had a whole big conger resting there on the ice in the display tray, untouched yet by anyone. I ordered three 1.5-inch thick steaks, and the guy behind the counter started chopping away like a young Bruce Lee. I also purchased some prawns, herbs, spices, sweet potatoes and normal potatoes The rest of the ingredients I already had at home.   Conger has a proud history as a food fish in Europe. The 12th Century Norman Taxation Pipe Roll mentions two establishments for the drying of […]

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Dining in a giant wine cask or under antlers – Gasthaus Puerstner, Vienna

Located in a grand (1900) turn-of-the-Century building where once the saddlers went about their business, the high-ceilinged rooms at Gasthaus Puerstner are covered in hand-painted wooden panels with rustic furniture and décor. In one room, aptly named the “Cask Room”, you can even be seated inside halves of giant wooden wine casks that have been attached with their bottom to the walls, what’s not to like. Each room has its own character. The Schankraum (“Front Desk Room”) in the entrance area next to the bar appears to attract a fair few regulars, some of whom seem like they have put up their tents here several decades ago, metaphorically speaking. Like most good restaurants in the centre of popular tourist destinations there is a very high percentage of tourists among the guests, which is fine in our book. We are not locals either, as it happens. A large number of positive […]

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Bacalhau a Bras – A Recipe for Portugal’s Premium Comfort Food

When I spent a whole week in Portugal five years ago, I fell in love with Portuguese cuisine. Bacalhau or salt cod in all its variations is one of the staple foods of local cuisine, much more so than in Spain or, say, Venice, where it also enjoys huge popularity. Bacalhau a Bras is said to be named after Senhor Bras or Braz, the owner of a tavern in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto district. He is said to have come up with the recipe many moons ago. It is also sometimes called Bacalhau Dourado, or “golden bacalhau.” The dish is extremely simple, usually just containing flakes of salt cod, deep fried match-shaped potato crisps, onions, and eggs, garnished with black olives and parsley. While egg dishes might sound to most ears like breakfast dishes, Bacalhau a Bras can be enjoyed as breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight meal after a night out, or […]

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Razor Clams – a basic Recipe for a Starter (45mins)

Razor clams have been one of my absolute favourite types of seafood ever since I properly tried them for the first time as a grown-up at La Vache et Le Cuisinier in Paris five years ago. Their texture and taste remind me a bit of baby octopus, but they are much more delicate in my view. Usually I would, of course, buy seafood at the market. Now, with lockdown and all, I just went and bought a very nice-looking pack of 15 frozen Irish ones from the local Portuguese delicatessen. I also bought some baguette from our Italian-Indian corner store. They have the best French bread in our neighbourhood, as it happens. I defrosted the clams in the fridge over a 24h period.   We already had all the other ingredients in our fridge and storage cupboard: INGREDIENTS (Starter for 2 to 3 persons, in addition to 12 to 20 […]

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