Kochfreunde.com is the culinary magazine of Oliver Wagner. Here, everything revolves around the almost most beautiful thing in the world: good food. The focus ranges from reports on exciting restaurants to recipes from his own kitchen, cookbooks and culinary gadgets.


Kochfreunde.com ist das kulinarisches Magazin von Oliver Wagner. Hier dreht sich alles rund um die beinahe schönste Sache der Welt: Gutes Essen. Dabei reicht der Fokus von Berichten über spannende Restaurants bis hin zu Rezepten aus der eigenen Küche, Kochbücher und kulinarische Gadgets.

Beyond Sweetness II

There is a problem in the restaurant business: people often cook too sweetly. Too little attention is paid to other tastes such as bitter, sour, salty or umami. A creeping problem, in which it is impossible to determine who is causing it. Guest or restaurateur? Presumably, it continues to reinforce itself almost unnoticed and, in the process, is an expression of increasing culinary synchronization. An equalization of taste, a continual grinding away of corners and edges, in the very worst case to the point of insignificance.

There is such a wonderfully intense and diverse variety of flavors – and yet the lowest common denominator often dominates.

That, at least, is the conceptual background that led to the creation of Beyond Sweetness – a workshop with the goal of counteracting the advancing “sweetening” of food. Originally launched in Cologne by Hermann Stöckmann of Smart Wines and the team of the Restaurant am Kamin, the Taubenkobel in the Austrian Schützen was recently the meeting place for the second edition of the event.

You could hardly have chosen a better place. After all, Forbes counts the Hideaway on Lake Neusiedl among the 16 must-visit restaurants in 2016. Worldwide. In addition to the hosts Barbara Eselböck, Alain Weissgerber, sommelier Peter Müller and sous chef Christoph Mandl are this time the top chefs Nils Henkel, Philip Rachinger from the Mühltalhof in Neufelden, Hendrik Olfen from the La Société in Cologne, two-star chef Nenad Mlinarevic along with sommelier Marian Henss from the Focus from Vitznau, Switzerland, and sommelier, author and future restaurateur Sebastian Bordthäuser.

Fortunately, this format is not exclusively about theory, but much more about practice: on the first day, the sommeliers’ ideas for one unfermented and one fermented drink each to accompany the planned dishes of the five top chefs were tried out and discussed. In the search for a taste that is as unadulterated as possible, the five basic tastes of bitter, salty, sour, sweet and umami play a central role. Feedback from the first day was incorporated for the big menu the following day, so some dishes or their liquid accompaniments still underwent slight changes.

The menu

The artichoke

2015 Welschriesling, Rennerssitas, Gols, Lake Neusiedl
Verjus, tarragon, acacia
Alain Weissgerber & the pigeon loft team

The prelude to the menu, of course, belongs to the hosts. After a wonderfully fresh and summery amouse of watermelon and basil, Alain Weissgerber serves an artichoke in different textures. The theme of acidity is very subtly picked up by Verjus. Together with a white wine reduction, this created a jus in which parts of the artichoke were gently cooked. At the same time it forms the basis for a light sauce. At the table, the dish is completed with grated Sopron cheese liver. The marinated and frozen liver is delicately rubbed over the artichoke. A sure instinct is required here. A touch too much and the foie gras dominates the delicate dish a bit too much. The interplay both with the Welschriesling, and especially with Peter Müller’s drink based on verjus, tarragon, acacia succeeds exquisitely and underlines and emphasizes the aromatics on the plate.

A fabulous insight into the kitchen of the Taubenkobel that definitely makes you want more.


Pickled Cristalle shrimp, smoked tofu, watercress, black forest miso

2013 Estrany Xarel-lo, Cellar Credo, Penedès
Prisecco Cuvée No. 30: apple, chickweed, sea salt
Nils Henkel & Jörg Geiger

In these months, Niels Henkel is not only his usual busy self, but also on the road a lot. What great way offers the opportunity to taste dishes from his culinary pen in many and very different places. On the theme of umami, he conceived a dish for the menu and workshop around white tiger shrimp from Grevesmühlen, miso from the Black Forest, smoked tofu bedded on a dashi broth, made using the previously grilled heads of the shrimp. At first glance a very light plate, but with a surprising depth and complexity of flavor and a lot of artisanal finesse. Sensational. As well as the paring to it. Both the biodynamic Estrany from Celler Credo and the Prisecco developed by Jörg Geiger, based on apple, chickweed, sea salt and a touch of oyster shell.

Celery, apple, chicken liver

2015 Wolfer Sonnelay Riesling Kabinett, White Artist, Traben-Trabach, Mosel
Kombucha, apple
Nenad Mlinarevic & Marian Henss

At first glance, Nenad Mlinarevic’s plate from the Swiss restaurant Focus in the Park Hotel Vitznau seems almost too simple. The celery, first baked, then flavored in rich butter, also gets its sour aspect from the addition of verjus, while the aromatic depth is contributed by the processed chicken liver. Very fresh, light and only minimally acidic, this wonderful dish would definitely have the potential to snag a spot on the Focus menu. Ideally complemented by both a Riesling Kabinett and a Kombucha from sommelier Marian Henss that had been prepared over a period of weeks.


Lamb shoulder, fermented turnip stalk, white Kampot pepper, bitter herbs.

2013 Countess Maria & Sepp Muster, Leutschach, Styria
Green miso tea, cucumber, grapefruit
Hendrik Olfen & Sebastian Bordthäuser

In fact, the lamb shoulder with turnip greens and bitter herbs is the first course that pushes the envelope a bit more, boldly playing both with the bitterness of the herbs, vegetables and grapefruit, while also bringing a very pleasant spiciness to the plate through the processed Kampott pepper. Hendrik Olfens also adds smoked green almonds and lamb grammels. Sebastian Bordthäuser accompanies the course with the Countess by Maria & Sepp Muster, a typical Orange Wine – and a very fitting counterpart for the very strong dish. Alternatively, a green miso tea with light notes of cucumber and grapefruit picks up the theme and underlines it again clearly.



Simmenthal beef, cherry, young garlic, bay leaf

2015 Rosso Vino Leggero, Pranzegg, Martin Gojer, Bolzano, South Tyrol
Beef consomée, lovage
Philip Rachinger & Gregor Ladenhauf

Philip Rachinger from the Mühltalhof chose a very surprising approach for the implementation of his theme: The complete renunciation of salt. At least with the main component, the reed cover from Simmental cattle. Only the cherries were marinated in salt, so together with the young garlic they give a perfect complement to this wonderfully light and summery dish. But there is salt in the soup: in the consomée, which fortunately accompanies the beef. In addition, the course is accompanied by a Vino Leggero from South Tyrol also summery light.



Green almond, sour cream ice cream, spinach rarities

2011 Brut Nature, Gut Oggau, Neusiedler Hügelland
Juiced Schützen meadows, iced almond milk
Alain Weissgerber and the team from the pigeon loft

The culinary circle on this evening closes with a dessert by the hosts around Alain Weissgerber and pâtissier Roman Hütter. Under a mountain of sweet marinated young spinach is a delicious ice cream of sour cream and an almond cream. A summery light conclusion to a multi-faceted menu. Accompanied by Brut Nature from the Oggau estate, which is closely linked by family ties, and a juice from the Schützen meadows with iced almond milk.


They were very inspiring days in Austria. Filled to the brim with culinary impressions, new impressions and food for thought. And that was exactly the goal of the trip.

By the way, much more detailed notes on the individual courses can be found at Lisa Vockenhuber.

Apart from that, the pigeon coop is urgently worth a visit anyway. Such a wonderful hideaway, full of history and stories, fantastically individually decorated and crowned by sensational cuisine. No wonder Clark Parkin has just written such a wonderful tribute.

By the way, in the future I would always like to find a record player in my hotel rooms… please.

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