Eating Your Way Across Austria: Insatiable Salzburg

Hangar 7's Ikarus restaurant above the planes
Petra Fleischhaker, owner of Pfefferschiff
Pfefferschiff's cosy interior
Scio's Specereyen serves the delightful nipples of Venus

An Appetite For The Good Life And Places To Indulge It

Forget Mozart, even though his legacy lives on through foil-wrapped balls of confection sporting his image.  Forget The Sound Of Music, even though vestiges of this 45-year-old film fill the city with tourists trying to solve a problem like Maria.  Forget even the famous Salzburg Festival coming up as it does annually each July, or the endless array of excellent concerts performed every night of the year somewhere in this beautiful and compact city, once capital of an independent country ruled by the powerful Prince Archbishops of Salzburg, now ruled by a collection of restaurants who have earned the devotion of the citizenry to be envied by any national leader.  After all, Salzburg is home to the oldest restaurant in Europe, St Peter's, founded in 803—not 1803, just 803.

The appreciation for the good life knows no bounds in Salzburg; the locals are accustomed to the best—and lots of it.  Salzburg is often written about as if some relic from the past that somehow survived into the modern world, yet nothing could be further from the truth.  It's true that Salzburg has one of the most impressive historical patrimonies in the world, but it is also a thoroughly modern city with a progressive outlook.  The new Museum Of Modern Art, for example, is well worth a visit; aside from the impressive exhibits, its restaurant M32 offers a beautiful panorama of the city from both its terrace and very contemporary dining room.  The museum offers special 'Art Breakfasts' for people hungry in two ways.  For many others, a day begins at Café Tomaselli, a classic Central European café where reading the morning newspaper is accompanied by a cup of coffee prepared any number of ways in Austria. 

By the time lunch comes around after a morning visiting the outstanding Salzburg Museum (winner of the European Museum Of The Year 2009), and its companion, the Panorama Museum, where a circular painting of 19th-century Salzburg is displayed, it's time to sample another of the city's fine restaurants.  For something mod, try Magazine, where food is as much an art as the paintings at the Residenz Gallery.  Magazine's contemporary approach to food challenges conventional perceptions with dishes such as its fois gras sampler, which includes an extraordinary pâté wrapped in a praline crust, as refreshing as the crisp wines that accompany the food on a warm summer afternoon.  The sharp staff add to the overall experience with their expertise.

After more sightseeing in the afternoon, maybe out to Hellbrunn Palace to see the trick fountains, feet and mind will be demanding a rest, which means it's time to stop in at Scio's Specereyen for a nipple or two.  Nipples of Venus, to be precise, which are exquisite concoctions of chocolate-covered chestnut cream set on a thin bed of cake.  Owner Ludwig Rigaud, whose family owned the Mozart Haus before it was donated to the city as a museum, now finds his little shop at Sigmund Haffnergasse 16 full of chococonnoisseurs over the moon with Venus.  Notice the unusual table just inside the entrance; this was a traditional table for payment back in the day when silver coins chimed with genuineness while counterfeits plunked down with a thud. 

Sporer Hausmischung keeps the blood flowing
view from the Museum of Modern Art's M32 restaurant
The Blue Goose knows how to please the palate

While Venus is inspiring, lifting the spirits further can be done—literally—at Sporer, a third-generation maker of fine spirits whose shop on the famous Getreidegasse remains one of the traditional purveyors surviving the onslaught of multinational corporate brands that have invaded the street in recent years.  Sporer is a convivial place, a standup bar where a few minutes catching up with friends is a daily ritual before and/or after lunch and/or dinner.  Any excuse for a delectable dose of the recipes will do.

The traditionally hearty fare for which this part of the Europe is well known is found at s' Herzl, a small place big on ambience and generous portions.  Lovers of sausage, pork, sauerkraut and friendly service will be very pleased in this restaurant, which is owned by the famous Goldener Hirsch just a couple of doors down.  A few doors further is the Blue Goose.  With indoor and outdoor seating, this is the place for a garden meal on a balmy day; finishing with the basil sorbet leaves mouth and stomach utterly refreshed after perhaps the delectable cream of asparagus soup or one of the many beefy main courses on the menu. 

Triangel is another favourite, an entirely unpretentious restaurant across the square from the three Festival Halls hosting the Salzburg Festival's main activities, yet the very same people, performers and audience members alike, who loom large in the darkened venues turn very convivial once the show is over, with Triangel being one of their most popular haunts.

Maybe the most impressive of all is Pfefferschiff, in a small building next to a small chapel located just north of the city.  This simple-looking place offers amazing taste sensations and is well worth the taxi ride.  The staff are super smooth in their service, deftly handling all the meals, wine, and special requests with aplomb.  Pfefferschiff is owned by the Fleischhaker family, which also owns the lovely Rosenvilla, a guesthouse where breakfast is a huge spread.  They know their food, these Fleischhakers.

Airplane enthusiasts will not want to miss a visit to Hangar 7, owned by Austria's Red Bull impresario Dietrich Mateschitz.  This ultramodern airplane exhibit hall at Salzburg Airport has a skybar called Mayday suspended over the entire floor as well as a restaurant, Ikarus, overlooking the planes from the side. 

When you simply can't eat another bite in this wonderful city, have a serving from the bottle of Sporer Hausmischung purchase earlier knowing that this traditional digestif made from herbs will keep the stomach happy until tomorrow, when you can do it all over again.

Salzburg is well connected to Zurich with feeder connections to international and intercontinental flights.  Salzburgers seem to prefer Zurich and SWISS for their longhaul flights since the SWISS network extends from destinations in North and South America to Africa, Asia, and of course many cities in Europe.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: R.L.B

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