Burgenland Heuriger meets Nordic cuisine
As we were sipping our aperitifs - a Swedish apple cider - Eduard and Stefanie Tscheppe-Eselböck, the couple that runs winery and Heuriger Gut Oggau in Austrian Burgenland, wished us a warm welcome to their first ever culinary collaborative dinner. As Eduard said, their Heuriger typically focuses on cold fare, but Amass - the Copenhagen restaurant that staffed the kitchen last Saturday - would also provide us with some warm dishes. And of course there was wine, not only from Gut Oggau itself, but also some natural nectar from like-minded vinters in Spain and Italy.
The setting was familiar; a narrow courtyard flanked by whitewashed old buildings, broadening at the far end. Blooming oleanders, vines and a treasure trove of old parafernalia (including a dovecote with approximately fifty pigeonholes) decorated the elongated space. Lengthwise they had laid a long communal table for an international group of roughly 75 guests. The Aussies living in Berlin, the French cool dude, Salzburgers living in Vienna, the Englishman, they all shared a passion for Burgenland, natural wines and/or Scandinavian cuisine.
Conviviality at the communal table
Matt Orlando, Amass’s chef-owner, who worked at illustrious restaurants such as The Fat Duck and Noma, had sent two of his most trusted employees – sous chef Swiss-Korean American Max Bogenmann and Oxford-born assistant manager/sommelier Henry Stevens – with a couple of suitcases full of fermented ingredients to Austria. Amass is a Nordic restaurant after all and as the growing season up north is short, the two young gentlemen explained, you had to pickle and ferment for the long winter. Subsequently, none of the dishes we had were without anything fermented.
Another part of Amass’s philosophy is to minimize waste. They take it so seriously that even the stalks of the herbs are used. Fermented, dried, powdered and sprinkled on top of fermented potato crackers, it tasted like nori seaweed. They also call it nori, despite the fact that there isn’t any seaweed in the mixture.
Neusiedlersee eel and egg yolk
After an array of small snacks -among others fermented tiny green plums (main picture), Neusiedler eel with blackened garlic and egg yolk, fermented slices of turnip-, we got a lovely bread of, once again, fermented potato with a spread of sunflower seed and kale. This Danish favorite was highly appreciated at the long table full of chatter in Oggau too.
Two other top dishes were grilled white cabbage with a brown butter and miso sauce dusted with shaved cured egg yolk, and slow-cooked pork belly (lacquered with reduced and caramelized whey) that we were invited to wrap – taco-style – in a lettuce leaf with a sauce of, yes, fermented red chilli’s and pumpkin seeds. The pork was perfectly succulent with a lovely crackling skin, but the sauce was too spicy. Not that we couldn’t handle the heat or disliked the sauce, it just was too overpowering.
For dessert, the Danes were inspired by the bounty of Austrian fruit. Grilled peaches and apricots were served with a mixture of berries and an elderberry infused cream.
Throughout there was a constant flow of wine, all natural obviously. Everybody seemed to have his or her favorite. For my neighbour at the long table, the first to be served, the Welschriesling/Grüner Veltliner cuvee Theodora (Gut Oggau), remained the top choice. Others championed the only red wine, a fascinating Spanish cuvee of Monastrell and Sumoll from the Penedés area, served chilled. For me the Gut Oggau Weiss 2016 stood out, not least because it paired so well with the pork. Spring frost and summer rain made 2016 a hard year, but the autumn sun ensured a small but potent harvest, after which Eduard decided to only make one red, one white and one rosé each with grapes from different fields, harvested and vinified together.
The event was an opportunity for Gut Oggau to showcase their excellent wines in combination with more sophisticated cuisine than the usual Heuriger fare, which for a high-end winery makes a lot of sense. For the patrons it was a chance to sample Nordic cuisine. As good as it was, you’d hope Nordic cuisine is more than fermented goodies.
Heuriger und Weingut Oggau
Hauptstraße 31 – Oggau (Austria)
T: +43 664 20 69 298
Refshalevej 153 – Copenhagen (Denmark)
T: +45 4358 4330