What I find best about flavours and pleasure they provoke, is that they are never statical, they change all the time. In our childhood most of us probably found bitter flavours unpleasant – we preferred the sweet fruity tastes, while sourness often screw up our faces. Older we get, wider becomes the spectrum of flavours we enjoy – there are flavours which require time to get acquired with.
As a cook I always strive to widen my flavour horizons and each new one allows to me and to my team to make new steps in different new directions. We are trying to not follow trends but to develop our own ways.
One of these has been developed through cooperation with the Orangerie of the Schönbrunn castle in Vienna under management of Helmut Karner. Helmut is in charge of one of the biggest and most impressive citrus collections in Europe. Our ways crossed for the first time around 10 years ago and since that moment at the Steiereck we are privileged to be able to use around 35 different citrus varieties.
Having such a great choice available, we are constantly challenged to deeply research the flavours of each of them, to be able to use them properly. We have through years aqiured a great knowledge and yet there is still so much to discover, learn and experience.
The acidity of the citrus fruit in all its diversity has to be used in a smart and balanced way to be pleasant and delicate instead of becoming too dominant.
The variety of citrus flavours that we encounter every day is limitless – from the ethereal flavours like those of bergamot, the aromatic sweet lemonade flavours, the pink lemon nuances, the floral flavours that remind of coco and the sweet-sour bitter flavours.
Another flavour subject that is keeping us busy since long time is the world of mushrooms.
After we have been working with ceps, chantarelles, morels and all other wide known varieties, three years ago we started focusing more deeply onto the subject of mushrooms. We moved from the usual to the unusual and less known varieties.
The world opening in front of us is unbelievable. When you submerge into the flavour universe of mushrooms, the borders disappear and you discover their exceptional variety and depth.
Fermenting the mushrooms brings new wealth of flavours and drying them later on changes the flavours again in a completely different direction. The flavours we get at the end are wonderfully rich. They have it all – a beautiful salty acidity, a nice caramel sweetness as well as the deep mushroom umami notes.
A wealth of flavours that we would never ever want to miss anymore in our kitchen.
Heinz Reitbauer, Steiereck (Vienna, Austria)