Sunday, April 22, 2007

Morwald makes the difference (Vienna)

Sunday night after the opera was my last "gourmet" meal in Vienna and I chose Morwald im Ambassador, a beautiful 2nd floor dining room in the Ambassador Hotel where Chef Toni Morwald has given his name, but is nowhere near the kitchen to be seen. The helm has been recently assumed by Italian Marco Pedrelli and he seems to be managing quite well in the wake of one of Austria's premier chefs. As I proceeded down the street after the magnificent performance of "La Fille du Regiment" who did I hear none other than the soprano voice of Renee Fleming calling my name. I was early for dinner, so we spent a 1/4 hour catching up before I proceeded on to dinner. I was in a small balconied dining room with only 6 tables, was made of steel and glass that hung over the Baroque Neuermarkt and adorable fountain (too bad for the "M" arches symbol sign on a pole below). The simple granite floor (not good when you move your chair), white tables and linens, yellow leather chairs and no-smoking environment was most warm. The crystal, silver and china did not compare to the previous nights, but it IS the food one eats.

I started with s Stryian Sauvignon Blanc 2006 from Thomas Strohmaier which was quite nice and would work well with much of my meal. It sported a big finish, quiet citrus and a bit of acidity with lots of crispness. An amuse arrived of PARFAIT of STURGEON on one side and DUCK CONSOMME with DUCK WONTON on the other, although the handsome dark waiter insisted it was Consomme on one side and Wonton on the other. It was a small language barrier, and I hope he did not feel bad. He even tried to pour the screwtop wine with the cap on at one point! As he returned a huge pot of bamboo fell as a woman carried in her Yorkie and knocked it over; we all jumped! The meal began: SMOKED CHAR was served with TURNIP, CABBAGE, GREEN PEA MOUSSE & Green Tea Lemon Jelly. I believe that the Austrian Char may be a new friend of mine. Next came a magnificent LOBSTER & ASPARAGUS dish combining both Green and MARCHFELD White Asparagus slightly cooked and cut think a la carpaccio and the Lobster served in a Potato Straw Nest with some fabulous field greens (some looked like whole evergreen trees!). SAUTEED GREEN ASPARAGUS were served in a rich thick sauce with fresh MORELS & BEEF MARROW so good I had to use the bread to get every last drop of sauce. I did however notice that nobody every folded or replaced my napkin when I stepped away to the WC. Not a big deal, but a nice touch if done.

FILLET of ST PIERRE or John Dory came with GRATINATED RATATOUILLE CRUST over Tomato RISOTTO. The fish was delish and came from the Biscay Bay off France and had a light but exciting Green Pea Sauce. I switched to an amazing crazy legs red called OPUS EXIMIUM Cuvee No. 15 2002 from Gesellmann n the Burgenland. A blend of Pinot Noir (locally called Sankt Laurent), Zweigelt & Blaufrankisch it was a great treat and hits the list of top Austrian reds for me. It was perfect with the ORGANIC FILLET of VEAL served en croute with CARROT-SPONGE CAKE, WILD GARLIC MOUSSE and YOUNG SPINACH. The meat came from nearby Lower Austria (Waldfirtel) and may be the best I have ever had. At this point I noticed an older couple at the fountain below both in wheelchairs. The held hands and seemed to be line-dancing in their chairs; it was very touching.

A cheese plate came with some nice options but a bit too chilled and they were all French (I really wanted Austrian) or Spanish. Since I could not choose dessert, my waiter graciously offered a small selection:
HAZELNUT in Caramel Pastry
A yummy WILD BLUEBERRY item and more....sorry I was tired and can't read my notes again.

I did make it back to my hotel safely (well, it was only 5 minutes) and off to bed for another day of food and opera.