I have recently returned from a rather wet week in Austria, staying at the fabulous Gartenhotel Theresia in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria who are now in their 3rd generation of owner-managers. They are the first hotel in the Salzburg region – and only ones in Hinterglemm – to offer fully organic cuisine and permitted to display the organic seal of approval. We had only two dry days but we wouldn’t let the weather beat us, so we climbed mountains with large umberellas supplied by the hotel, cycled on their bikes and zip-wired a 150ft up. We had a lot of fun but the hotel food and hospitality is what really made our holiday.
At breakfast you could pack a picnic for lunch time or eat at the hotel for lunch, soup, pasta etc., In the afternoon at 3.30 cakes and desserts along with hot and cold drinks were offered. The staff were so friendly, every one of them, very helpful and the food was out of this world. 5 courses most evenings – it should have been 4 but I’m afraid I just couldn’t resist their plate of cheeses. We visited the Organic cheese dairy with our hotel owner, Mrs. Brettermeier which is called Sinnlehenhof, near Leogang. Only 19 milk cows are kept to make 6 different cheeses, Tilsitter, mountain cheese and Camembert are the main ones. They taste so good. One which I really liked had little seeds in and we asked what they were as I couldn’t quite put my finger on the taste, they happened to be caraway seeds. At breakfast time a whole tray of honey on the comb was available to cut off and have with freshly made organic bread/toast and this was really lovely too. I bought a jar of the honey to take home with me.
So, back to the 7 course Gala dinner evening. This was on the Sunday evening, a day after we had arrived. At breakfast that morning we ticked our choices on the menu for what we wanted to eat. Alongside the main menu for the day there was always a vegetarian menu and most days a local one too with regional dishes. You could choose a mixture from all the menus.
My first starter was from the vegetarian menu, Salad of red lentils. On top of the bed of lentils was a small bunch of very light and whispy cress. The lentils were in a vinaigrette dressing and it was very tasty.
Next up was the Cream of parsnip soup. (I’ve titled the photos the same as what was translated for us on the menus). This was lovely, creamy and smooth and served piping hot. It wasn’t overly ‘parsnipy’ if you understand what I mean, some times parsnips can be very strong but this was very subtle.
The large scallop was deliciously meaty and not ‘fishy’ at all and was cooked to perfection. Served with tiny pieces of cubed tomatoes, risotto and a yellow sauce – not quite sure what the sauce was but it wasn’t mustard. Again, beautifully presented and tasting divine.
The very light sorbet was a classic palate cleanser which is served during heavy or multi-course meals. This had a very subtle taste of peach, not too strong or overpowering.
The veal was cooked very tender and pink, it was so nice, no fat or gristle. Served with tasty and tangy sun dried tomatoes, small pieces of courgettes, onion, aubergine, truffle mash potato, a rich jus and creamy sauce. The jus was out of this world! Every mouthful made me say ‘Mmm, mmm…’
This was a lovely white chocolate mousse with the texture of ice-cream – but it wasn’t – and covered in a layer of dark, crisp chocolate. It melted beautifully in the mouth.
Served on the plate very prettily were slices of bright lime coloured star fruit, a strawberry, a physalis – which I always thought were kumquats, so I learnt something new – and a large spoonful of pineapple purée. It all went together delightfully.
The cheese board was the final course. I don’t know a lot about cheeses and only really started to eat it recently apart from Cheddar. As no one in the house eats cheese I never buy any as it soon goes off, so I was in my element here. Every night I had cheese after my dessert. It was supposed to have been instead of dessert on other nights apart from this one but as our waiter said “everything is possible”. The cheese was served with dark German rye bread, wonderfully fresh and organic of course. A large spoonful of blackcurrant jam on the side went great with the cheeses. It was difficult to find out the names of the cheeses as they were all made locally, not something you can find over here, unfortunately.
To top off the evenings gastronomies I thought I’d have the digestif recommended by the Maître d’hôtel, a ‘Beetroot’ schnapps by Herzog – again this is locally made in the largest town in the area, Saalfelden. It made my eyes water just sniffing it! It was very ‘earthy’ and I’m afraid that it sort of ‘repeated’ itself for the rest of the evening. A digestif which was on the menu on another evening was hot ameretto topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of chocolate, which was lovely, especially whilst sitting in the bar with the log fire glowing – yes, it really was that chilly!
We drank a fabulous bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, from NZ to wash down all the food. It was so fruity – in both taste and smell – of pink grapefruit and peaches.
I wouldn’t hesitate on recommending Hotel Theresia and would love to return, perhaps next winter. Well I have to as I promised Mrs. Brettermeier that I would and I can’t break a promise now can I?
Living life, loving cake