The memory is still clear in his head. Erwin Schroettner was only 11 years old when he cooked his first meal at his home in Austria. Growing up, eating fresh vegetables and fruits was definitely what helped the chef develop his special relationship with food. In his restaurant, Cafe Katja, you can see a picture of the farm he grew up hanging on the wall.
At Cafe Katja, Schroettner serves traditional Austrian dishes, like schnitzel, bratwurst, and spätzle, but the most important thing, he says, is the beer—served with the proper amount of foam, which is rare in the United States.
Schweinshaxe with Apple Cider
We all agree that Austrian food matches perfectly with a glass of beer. However, since the idea for this story was to suggest unexpected pairings, Chef Schroettner also selected another traditional drink — a special apple cider from Austria.
According to his friend, cider producer Hans Reisetbauer, “this cider is made from meticulously farmed apples and is vinified like Champagne, aging it for 18 month on the lees (yeast). A dosage of apple juice is added to induce secondary fermentation. The result is a dry apple wine with very fine bubbles that reveals the complexity and nobility of the apple.” Schroettner pairs this citric beverage with a dish called Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle), served with the same sides as his mother did: Sauerkraut and Servietten knoedel (a kind of bread dumpling).
Linzer Torte with Rasperry Schnapps
To finish the meal, Schroettner chose a very traditional Austrian dessert: Linzer Torte (a crumbly pastry made with a hazelnut crust and usually filled with homemade raspberry jam). He paired it with a glass of raspberry schnapps. In his words, “with all the spices in the linzer torte, the schnapps gives the dessert a fulfilling round finish.”