20th October 2016
Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Yousef Eldin
Kalas salt »
“I grew up with this salt,” says Konstantin. “My parents always cooked with it. It’s just simple Greek salt and you don’t need a lot of it – it’s very intense.” “When we go to Greece, he comes back with like 25 kilos,” says Manuela. “The first time, nine or 10 years ago, they checked us at Thessaloniki airport and what does the guy see? White stuff. Luckily Konstantin was able to speak Greek with him – he let us go through. It was a real situation. Only after that we thought, oh my god it looks like a pile of cocaine.”
Gegenbauer apple vinegar »
Konstantin has a bottle of apple vinegar from Erwin Gegenbauer, who we also interviewed during our Vienna trip. He uses it to great effect in the pear and white asparagus salad.
Costa Navarino olive oil »
Konstantin has a connection with the family who run this company and the resort where the olive grove is located – and he swears by the oil. “Yes, it’s very, very good oil. The best olive oil is from the Kalamata area.” Manuela adds: “They have olive trees that are hundreds of years old – big trunks, very old – and everything in that area is very rural. Whenever you see lots of grass, really heavily-growing trees – this is the place you buy your olive oil. (If there’s no green, it means they work with this Roundup [weed control] shit – it’s poison.)”
Strohmeier wines »
Konstantin and Manuela are committed fans of natural wine. “The really good stuff in Austria comes from the area south of Graz,” says Manuela. They mention Strohmeier as one of Austria’s natural wine pioneers. “They were the beginners and 20 years ago everyone thought they were crazy. Nobody believed in them.” They also speak highly of Sepp Muster, whose extraordinary wine, which comes in a distinctive stone bottle, we try at O Boufés.
Perceval carving knife »
“I don’t really like fancy knives,” says Konstantin. “For me a knife has to be really practical. I don’t want it to break when it falls. In the kitchen I always have one small knife, one medium knife, one big knife – no more. Perceval’s knives are very practical. And sharp. The guy who runs this company, he’s a former chef and his only aim was to make knives that can cut everything.” Konstantin also uses their 9.47 table knives in both restaurants.
Mark Thomas champagne glasses »
Konstantin and Manuela serve sparkling wine in these beautiful champagne glasses made in Austria. “I like that they’re not round,” says Konstantin.
We ask about a baking mould hanging on the wall in the kitchen. “Ah that’s a very Viennese thing,” says Manuela. “You put chocolate in it and what comes out is called Katzenzungen, or cat’s tongues. We got it from the flea market.” “No, from my mother,” Konstantin interjects. “But she got it from the flea market, right? If you grew up in the 70s, these will be familiar.” Is it decorative or do they ever use it? “Oh never,” says Konstantin, “but it’s fun to have.”
The Real Greek at Home: Dishes from the Heart of the Greek Kitchen, Theodore Kyriakou »
Konstantin’s favoured Greek book for home cooking, by the man who founded the Real Greek restaurant chain and now runs The Greek Larder in London. “I think he’s good. What I really like it’s that it’s family stuff – things you’d really do at home. Basic Greek cuisine, very good. It’s a good cookbook.”
Stéphane Reynaud’s 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down and Eat, Stéphane Reynaud »
“This book is very nice and beautiful. It covers all kinds of French cuisine.”
Eating with Chefs: Family Meals from the World’s Most Creative Restaurants, Per-Anders Jörgensen »
The photographer behind this excellent book, which gives an insight into communal meals at great restaurants around the world, has also done the photography for Konstantin’s new cookbook.
Inside Roger Phillips’ Kitchen – The master of mushrooms on his favourite vegetable, a divisive kitchen gadget and his two most prized food books
Inside Erwin Gegenbauer’s Kitchen – Vienna’s “vinegar pope” on two revelatory types of wheat, a brilliant alternative to olive oil and his favourite Austrian wine
Inside Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Kitchen – The pioneering bar owner on an amazing green tea with toasted rice, some crazy-looking champagne glasses and two cocktail books that inspire him