Things

Inside Severin Corti’s Kitchen

5th July 2016

Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Dan Dennison

The Viennese restaurant critic picks out an insect condiment, a beautiful and effective pepper mill and a selection of extraordinary cookbooks

INGREDIENTS

Venison
“Venison is cheap meat if you buy the whole animal and put it in the freezer – I have quite a few pieces here. Rub a leg of venison with a few spices and Szechuan pepper, some herbs from the garden, and cook it on the barbecue for 7-8 minutes – fantastic.” We try the leftover from Severin’s weekend barbecue in our banh mi sandwich and it is, indeed, fantastic.

Cricket garum from the Nordic Food Lab »
This mysterious plastic bottle catches our attention and Severin says “ah yes” and holds it up for a closer look. “This I got from the Nordic Food Lab at Noma. They are thinking about ways to use insects in our diet more regularly. Billions of people eat insects already but it seems so weird to us in the west. They know insects are much more environmentally friendly to eat than meat, so they are researching ways to get us interested. And one thing they did was make a kind of fish sauce, or garum as they put it, which is the traditional Roman fish sauce from antique times, except instead of anchovies they did it with crickets. It tastes very delicate and is a good replacement for fish sauce. The problem is, this costs about 10 times more than normal fish sauce, so there is a way to go.”

Allspice in an old celery salt jar
“I love this jar. It originally contained celery salt which my mother bought from a shop that doesn’t exist anymore. It dates back to the late 60s I think. I always remember it on my mother’s spice board. She hardly ever used it, that’s why it kept standing there forever and ever. When she sold the house, there was all this stuff. All of a sudden I see this little spice jar, it reminds me of my childhood. The celery salt is long gone – there is allspice in there now.”

Chen Nian Hua Tiao Chiew rice wine »
“A lovely Chinese rice wine. It’s not something I use much, but it’s got a cool label.”

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OBJECTS

WauWau pepper mill »
“These are from a Viennese designer who makes them by hand. There’s a lot of different designs. He uses a Swiss grinding machinery that does a great job. It’s really effective and it’s better than Peugeot actually.”

Nesting Russian doll measuring cups »
“When I write recipes the newspaper, I refer to a lot of websites and American recipes always have these cup measurements. These nesting dolls convert them for you – and they look nice as well. I think my wife got them as a present.”

La Giannina stovetop espresso maker »
“This is something I’d like to talk about. When we first wake up, we have a coffee each, then I drink another one. Most of the time we use the normal Bialetti thing, which works perfectly fine, but then someone told me that aluminium is not too good for health reasons, so I was looking for a stainless steel espresso maker, then I found this. It’s a great 60s Italian design. You open it like this – no need to screw. You can do up to three espressos like this, and if you turn the container around you can do up to 6. That’s smart, no? It’s a really simple system. Want a coffee? [laughs]”

Vintage weighing scales
We express admiration for a weighing scales on one of the shelves. “That’s cool, no? There was a time when Majken and I were out of work, after I finished my restaurant, and we went to flea markets a lot. This is one of the pieces we bought for almost nothing.”

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BOOKS

Kochbuch für Alle, Franz Ruhm »
“This is an Austrian cookbook I like. It’s been reissued many times, but I think the original edition is better because with each section he gives you additional information. It’s a very reliable traditional Austrian cookbook.” – Severin

Le Meilleur and le Plus Simple de la France, Joël Robuchon »
“This is a fantastic cookbook for classic French dishes. Simple recipes with good info and it covers all the regions. He did another one called Le Meilleur and Le Plus Simple des Pommes du Terre, which is only potato recipes.”

Verdura: Vegetables Italian Style, Viana La Place »
“This is fantastic, I bought it in the Books for Cooks shop in Notting Hill 20 years ago. Great traditional Italian vegetarian recipes. Really easy.”

A Taste of the Past, András Koerner »
“This one was written in English by a Jewish man who emigrated from Budapest and wrote down traditional Hungarian recipes from his childhood. It’s almost impossible to find good Hungarian cookbooks nowadays, because Communism has destroyed so much. This was preserved by the fact he went to London. Hungarian and Austrian cuisine have a lot in common.”

Kalbsschnitzel “Casa Mahler”, Ludwig Karpath »
“This is another book I like, written in pre-war Austria by a man who was interested in food and collected recipes from friends when he was invited to their houses. Just by running through these recipes, a whole defunct world comes up again. Pre-war Vienna I think was one of the most exciting cities in the world, with this incredible heritage, with all this talent that we chased out of our country, I don’t know why. There are dishes that show the cosmopolitanism and worldliness that’s been totally lost since then. But it starts with very traditional recipes like heart in cream sauce, they also have trout the French way, and lobster Newburg, stuff like that. Just seeing how bourgeois households would entertain their guests back then is fascinating.”

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Posted 5th July 2016

In Things

 

Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Dan Dennison

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