Tag Archives: coffee

Sugar and Spice ……

21 May

 

   GetInline-11     IMG_6072 The best Konditorei in town

Sitting in the shadow of Mönchsberg, on the corner of Herbert van Karajan Platz in Salzburg is Niemetz, the most delightful and delicious of the Konditoreien in town.  I was only in Salzburg for a fleeting one and half days, as part of my ICOM Costume Committee project, but I still managed to find time to visit Niemetz twice. Just around the corner is the baroque fancy of the Pferdeschwemme (horse bath) with its rearing horse sculpture and pastel murals on the pedimented wall behind.  Its 18th century theatricality is echoed in the décor of Niemetz, which has an elegant pistachio green and rose pink frontage.  Inside the paintwork is picked out in a profusion of gold, befitting of a Mozart opera or Marie Antoinette boudoir (it conjures up the same delicate feel as the Sofia Coppola film).  At the front of the café a Madonna figure dressed in a pink and ivory brocade offers a sartorial reminder of the importance of the Catholic church to the town, both historically and today (church bells still peal regularly through the day in Salzburg).

 

IMG_6066Niemetz’s appropriately dressed Madonna

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the pink 1920seque packaging

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As someone who can overly excited by the mere sight of a great piece of vintage packaging I was particularly charmed by the Niemetz boxes and wrappings, all in the house pink, decorated with an eighteenth century design à la the 1920s (think of the wonderful George Barbier fashion illustrations).

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The famous Schwedenbomben

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But of course it was the cakes which we had really come for and what a selection.  Strawberry tartlets nestled next to chocolate pyramids and delicately feathered cake slices.  Our first visit to Niemetz was in celebration of our friend Dorothea’s birthday where we joined her colleagues in wishing her many happy returns and in sampling Niemetz’s signature product – Schwedenbomben, edible missiles of light and fluffy marshmallow coated in chocolate.  For our second visit we treated ourselves to a well earned break in our project by studying the diverse cake selection more closely.  It didn’t take me long to make up my mind and plump for the Mozarttorte, which echoed in cake form the ubiquitous Salzburg Mozartkugel, with layers of chocolate encasing a centre of liquor drenched pistachio marzipan. What better way to start an afternoon of hard, serious thinking than with such a slice of chocolate perfection, accompanied by a strong black coffee?

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Mozarttorte and a cup of coffee – perfect!

The Niemetz konditorei started back in the 1890s, in Linz, and the famous Scwhedenbomben were first created in the 1920s.  There are now three Niemetz locations; as well as the Salzburg café there is the original Linz shop as well as one in Linz Station.  Alas, it appears that not everyone is as appreciative of Niemetz’s charms as my ICOM group and in recent years the company has struggled to remain financially afloat.  Nevertheless a Facebook page set up to encourage people to support Niemetz has had a certain amount of success; earlier this year The Austrian Times reported that the company was having difficulty supplying the demand for Schwedenbomben, such was the interest generated by the Facebook page.

For me, however, what appealed about Niemetz was its old world charm.  From its location on a Salzburg corner it provides a pink and pistachio oasis of friendly service, mouth watering delicacies and the opportunity to forget the care and stress of reality for a few gold tinted moments.  What I hope for Niemetz is that enough people discover its charm to ensure it a long future in Salzburg but never so many that it loses aurora of a konditorei fit for a princess.  If you’re ever in Salzburg be sure to pay Niemetz a visit!

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goodies in Niemetz

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Danforth Discovery

14 Dec

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La Cigogne, a French patisserie in the heart of Toronto’s Greek town

Yesterday morning I took a journey east to an area of Toronto known as the Danforth.  I was meeting up with Dorie who like me has a passion for lace and a fascination with the processes and practices of lace in its contemporary form.  The Danforth is well known as being Toronto’s Greek town and as I walked from the subway stop I passed plenty of shop and restaurant signs with Greek lettering.  However I was heading to the French Patisserie suggested by Dorie, La Cigogne.  As their website points out the stork, la Cigogne, is the bird of Alsace and the patisserie focuses on Alsatian delicacies.  But I also like the custom they described; ‘The stork is a symbol of good luck – a marker of happiness and fidelity throughout Alsace. Regional folklore says that when a child wanted a younger brother or sister, he would place a piece of sugar on the windowsill to attract the stork, in hopes that it would leave a precious package in exchange for a sweet treat.’

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A selection of the delectable cakes on offer at La Cigogne

I wonder how many hopeful older brothers and sisters would willingly give up their sweet treat?  I’m sure that they wouldn’t quickly part with any of the delicious pastries from La Cigogne.  It was hard for me to choose as there were so many tempting cakes and sweetmeats but after seeing their fresh almond croissant I felt that they needed to be tested.  It definitely rated as one of the best which I’ve had in Toronto.  The croissant itself was deliciously flaky and crisp and was generously filled with the rich almond paste which liberally covered the top.  It was finished with a scattering of flaked almonds and icing sugar, and I enjoyed it with a cup of black, French roast coffee.  Accompanied by chats on lace, contemporary textiles and life in Toronto it was the perfect way to spend a cold winter’s morning.

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One great almond croissant

Black stuff at Balzac’s

17 Oct

If you enjoy coffee as much as I do it’s always a delight to find a really good coffee shop, which serves great coffee and where you wile away the time, book in hand, or meet with friends for chat and a catch up.  I like a coffee shop where I can order my coffee in small, medium and large, and not a system of three words that all mean large.  I don’t need the barista to address me by name, a friendly smile and efficient service will do, and I’m always up for a tempting great to accompany my cup of coffee; it’s even better if it’s got a home baked feel to it.

So I’ve been particularly pleased to discover Balzac’s coffee roasters, a small chain of coffee shops which was started by Diana Olsen in Stratford, ON, home of Canada’s Shakespeare festival.  Diana’s degree in French literature, time in Paris and common passion for coffee which she shared with the French author Honoré de Balzac (he used to write furiously at night fuelled by cups of coffee) inspired to set up her first coffee shop based on a set of values that prioritises the production of artisanal, sustainable and great tasting coffee.  Now that original shop has turned into seven shops sprinkled around Toronto and Ontario.

I love the idea of a coffee shop inspired by a literary giant and one for whom coffee plays such an important role in story telling.  Reading through Balzac’s works you find that time and again, crucial action is centred around the social niceties of coffee making and taking; for example, in Eugiene Grandet where Eugiene defies her miser father to give her cousin Charles a cup of good sweet coffee before he learns about his father plan to take his own life, or Cousin Bette agreeing to take part in clandestine assignations in order to make sure she has enough money to buy the pure mocha she loves so well.  Coffee in Balzac work is far more than a drink with a pleasing aroma; in all of its social niceties and complexities it’s a  brilliant dramatic tool for revealing character and sending the narrative hurtling in new and unexpected directions.

So far I’ve been to two branches, the one in the distillery district, now an elegant place to shop, eat and enjoy the drama of the Soulpepper theatre co., and the one based at the public reference library.  What could be a better combination than books and coffee?  What I’ve enjoyed in both are the beautiful advertising posters, one to represent each shop and all designed in the graphic style of the 20s and 30s advertising that would have pleased artists like Bawden, Leighton and Nash.

To make me even happier I discovered that Balzac’s serve an almond croissant, which came close to my favourite almond croissant of all time (an honour that is currently held by Maison Blanc).  Balzac’s almond croissant is filled with a rich paste (rather than a crème patisserie which I’m not so keen on), topped with the same paste, so that it crisps in the oven and becomes beautifully crunchy and is sprinkled liberally with flaked almonds and baking sugar.  Almost, but just not quite, as perfect at Maison Blanc’s version.

In honour of this new found delight here are some of Balzac’s characters on coffee:

‘If you will but help me to my revenge,” the tradesman went on, “I will sink ten thousand francs in an annuity for you. Tell me, my fair cousin, tell me who has stepped into Josepha’s shoes, and you will have money to pay your rent, your little breakfast in the morning, the good coffee you love so well—you might allow yourself pure Mocha, heh! And a very good thing is pure Mocha!’ Crevel talking to Lisbeth, Cousin Bette

‘Well, let him have his coffee very strong; I heard Monsieur des Grassins say that they make the coffee very strong in Paris. Put in a great deal.’ Eugiene about Charles’ coffee, Eugiene Grandet

‘just think! they ask you sixteen sous for a cup of coffee alone on the place de l’ Odeon’ The Brotherhood of Consolation

‘The brother and sister poured in the coffee made by Sylvie herself on the table. When Sylvie had carefully prepared hers, she saw an atom of coffee-grounds floating on the surface. On this the storm broke forth.’ The Celibates

‘The pudding is delicious,’ said Genestas.  ‘Then w hat will you say to her coffee and cream?’ cried Benassis.  ‘I would rather hear our pretty hostess talk.’ The Country Doctor

‘Friendships struck up over Flicoteaux’s dinners were sealed in neighboring cafes in the flames of heady punch, or by the generous warmth of a small cup of black coffee glorified by a dash of something hotter and stronger.’ A Distinguished Provincial at Paris

‘Have we time to get a cup of coffee?’ said the artist, in a gentle voice, to Pierrotin.’ A Start in Life

‘It is pleasant to sit down and take a little coffee in quiet.’ The General in The Stepmother: A Drama in Five Acts