To me, nothing says SUMMER better than an ear of just-picked corn, boiled for a minute or two, then anointed with unsalted butter and a bit of kosher salt. But chef Helmut Österreicher has his own ideas on the subject. At Österreicher im MAK, his restaurant in Vienna’s Museum of Applied Arts, the award-winning chef whips up a deliriously delicious corn cream soup, Maiscreme-Suppe mit Krauter-Popcorn. It’s smoother-than-smooth, impossibly fresh tasting. And, to add a bit of whimsy to a humble veggie soup, Österreicher tops it with lighter-than-air herbed popcorn.
And, this stellar soup is only part of the good news about Österreicher im MAK. In his effort to merge classical and contemporary versions of Austrian cooking, chef Österreicher woos guests with a quivering white asparagus panna cotta (below) surrounded by “raw” vegetable salad; elegant pastry pockets filled with sun-dried cherry tomatoes and fresh basil; yellow curry risotto topped with grilled shrimp and green beans; and a totally old-fashioned, totally yummy veal “hamburger” with mashed potatoes and grilled onions.
As befits a restaurant in a museum of applied arts, Österreicher im MAK is an unusually beautiful space, with sleek, elegant furnishings, stylish table settings, and creative lighting, including a signature chandelier that no one who sees it will ever forget. The restaurant also offers one of Vienna’s most captivating gardens, where lunch is served. (Photo below from The New York Times.)
I’ve been thinking about Herr Österreicher's amazing corn soup ever since I tasted it during a visit in June. Last week I attempted to whip up my own cream of corn soup (a chilled version since it was nearly 80 degrees), using Olathe Sweet Corn. (I’m in Telluride, Colorado at the moment, with the town of Olathe, renowned for its corn, just about an hour away.) Using a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks – “In the Hands of a Chef” by Jody Adams and Ken Rivard -- I dutifully made corn stock from the stripped cobs, sautéed the kernels with leeks and shallots, and pureed and blended the whole shebang using both Cuisinart and blender. It was a helluva lot of work, but it was delicious and handsome with its crunchy sprinkle of diced cucumber, avocado, red onion and tomato. You’ll find this Chilled Smooth Corn Soup with Tomatoes, Avocado, and Lime in “In the Hands of a Chef.” Available on Amazon.com for $13.98.