This Austrian dish, familiar to anyone who has visited a winery post-harvest in the east of the country, is frequently offered as a snack to be enjoyed with fresh, young white wines of the vintage glugged by the jug. Tangy, creamy, gently spiced, and very moreish, it is wonderful smeared generously over a good rye bread. This is my version and I like to crunch on peppery radishes and quickly pickled cucumber with it, but it is just delicious on its own with the bread. It couldn't be simpler to make.
(serves 6 as a snack with wine)
- 200g soft cream cheese, curd cheese, or quark
- 100g cottage cheese
- 50g gherkins, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, very finely chopped (use spring onions if you prefer them)
- 2 tsp caraway seeds, toasted for 30 seconds in a hot pan
- 1 tsp paprika
- Juice of ¼ of a lemon
- Pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne (optional)
How simple is this? All you have to do is put everything into a bowl and mix well, so that all the ingredients are distributed evenly throughout. You could chill it for half an hour in the fridge if you like, though you don't have to, then spread generously on the bread of your choosing (I've mentioned rye, but bagels are belting with this too). If you like it, sprinkle a bare minimum of rusty red cayenne pepper on top for colour and a prickle of warmth. Top with a sprig of parsley if you are feeling particularly decorative, but this is really all about simplicity, eating and sipping, or glugging (I glug).
Wine: A grüner veltliner is the obvious choice here, as is a riesling, both of which are wonderful from Austria. If red is more your thing, a zweigelt is perfect. Loire reds, full of crunchy red fruits, and simple, juicy Beaujolais work too.