On an unprecedentedly warm and sunny day for early March, I found my way into Martin’s Place by the scent of freshly baked cakes that filled the air on Pannierstrasse. It was as though the pied piper himself was there, luring me in to satisfy my sugar addiction.
Once inside, I found myself in a state of distress, unable to decide what to try first. I was pressed up against the glass cabinet, ogling all the cakes, tarts, and jars on display. Luckily, Joseph and his wife sensed my dilemma (a problem they must be well accustomed to dealing with) and came to my aid.
At that moment, I was ushered to a seat and a frothy cappuccino was placed on the table in front of me, as well as two slices of cake. You know those endearing memories of visiting your grandparents when they dote on you with home-cooked cakes and biscuits? That is exactly how the Martins made me feel. I sensed that this was a family institution, where time-honoured techniques and values were held in high regard.
With my decision made for me, I was presented with a Sesame Cake, a traditional recipe from Joseph’s hometown and the Ludwig Cake, one of Joseph’s own creations, dreamt up from his experience as a patissier. It is a very rare occurrence to see the master behind such creations, flittering around inside his shop whilst chatting to his patrons.
Joseph Martin has an enviable career that only ever appear in the dreams of most. Originally from Tel Aviv, he studied the art of patisserie and pursued his passion in Paris where he learned from the famous patissier Lenȏtre and worked at the Hilton. Following this, he worked for the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, which as most of you food fanatics out there would know, is the home of the überfamous Sachertorte.
The Ludwig Cake was a marriage of layered buttercream and chocolate broken up by the citrusy tang of orange peel. Though its more humble appearance may mislead you to dismiss it as a simple butter sponge, the Sesame Cake is without a doubt one of the nicest cakes I have ever tried. Despite the large portion, it was not in the slightest way sickly, which, to my detriment, made it far too easy to finish. Its sponge-like texture was incredibly moist, every bite struck delicate notes of sesame and honey. All this finished with a thin layer of orange sauce and crumbled pistachio.
My visit to Martin’s Place was very much one to remember; I now understand why, at one o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, the tables are full and there is a queue of people lining up to order. To this date, I have never been inside a shop with the same levels of energy and warmth I experienced there. The environment they’ve created is mirrored into their selection of cakes, sweets, and pastries – you can taste the love of their craft in each morsel you place in your mouth.