What I love about having a lodge in the Austrian Alps is the accessibility to most of Europe being a short drive away. While I love being in Austria in the winter as I love the eerie whiteness of the mountain and glittery trees Richard loves it in the summer where he hikes through the valleys and mountains. He loves it as a base to drive to different places in Europe. Venice is 4 hours away, Munich 3 .
Driving through Europe in the summer on side roads really takes you through some wonderful scenery and villages. And you come across unexpected things. We once stopped at a local fair in a tiny village in Hungry and we bought some walnuts which were absolutely the best I have ever tasted and some locally made jams and paprika. All were made by the people of the village in their homes.
We were curious about Hisa Franko in Slovenia and it was only a few hours away. I have to say we were very lucky as the weather the day for our drive was glorious. Driving through Mittersil , Lienz and over the mountains to Tarvisio in Italy was picture perfect country side. Utterly unspoilt with cows lazing about sleepy villages. It was a throwback to an imagined gentler time.
Driving through Triglavski National Park and along windy roads in valleys toward Kobarid where Hisa Franko is was just so dreamy and peaceful. Our drive back alas through a different route in the pouring rain was not so pleasant!
We had seen Ana Ros and her husband Valter Kramer on Chefs Table. Their story intrigued me. Ana former diplomatic student without any cooking experience met and fell in love with her sommelier husband . They decided to take over his family’s small estate and restaurant over in Kobarid near the Italian border. An old house it was a roadside inn and during the war a hospital. Legend has it the Ernest Hemingway who was injured on the Isonzo Front was cured there. It is said he wrote ‘farewell to Arms’ in one of the rooms.
We had booked a room with a terrace and it was lovely. The covered terrace was large with a hammock a day bed comfortable sofas overlooking the fields and vegetable gardens. It was just so so chilled out relaxing as was the warm welcome when we arrived. This is a living home where three different generations live and there is a lovely feel of comfort and familiarity. We had heard about Valters bio dynamic wines and he was at the forefront of the renaissance of winemaking in Slovenia in the 1990’s.
He was at the forefront of the revival of orange wine which as I understand it is an old technique of winemaking from Armenian and Georgia. Its made of white grapes but processed like red wine. The skin is kept on to macerate an this what gives it orange amber colour. Valter is really passionate about collecting and promoting local winemakers, We took some up to our room well chilled it had a curious taste. I don’t know if its something that over time you could get used to as you become familiar to the taste. It was curiously interesting.
Completely self-taught Ana who speaks five languages and seems to be one of these people who can do anything she puts her mind to soon moved away from traditional food to creating a very seasonal menu with locally sourced produce. Ana often wanders around in the Soca valley picking wild herbs and flowers and developing a very distinct fresh food. Its truly organic They have a lovely herb and vegetable garden where things are picked daily to create and ever changing menu.
I have always felt that anything about food and eating is very subjective. It’s very personal. There is in my view no right or wrong way of eating or an objective view really on a dish. Richard and I had a completely different view on the food. We both loved the setting outside right by the fields. It was perfection. Our curiosity about the wines was greatly helped by the sommelier who introduced us to several local wines that were completely new to us.
When it came to the food we opted for the 5 course menu. What soon became very evident was the sheer beauty of elegantly presented dishes with flowers and herbs. Jellies and foams artfully arranged to compliment fish or fowl. While Richard simply loved the food, the taste and texture, I felt it was clever but not tasty. It wasn’t for me memorable taste wise. I can still savour the taste of certain dishes long after the experience but I cant here. My notes and photos tell me what I had. But for Richard he loved the taste of the wild herbs the crisp bread, the fish. Breakfast outside the next morning was all homemade breads cured meats and jam.
I loved the overall experience and feel and I do want to go again.