IT’S AN OLYMPIAN YEAR
Coming home from a holiday is a treat, so too is being back at work. This is the year that all dreams will come true for the JHP Gourmet Guide and its team. It’s an Olympian year. Gold, silver, bronze. Plated restaurants in South Africa proudly display their gold-rimmed plates (three-plated restaurants), silver (two plates) and bronze (one plate). Be part of the process – if you have a restaurant that you believe is worthy of reviewing, please let us know.
Gourmet Guide in Westendorf
Home-from-home for me is a little village in Austria, in 2011 voted the prettiest village in Europe. We fell in love with Westendorf more than 20 years ago, and have skied there as a couple, with young children and now as a family of adults with partners. The appeal remains unchanged – we can ski to our front door; we can eat in or eat out at one of the many inns – but most importantly the villagers have become our friends. Admittedly one’s sense of self-preservation increases incrementally with one’s years, so my skiing has got slower. My aim? To have a good, active break, with no breaking of bones! For two weeks, we do not lock doors or drive, (other than a taxi trip to nearby Kitzbuhel) and this year I stayed away from social media and SA news. I have returned rejuvenated, rewired and inspired to make 2020 my best year ever, determined to shed the kilos gained on the slopes (all muscle, of course).
Our first traditional Austrian meal is always at Restaurant Berger, where the next generation are now serving us. Here grostl is the house speciality – a pan of potato cubes, fried pork bits, cabbage and perhaps even leftovers, topped with a fried egg. My Weiner schnitzel with cranberry sauce and pommes frites could not be more classic, nor more scrumptious. Local beer, and a schnapps or two, and we felt at home. Home is where the heart is, or where family congregate to play, laugh and chill – and feast! We managed to conjure up a few memorable meals in our apartment, from lentil bobotie to chilli chicken with sweet potato bake and even my favourite cheesecake recipe, demanded by my oldest son.
The morning and afternoon breaks in alpine huts meant rum and hot chocolate, or schnapps, dubbed by locals as ‘the breakfast of heroes’. I always skied better after a few. Memorable mountain spreads included a fondue at Berggasthof Zieplhof. Another characteristic wooden chalet halfway up the mountain, surrounded by trees capped with snow, is where we devour schweinshaxe, at Berggasthaus Stimmlach. Ordered two days in advance, here pork shank is carved at the table, served with potatoes (baked, fried or dumplings) and gravy. We have a habit of taking our own apple sauce. Another round of schnapps and we were ready to head for bed.
Whilst my skiing is not up to Olympian standards, what I lack in speed and talent, I make up for with enthusiasm! Skiing is exhausting, exhilarating and often hilarious, with evenings spent regaling stories of the day, comparing bruises and aches. The crisp night air is refreshing, but the stillness in the morning after a layer of snow has been added to the village, is breathtakingly beautiful and serene. Silence, other than the church bells pealing on the hour, is appreciated. This morning I woke and truly listened, appreciating the sounds of birds tweeting and waves lapping, telling myself that warts and all, there is nowhere like home.
Stay posted. Find your podium and stand tall, and may your dreams too, come true.