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Cooking like a superhero in Bregenzerwald

Cooking like a superhero in Bregenzerwald

Superheros: They wear costumes, have special abilities, show courage and moral principle, regularly save the world and yet they remain modest. Meet the culinary heroes of Bregenzerwald.

Superficially speaking, most of us only meet superheros these days if we go to the cinema to watch the latest billion-dollar feature from the entertainment industry. They make the most of the popularity of Hollywood blockbusters, computer games and other franchise products from Batman & friends. But this is nothing more than pure fantasy. It’s entertainment, sure but it’s even more important that they hold up a mirror to the society in which we live.In bygone times it was the mythological figures, heroes like Gilgamesh and Achilles or (half) gods like Hercules and Thor who reflected the innermost desires of humanity. Today, it’s comic book characters who embody such fantasy roles. Sometimes these stories are replaced instead by propaganda. For instance, Superman could fly and break through walls and Captain America battled the Nazis and later communists. Meanwhile, the X-Men not only battled evil doers, they also confronted stereotypes and aggression towards minorities.

Contemporary hero figures have to show their feelings, owning up to their vulnerabilities and shortcomings, taking on the role of the so-called anti-heroes. Nevertheless, they are something special. They stand out because of their exceptional qualities and the deeds they perform are the stuff of legends. The best part is: They actually exist amongst us! Finding superheroes is easy enough, just peek behind the scenes of the many restaurants and inns. Even if they’d perhaps prefer to conceal their true identities, to work in anonymity as friendly souls in service of good food, we’ve uncovered their identities, these superheroes of Bregenzerwald!

Gasthof Taube, Bizau

Every hero needs a sidekick, who provides support and motivation, even if they remain in the shadows. It’s even more practical, when hero and sidekick switch roles, each providing one another with the support needed. At the “Taube” in Bizau, this heroism is embodied by the harmonious behaviour of Margit and Monika Dietrich-Moosbrugger. Chef Margit knows what the guests like: She’s constructed a menu according to guest preferences rather than the latest trends. For her, the quality of ingredients is decisive and so is the taste, so she checks in with her regular guests to collect some opinions. Their feedback is important, even if she already knows what they’re likely to think after the last bite of a delicious Sunday roast, a crispy schnitzel, or a tempting portion of sheep’s cheese. Monika heads up service and communications: It’s almost eerie the way she picks up on guest preferences and knows exactly what each and every family of regular guests likes.

Hotel Schiff, Hittisau

True heroes don’t have an expiration date: Even when confronting big challenges, they develop a certain routine, which they practice even under enormous pressure. Gina Feuerstein and Ignaz Pieler are living proof. Having worked together for more than 35 years at the Schiff, they’ve developed extra special powers. For instance, the ability to read minds comes as naturally as being in two places at once. Remembering guest preferences – from favourite wines to intolerances – are stored over the course of many years. Even Sherlock Holmes would be impressed! As a living extension of the gourmet cuisine at the Wälderstube, they are responsible for making gourmet magic happen. At some point every guest comes to realize that their holiday in Bregenzerwald was just an excuse to visit Ignaz and Gina at the Schiff.

Berghaus Kanisfluh, Schnepfegg

Intuition is perhaps a superhero’s best asset. They seem to know just what to do without being asked. They are at your side with the right skills to help at the right moment. What’s more, they are always putting the needs of the many ahead of their own. This self-sacrifice usually works out for the best in the majority of stories, but not always. Early in the morning, when senior landlady Irma Moosmann greets guests at the Berghaus Kanisfluh with a smile before breakfast, the day already is a success. Though modest, she is in fact the establishment’s heart and soul: though she’s just as likely to be remembered for her good cheer. Like her friendly demeanor, her food is also the stuff of legends. Those who’ve sampled her “Öpflküachle” (apple fritters) can attest.

Hotel Gasthof Hirschen, Schwarzenberg

New skills, misplaced courage, appearing confident and yet not having a clue: The X-Men and the gods of yore could both write volumes about what it’s like when the next generation is knocking at your door. This changing of the guard can be observed at even the most storied establishments in the country. For the Fetz family, however, it’s the same old story for generations. After all, this family has been taking care of business at this noble inn since the 18th century. Franz Fetz is the latest family member to make his mark, and he’s cultivated a noble environment for all gourmet’s and fans of cultivated lifestyle. The award-winning kitchen staff and the picturesque parlours have been drawing in guests from near and far to Schwarzenberg. Admittedly, son Peter has big shoes to fill as he takes over. A passionate art collector, music lover, a born networker and host, his father, Franz Fetz, has made this restaurant his life’s work. This makes what’s next for this traditional establishment all the more exciting as new ideas flow in.

Hotel Sonne, Bezau

Heroes are always under enormous pressure! “With great power, comes great responsibility”: This wisdom stems from comic-book legend Stan Lee, who penned the Spider Man series. Ramiza Coralic, head chef at the Sonne family hotel in Bezau, has confidence in her own abilities. As chef, she ensures that each and every dish is a delight, like her famed Käsknöpfle cheese spaetzle. She also regularly provides cooking classed for kids. But her true magic lies in the preparation of cakes, pies and sweet dishes. Few celebrations in the area, such as baptisms, weddings or birthdays don’t feature one of her clever confections. The host family Meusburger appreciates her special talents, as does her husband Asim, who supports her daily in the kitchen.

Dr’Berghof, Damüls

Naturally, from time to time, true heroes seek the company of equals. But this in no way lessens their services to humanity, and hanging out with the mighty and powerful also has its drawbacks. Alpine pasture farmers fit in this category, a group of people who work hard year after year in relative seclusion for several month. That is until they break out with something special. Lukas and Bruno Bischof, for instance, have cultivated a wonderful establishment in Damüls. During the summer months, however, Lukas also operates a mountain hut, located just 20 minutes on foot from the village centre. The highlight? Every Friday at the Stadl, gourmets (reservations needed) are treated to an exceptional Alpine breakfast, 360° panoramic views, the tinkling of cowbells and fresh mountain air. The breakfast features homemade bread, cheese and dairy products from neighbouring Alpine pasture farms in addition to cold cuts and special sausages from the village butcher. The Riebel corn semolina mash is the pinnacle of proceedings. This most traditional of Vorarlberg dishes has nourished generations and transitioned from a dish favoured by the economically disadvantaged to being a staple of menus beloved by many chefs.

Tonele“ Gasthaus Gams, Egg

Confidants, solo-acts, last-minute saviours: The many roles that champions play throughout their lifetimes are as diverse as the stories attributed to their great deeds. How wonderful it is indeed when such heroes share their treasure trove of wisdom with others to benefit humanity without needing to be at the centre of things. When Albert Schneider entertains guests at the Gasthaus Gams inn, he makes use of this wealth of experience. Why, for example, is the establishment named “Tonele?” This is a classic question he always gets asked by first-time guests in addition to the secret of his delicious Käsknöpfle cheese spaetzle (his partner Theresia is happy to share tips about the latter). Regular guests look forward to getting an update about the goings on in town (without mentioning names of course) and Albert has an open ear for all. After all, there’s little that a beer and some well-meant advice from Albert can’t solve.
T +43 (0)5512 2327

Haldenstüble, Schwarzenberg

A little bit of mystery goes a long way in cementing a masked champion in the hearts and minds of the general public. Punctuality, being at the right place at the right time, and a snappy one liner are more effective than even the most well-intended marketing campaign for a star. As an example, look no further than Christoph Metzler. His abilities as cook could always be judged by the expensive cars parking in front of his restaurant. Today, little has changed, except maybe that his legendary Käsknöpfle cheese spaetzle, schnitzel, or grilled meats are only available by pre-order and for special occasions.
T +43 (0)664 1236264

Gasthof Ochsen, Sulzberg

Either they’ve been created by the gods, come from another galaxy, were supercharged by radioactive beams, bitten by an animal or have a genetic defect: Heroes with superpowers clearly dominate the scene. And yet Batman, the Black Panther and the Punisher demonstrate that talent and skill have their place. Having a feeling for cooking goes a long way too, as evidenced by the Schmuck brothers of the Ochsen inn in Sulzberg. Not often the focus of media attention, the two have been bulwarks of traditional food for many years. The dynamic duo has succeeded by concentrating on their strengths: Alois serves local venison, cheese from the Bregenzerwald, in addition to other seasonal meat specialities or even entire fish. Meanwhile, Günter motivates guests and takes care of the finances and staffing. The fantastic views into the valley whilst eating don’t hurt either.

Alpe Leugher, Bezau

Modern high-rise building, an abandoned bat cave or even a fortress of snow and ice – every hero needs a refuge to get away from it all. Why not an Alpine pasture dairy? Alpine cheesemaker Alfons Moser retreats to his scenic Alpine middle pasture, the Leugher, for more than 100 days per year to refine his white gold. For years, he has been joined by Martin Flatz and Nicole Bereuter, who work together as shepherds but who also serve guests homemade specialities. After all, who can resist a snack featuring Alpine butter, cheese and fresh bread? At this heavenly Alpine pasture located at 1,300 m above Bezau, the world’s troubles seem far away.

Author: Markus Curin