Trends come and trends go. Call it unfair if you like, but Michael Bechter is unfazed by the hype. Sure, he’s been cooking excellent vegetarian/vegan for many years. But he’ll keep doing that, even after the wave of popularity has crested. His (regular) guests are passionate about his purposefully small menu, the lengths he goes to in featuring regional products, and his creative variety of grains and vegetables. This loyalty is all the thanks he needs. Working alongside the two sisters, Rosemarie and Gabriele, the “Hirschen” has become like a second home for Michael and for his adoring regulars.
Vegetables: From the garden to the kitchen!
Michael Bechter loves collaborative and creative cooking, a passion he shares with his team at the Landhotel Hirschen in Hittisau. Here he has discovered his own style, which is underpinned by a focus on vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Team spirit is what attracted Michael to cooking in the first place: During his time as an apprentice in Sulzberg, the atmosphere in the kitchen was so electric that he left the workshop for good. Later, he learned the fine art of cooking in an award-winning Swiss restaurant before progressing to Hittisau, where his own inspirations bubbled to the surface. “I need freedom in the kitchen. Cooking by the book is just not my style,” says Michael with a grin. Unconventional cooking is one of the many reasons why he has always been attracted to vegetarian and vegan cooking. “Though perhaps more time consuming, because it requires more creativity, the variety is actually incredible.” Not to say that carnivores aren’t welcome at the Hirschen: Michael and his team prepare delicious meat-based dishes such as veal burgers, veal lasagna, Bregenzerwald roast chicken and even a delicious barbecue plate as well. Rosemarie’s husband, who works at the butcher’s shop in Andelsbuch, is in charge of selecting the meat. Even the most seasoned meat lovers won’t want to miss the vegan potato roulade in all its variations (with quinoa, beetroot, pumpkin, red cabbage or herbs). While you’re there, don’t miss his delicious pasta dishes and the large selection of homemade cakes. As Michael says: “If you have the right team around you, nothing is impossible!”
Michael Bechters mountain-cheese terrine with dandelion pesto and fresh bread
Mountain cheese terrine:
350 g mountain cheese, 200 g cream
½ cup of sour cream
Rosemary, pepper, salt
3 gelatine leaves
200 g whipped cream
Melt all the ingredients slowly and let them cool. Then work in 200 g of whipped cream and fresh chives or rocket. Line a terrine mould with foil and finely sliced mountain cheese. Pour in the mixture and put it in the fridge for two hours. Then turn the terrine over and cut it into 1 centimetre thick slices.
Finely chop 3 bunches of dandelion leaves, add 30 g of grated almonds and 50 g of finely grated mountain cheese. Then mix well with 360 ml of olive oil, 3 pinches of salt and lemon juice. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
500 g white flour (type 700 if available)
10 g carrot salt
You can prepare this special salt yourself: dry the grated carrot skins and mix them with a fine salt. Crush them finely in a mortar. Normal salt also works!
¼ l lukewarm water, 1 cube (42 g) yeast
Knead all the ingredients together for 5 minutes to form a smooth dough. Allow to rise for 30 to 40 minutes, then form 30 to 40 centimetre long baguettes. Let rise on the baking tray for another 30 to 40 minutes then bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Author: Markus Curin
Issue: Bregenzerwald Travel Magazine – Summer 2020