For a restaurateur, life at 1,300m can pose a few challenges, particularly on the Kitzbühler Horn in the Austrian Alps, as Annemarie Foidl will confirm. She and her daughter run Angerer Alm, a hotel and restaurant open more or less year-round. At this time of year, with the snow thick on the ground, supplies come via cable car, then a goods hoist.
Hungry skiers will eat and drink superbly here, as do hikers and bikers in summer: I visited in September, just as herds of cattle were plodding and jangling down the mountain for winter.
After a tour of Annemarie’s treasure trove of a cellar – she’s president of the Austrian Sommelier Association and has 6,000 bottles from 400 wineries – I had lunch on the terrace, slaloming my way through much of the wine list and some absolutely top-notch food.
“Alm” means hill farm, and much of the menu is grown or reared locally: a billowing raviolo, for instance, filled with zander from a nearby lake and strewn with tomatoes from the valley. There’s sublimely seasoned venison carpaccio too, and a jade-green nettle soup with a featherlight (by Tirolean standards, at least) dumpling. Best of all is perfectly cooked veal with ceps, chanterelles and cauliflower fungus foraged from the surrounding woods.
Wines included a clean, astringent 2014 Neuberger (a cross between Sylvaner and Roter Veltliner) from Domäne Wachau; a fresh, pleasantly tannic Karasi Areni Noir 2013 from Armenia (chiming happily with the setting of Angerer Alm, its grapes grow at 1,400m on Mount Ararat); and two dessert wines – a strikingly pure 2012 Eiswein from Johanneshof Reinisch and a tokaji-like 1991 Ruster Ausbruch from Burgenland. Lunch was an education and a joy.
On the other side of Kitzbühel rises the 1,712m Hahnenkamm; adjacent to the starting gate of the legendary and treacherous Streif downhill course is Restaurant Hochkitzbühel, where young and cheerful staff dispense wienerschnitzels, noodles, dumplings, goulash soups and kaiserschmarren (a hearty shredded sweet pancake with fruit compôte) to a ravenous clientele.
I had a bracingly piquant steak tartare made from excellent beef, with shards of roasted schwarzbrot (black bread) for company, and a few glasses of wine. The Tomschy family, who own Hochkitzbühel, also have an interest in a Mallorcan winery, Can Feliu, so I tried one or two of their wines too.
I saw no reason to hurry away after lunch: it was a sunny afternoon, and the views from the generous terrace are spectacular. An hour or so after I started on the apricot schnapps, however, I realised that maybe I should think about commandeering a cable car back to town. It was, I fear, all downhill from there.