Ski-To-Table in Gostner Schwaige, Italy - Modern Farmer

Ski-To-Table in Gostner Schwaige, Italy

Hike or ski to this remote alpine cabin restaurant.

Photography

Mulser trained at several of Europe’s most celebrated restaurants, under the legendary Michelin-star chefs Harald Wohlfahrt, Hans Haas and brothers Karl and Rudolf Obauer. In 2000, Mulser decided to forgo the Michelin-star trek. Instead, he opted to return to his parents’ farm in the Italian Dolomites, where he turned one of their summer mountain cabins into a tiny Alpine restaurant with nine tables.

Accessible only by foot or on ski, Mulser’s restaurant, the Gostner Schwaige, is easy to miss in the middle of a snowy trail on the Alpe di Siusi.

A view of the restaurant's entryway. During the day, hikers and skiiers eat simple fare, and at night more elaborate multicourse meals are served.
A view of the restaurant's entryway. During the day, hikers and skiiers eat simple fare, and at night more elaborate multicourse meals are served.
One of the pasta options.
One of the pasta options.
Inside the restaurant, local mountain cheese and meats are served.
Inside the restaurant, local mountain cheese and meats are served.
Chef Franz Mulser wearing his traditional felt hat and lederhosen. His kitchen, where he works with two sous chefs, is roughly the size of a closet.
Chef Franz Mulser wearing his traditional felt hat and lederhosen. His kitchen, where he works with two sous chefs, is roughly the size of a closet.

The giant 32-year-old Franz Mulser cooks in his Alpine cap and traditional lederhosen in a kitchen the size of a closet. “My philosophy is to bring the aromas and tastes from the surrounding region and put it on a plate for my guests,” he explains, as he maneuvers his way around his two sous chefs in the kitchen. For one of his signature dishes, hay soup, he collects 25 different herbs, such as lady’s mantle, yarrow and wild mountain pepper, from the surrounding fields, and infuses the mix with beef broth and cream, sourced from his own cattle, who eat those same herbs. The soup is served in a loaf of bread he bakes himself in a nest of hay from his farm, and is sprinkled with a colorful fireworks display of edible mountain wildflowers. It was a revelation even to Mulser: a dish as hearty and delicious as something a local grandmother would cook, but with the sophisticated conceptual philosophy of a contemporary restaurant like Noma.

‘For me this is luxury. Luxury is in the experience and the surprise.’

Mulser serves lunch daily, but at night he takes his cooking up several notches for a seated, multicoursecandlelit meal served to a maximum of 20 guests. On a typical night he might serve a suckling pig with green beans and fig honey, as well as a pesto of pine needles and pear sorbet, followed by handmade tortellini stuffed with braised peppers and fried stone moss floatingin an herb broth spiked with smoked duck ham. He would end this meal with a boozy Kaiserschmarrn (an iconic Austrian dish – essentially caramelized scrambled pancakes) served with homemade saffron and Enzian schnapps ice cream. Content and most likely tipsy from excellent local wines, diners ski back to their ski resort or the nearby village of Compaccio by the light of the stars and lit torches.

“For me this is luxury,” says Mulser as he watches his guests leave. “Luxury is in the experience and the surprise.”

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