Chapter One: Austria

The first few days of this trip were a whirlwind. Notwithstanding the last minute delay in Jasper’s starting date (we found out three days before leaving that he will need to stay on until June 30), the first 72 hours were a blur of teary goodbyes, planes, cars and multiple countries with very little sleep.

At last, we arrived in HOCH FUGEN, AUSTRIA (via Belgium & Germany), for a week of skiing, wellness and gourmet cooking.

Shin pains aside, the skiing was magnificent. Hoch Fugen is in the Tirol region of Austria, about 30km from Innsbruck, as the crow flies.  Jasper’s family goes to the same hotel every year for ‘ski vacation,’ and, after my first trip, it was easy to see why. The views are unbelievable, the skiing is fantastic and the hotel has a full wellness spa, complete with steam room, saunas, hot tub, etc. It even has a room with water beds and earphones playing classical music, in case you were not yet relaxed. It also comes with a six-course nightly dinner menu, which usually leaves us rolling back to our rooms just in time to fall asleep and do it all again the next day.

This particular hotel also hosts the restaurant Alexander, home of celebrity chef, Alexander Fankhauser (rated 18/20 in the Gault Millau… which is very high if you are unfamilar). We went on the Friday evening and had no less than thirteen courses in total, including such creations as fois gras ice cream and spun sugar apple trees (equal parts beautiful and terrifying). I had some time to sit down with the chef and ask him about his inspirations and the essence of Austrian cooking (which I will add as a separate post shortly).

Suffice it to say, the bar was set quite high for a trip that was soon to go from riches to rags as I hostel, camp and airbnb my way around the world, backpack in tow. Winking face

Below are some scenic highlights of Austria.

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IMG-20160311-WA0048IMG-20160311-WA0047And culinary highlights:

Top dinner courses featured, including fois gras ice cream, quail egg ravioli with shaved truffles and emulsification, scallops and caviar, edible apple encasement dusted with meringue, and a tree made out of apple three ways.

Below is a more causal, but highly authentic and local, lunch dish called a Groestl. Kind of like an Austrian bibimbop; best enjoyed outside in the sun with an alpenbitter.

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Prost!

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Heavy black heart

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