I took 3 days off and drove to the south-east corner of Austria, close to the Slovenian border.
My destination: Neumeister - wine makers running the outstanding restaurant Saziani Stubn and the "Schlafgut" with 7 spacious apartments that breathe the spirit of the landscape.
My objective: relax by hiking, reading, eating and drinking fine things.
Talents are rare
About four years ago, Albert Neumeister, the patron, hired Harald Irka (then 18) direct from school. Harald Irka is now a celebrated chef, who creates superb dishes in perfectly composed menus with seven servings and a fantastic series of amuse gueules (I had both the green and the earthy menu - adapted to the season).
IMO, he is the best chef in Austria and one of the most talented chefs world-wide. He created his own style, but if I want to draw a line, I'd say it's inspired by the new Scandinavian way (Noma, Faviken Magasinet, ..) of looking into the landscape and delve into its ingredients …. And this corner of Austria has wonderful ingredients.
Saziani Stubn also offers a great wine list with outstanding national and international entries, but in interaction with the menus I prefer the Neumeister Grand Cru wines, the Pinot Gris "Saziani", the Sauvignon Blanc or Morillon (Chardonnay) "Moarfeitl" that are available back to 2001.
Gault Millau rated the Saziani Stubn (only) 17/20 (3 Toques) - this is great for a chef of the age of 22+. But if he were in one of the regions celebrated as "culinary centers", they were top rated by Michelin, GM, …
The only way to add value in an exotic provenance
It was just by chance that I wrote about The Prvonance Paradox, when Harald Irka started. He's, BTW, from Linz, like most of us UnRiskers.
The Neumeister-working-style seems not so different from ours - innovation and cooperation, with a heart for young talents. And like us they are not doing everything to get picked - they choose themselves. They do the difficult work for those who care.
A place really worthy of a visit …