Just across the border, there is Ana Roš‘s personal Caporetto. A self-taught Slovenian chef, the best in the world according to The World’s Best Female Chef 2017, Ana dreamed of a diplomatic career before meeting Valter Kramer, the man who showed her the way to catering. Today they are one of the most close-knit and balanced couples in the oenogastronomy sector, and they have carried out together his family’s activity, bringing it to very high levels. Hiša Franko is the restaurant and hotel that after 45 years still has the name of Franko, Valter’s father. Even the Roast beef, the legendary dish of Hiša Franko since 1973, is dedicated to him. It is still in the menu at Hiša Polonka, their new trattoria in the centre of Kobarid.
Looking for inspiration in nature, Ana creates dishes by procuring plants, mushrooms and flowers from the Slovenian woods; Valter is the director and sommelier, as well as being a cheese taster. He boasts a cellar of unconventional wines, especially Slovenians from the Brda area – the equivalent of the Friuli Collio – that many collectors would envy. Here, he organizes private tastings and aperitifs with friends; from a glass wall, on the other hand, you can see the vault where he refines various dairy products, his other great passion: he even goes to Emilia Romagna to ripen his own Fossa cheese. Since Ana stepped in, Hiša Franko became female. From the ever-changing dishes that reflect her personality and femininity, to the colourful and floral plating, to the essentiality of the table: a simple white tablecloth that reaches the ground and a single fresh flower placed in the centre.
Hiša Franko is above all territory and seasonality. Despite a young and international staff, and if you don’t look out the window you would definitely be deceived about the geolocation, the menu invests everything on local ingredients, on those authentic flavours that resemble the nearby North East Italy and are influenced by Austria, Croatia and Hungary. Ana follows and chases the rhythm of nature. She has established a close dialogue with fishermen, breeders and shepherds of the area: they are the zero mile suppliers that deliver milk to make homemade butter, grazing meat and river trout. She thinks of the environment-friendly part, just as our grandmothers did, by practicing the foraging, collecting wild foods used from the amuse-bouche to the dessert. Thus, 100% vegetarian dishes such as Plantago taco, wild plants, elder blossom and hazelnut miso or Peanut-eggplant-chocolate emulsion, purslane salad, fresh mountain cottage cheese from the Fine Summer tasting menu, are so satisfying and harmonics that don’t need the animal component.
Among the 50 best restaurants in the world, if Slovenia had the Michelin Guide the indecision would be on how many stars Hiša Franko should receive. At the moment, Ana Roš shines with her own light.