The most beautiful culinary slopes in Salzburg
The best addresses from Filzmoos to Zell am See.
"The horses look forward to every ride," says Cilli Rettenwender. This is not surprising; after all, the animal tours lead to two of the most beautiful alpine pastures in the Alps. The "Unterhofalm" and the "Oberhofalm" near Filzmoos offer everything that a picture-book version of this type of landscape should: a small lake, guarded by a host of sturdy conifers, in the background the rock faces of the Bischofsmütze with their jagged peaks and in front of them the over 300-year-old buildings of the farmhouses, which are now also used for catering. Nature doesn't skimp on kitsch here.
Cilli Rettenwender calls it "a paradise" and the boss of the "Kirchgasshof" is not wrong. Your Noriker fit seamlessly into this setting. The powerful animals pull the carriages, which can hold up to eleven people, from Filzmoos through the car-free winter landscape up to the mountain pasture. To this end, the horses spent the fall weeks - after returning from their summer retreat on the alpine pastures and being fitted with fresh horseshoes in mid-November - recharging their batteries on daily rides. Now, in winter, they take an hour to drive up to the mountain pasture, where passengers are released for exploratory walks into the winter idyll. If the coachman didn't tell us to leave again after a while, quite a few people would probably stay here longer. However, the coaches jolt and wobble back to the "Kirchgasshof", which is located between the Geierberg and Mooslehen lifts.
The ski trail runs directly opposite, and at the other end of the village the Papageno gondola lift takes skiers up to the top (more ambitious skiers can also tackle the ski tour up to the "Schörgi Alm"). At the top of the Rossbrand, the high-altitude cross-country ski trail offers a panoramic and varied cross-country skiing circuit and for skiers there is a slope perfectly designed for carving turns.
Half an hour's drive away, Werfenweng and St. Johann im Pongau also offer the perfect topography for enjoyable skiing. In Werfenweng it is the Bischlinghöhe and the Rosnerköpfl, both of which can be reached directly from the village centre by lift. 29 kilometres of slopes open up every corner of the two mountains, from the "Strussingalm" to the Schnapfenriedl. If you want to avoid the descent, there is a launch site for paragliders right next to the top station of the Ikarus gondola. The airspace above the Bischlinghöhe is one of the most popular flying areas in Salzburg, and beginners can try it out on tandem flights.
In St. Johann, in the slightly higher district of Alpendorf, there are several houses that can be used as "base camps" for earthbound discovery tours; whether around the fireplace in the panorama lounge of the "Oberforsthofalm" with a view of the Salzach Valley (and a fine wine list) - or in the "Zinnkrügl", where chef Valentin Hochleitner serves exquisite menus in a modern, stylish Alpine ambience, or in the "Hotel Oberforsthof", where you can enjoy spirited slow-food cuisine.
Outside, the snow park is a special area for jump-loving freestylers. The "Strassalm" (at the Strassalmbahn) and the "Buchau-Hütte" offer sun terraces with breathtaking views. An impressive introduction to the "Snow Space Salzburg" with its 210 kilometres of slopes spread over five valleys and twelve peaks.
Not directly connected, but linked via the Skiwelt Amadé, is the Grossarl Valley, where the wide pistes are blessed with high snow reliability - and a new highlight: with the Kieserl gondola lift, an additional (incidentally energy self-sufficient) connection to Dorfgastein was created at a cost of 70 million euros. It is historical ground; TV legend Sepp Forcher ran a ski lodge on the "Roslehenalm" back in the mid-1950s. Today, a new mountain station has been built at almost 2000 metres above sea level as part of the expansion.
It is also home to "Wolke 7" - a sky lounge serving the finest dishes from rump steak with port wine jus to pulpo with sugar snaps and red prawn curry. There is also a large selection of wines and cocktails.
Chef Andreas Gratz focuses more on regional specialities at the "Schatzarei" in the "Hotel Tauernhof". Under the motto "brutally regional", creations are served in a relaxed atmosphere and with produce originating from the hotel's own farm (lamb) or from farms in the immediate vicinity (game, dairy, honey).
Brunch of a different kind
Specialities from the region are also the culinary focus of the "Ski 'n' Brunch" on the Schmittenhöhe in Zell am See. "Blaickner's Sonnalm" and the "Schmiedhof Alm" at the Sonnenalmbahn are the destination ports of this special offer, which is available to pleasure skiers every Thursday. In January and February a limited number of participants go up the mountain accompanied by the management of the lift company.
In addition to delicacies, local experts such as Thomas Maierhofer, the new chairman of the lift company, will provide insights into the ski area. You can find out about the almost 140 kilometres of pistes that await skiers on Zell's local mountain and opposite on the Kitzsteinhorn. Or report on superlatives such as the crisp 70 percent steep "Trass" descent on the Schmittenhöhe or the "Black Mamba" (63 percent) on the Kitzsteinhorn. The twelve kilometre long XL cable car connection Kaprun-Maiskogel-Kitzsteinhorn with the "3K" gondola, which leads from 768 to 3029 metres into the high mountain region of the glacier, is also worth a story.
But perhaps they can also tell you about the longest floodlit toboggan run in the world in the nearby Wildkogel Arena, where you can hurtle over 14 kilometres and 1300 vertical metres from the Wildkogel towards Bramberg. As an alternative to brunch, there are also guided snowshoe tours on the summit plateau of the Schmittenhöhe on Thursdays. The trail leads to the Sonnkogel via the high-altitude promenade, where you can see breathtaking panoramic views of the mountains around Zell am See (such as the Steinerne Meer) as well as works of art, such as the "Sacrificial Table" on the Schrambachkopf.
In Leogang itself, winter sports activities are concentrated on the Asitz, where a new eight-seater chairlift will replace the 29-year-old four-seater Limberg chairlift from this winter. While on the mountain everything revolves around loud and quiet, fast and slow piste, freeride and winter hiking adventures; down in the valley things are deliberately sensual.
In "Puradies" by Michael Madreiter, the focus is on feeding the soul. The former corporate consultant has transformed a 280-year-old farm into a design oasis. The nature resort lies like an island between the Steinberg and Asitzbahn cable cars, surrounded by ... nothing and nobody.
TIPS & ADDRESSES
Zell am See
The magnificent view of the lake, from inside the rustic ambience, can be enjoyed with accompanying culinary art of fine quality, and a good selection from the well-stocked wine cellar.
Erlhofweg 11, 5700 Zell am See
T: +43 6542 56637, erlhof.at
Mayer's at Prielau Castle
Top chef Andreas Mayer lives out his passion here, operating at the highest level. Own aroma kitchen with menus made from 120 perfume essences.
Hofmannsthalstraße 10, 5700 Zell am See
T: +43 6542 72911, mayers-restaurant.at
Whether a five-course gourmet dinner or à la carte; an all-round enjoyment experience of excellent quality and in the best location.
Auerspergstraße 11, 5700 Zell am See
T: +43 6542 765, salzburgerhof.at
Regionality meets vision, eel meets golden beet; Florian Zillner cooks with a view beyond the horizon. Fine casual dining with great attention to detail.
Schmittenstraße 79, 5700 Zell am See
T: +43 6542 72123, flosrestaurant.at
An old power station forms the backdrop for modern and inspired cuisine made from regional produce. The wine list is a world map of pleasure.
Schmittenstraße 12a, 5700 Zell am See
T: +43 6643888016, kraftwerk-restaurant.at
Ess:enz in Puradies
Natural cuisine at its best - and in three lines: regional, Mediterranean, vegetarian. Albert Dschulnigg works his magic with truffles, Saalfelden trout and juicy steaks.
Rain 9, 5771 Leogang
T: +43 6583 8275, puradies.com
St.Johann im Pongau
Pongau delicacies, typical "Pfandl" dishes and Austrian classics in a rustic, elegant setting and with fine views.
Alpendorf 12, 5600 St. Johann im Pongau
T: +43 6412 6396, oberforsthofalm.at
At "Fredl's", traditional home cooking based on family recipes meets imaginative dishes from all over the world.
Bundesstraße 9, 5600 St. Johann im Pongau
T: +43 6412 6023, reinbachstube.at
Valentin Hochleitner spoils the palate and eyes with exquisite creations, the walk-in wine cabinet provides the appropriate accompaniment.
Alpendorf 7, 5600 St. Johann im Pongau
T: +43 6412 6179, zinnkruegl.at
At the Hettegger family's Mountain Resort, the regional and seasonal produce on offer shapes the menu. Not bad ideas for five-course fine dining experiences.
Unterbergstraße 65, 5611 Großarl
T: +43 6414 3000, edelweiss-grossarl.com
"Brutally regional": the commitment to produce from the neighbourhood, which Andreas Gratz composes into a kitchen line that people talk about - in other words, "treasures" - sounds almost martial.
Unterbergstraße 55, 5611 Großarl
T: +43 6414 2640, tauernhof.com
Meat from our own butcher's shop, ingredients from our own garden, bread from our own oven - all you have to do is eat and enjoy yourself.
Unterbergstraße 50, 5611 Grossarl
T: +43 6414 81200, nesslerhof.at
A mix of Mediterranean and Alpine cuisine is served in the form of fine fish and pasta dishes, colourful energy bowls and tender meat specialities.
Filzmooser Straße 20, 5532 Filzmoos
T: +43 6453 8584, happyfilzmoos.at
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