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In pictures: Hiša Franko's kitchen garden

In pictures: Hiša Franko's kitchen garden

Great Italian Chefs 31 October 2018

Surrounded by the beautiful pastures, mountains and streams of the Soča Valley, Slovenian chef Ana Roš makes the most of local products and ingredients – many of which come from the restaurant's own kitchen garden.

Ranked the forty-eighth best restaurant in the world and headed up by the World’s Best Female Chef 2017 Ana Roš, Hiša Franko is without doubt Slovenia’s most famous restaurant. It’s responsible for turning Slovenia into a dining destination known across Europe and has inspired a new generation of Slovenian chefs to develop their own native cuisine instead of borrowing from Italy and France. And while the building itself is famous for many reasons, including its vast cheese and wine cellar and supposedly being where Ernest Hemingway was nursed back to health during World War I, the surrounding gardens are quickly becoming just as well-known.

Ana says the main reason the food at Hiša Franko is held in such high regard is down to the local ingredients. Kobarid – the part of Slovenia where the restaurant is based – is home to incredible mineral-rich soil, which means fruits and vegetables grown in the region are more flavourful than those found elsewhere. This has an impact on the animals reared too, as they are fed on the lush pastures which then comes through in the final flavour of their milk and meat.

Being such a grand building, it’s no surprise that Hiša Franko has its own kitchen garden – but it’s only since Ana took over the kitchen that it has realised its full potential. ‘I believe the garden has been here from day one,’ says Ana, ‘but Slovenia is the kind of place where everyone grows their own fruits and vegetables – even if they live in the city – so it’s not a new thing. Valter’s parents used to use it for themselves but not for the restaurant, so when we took over we added to it in the hopes we could use what we grow on the menu. Valter’s mother and father now look after the whole grounds.

‘We grow whatever thrives in the very specific microclimate we have here,’ she continues. ‘It’s a mixture of alpine and Mediterranean – we get a lot of sun, but we also get a lot of rain. That makes the valley one of the greenest places on the planet, and sometimes it can feel almost tropical. Not everything is suited to it, however – for example, tarragon is amazing but if we grow rosemary it doesn’t have enough flavour. The rhubarb is always fantastic as long as it doesn’t get too hot, and our beans, peas and potatoes are very good. At the moment we’re experimenting with different types of tomatoes and seeing whether they prefer it inside the greenhouse or outside, but overall we have a great mix of ingredients.’

Take a look at Hiša Franko’s kitchen garden below, and learn a little bit more about how this part of Slovenia is home to some of the richest greenery in the world.

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