In Sabine Friesinger's bakehouse time seems to pass more slowly than elsewhere. She bakes her rustic bread in a traditional wood-fired oven, and when her guests arrive, she has lots of time for them. Up to ten people per day can visit her snack house from Thursday to Saturday. Wednesday is baking day, and on Sunday she rests.
Standing barefoot in her garden, Sabine wipes her hands on the short lederhosen she is wearing, and welcomes her guests. Her hands are used to hard work. The rake still in her hand, our friendly host points out and names an array of bulbs, flowers, and greens in her vegetable garden. Old varieties grow alongside marigolds and lemon balm. Right behind the garden lies the heart of her little paradise: the wood-fired oven.
"It's not like an electric oven that you can turn up to 240 degrees and rely on to work," she explains. Her grandmother taught her the traditional art of baking bread in a wood-fired oven. Every Wednesday she fires up the oven and starts kneading the dough. Focussed and with dexterous movements. Once the oven reaches the right temperature, the embers come out and the dough goes in. Her grandmother is usually up by then and helps load the loaves. Not many words are necessary between the two as they perform their task. Only two words are said as the freshly baked bread is lined up to cool: Thank you.
Flour, water, salt
Sabine Friesinger has always been interested in bread and everything related to 'the old days', particularly how people lived and worked. "People used to work hard, but there were set times when work was put aside. This is no longer the case," she says. Sitting on a bench in front of the house in the evening, looking back on the day and feeling content with the little things – this is what our independent host misses in today's busy lives. It is the reason she feels grounded in her old-fashioned bakehouse. All that matters here are the recipe that was passed down to her, the traditional craft, and the old oven. Her motto is to live hospitality and also to really take time to rest.
Flour, water, and salt, not much more is needed to make good bread. And her special bread spices like fennel seeds, caraway, anise, and coriander seeds. A simple, yet incredibly delicious recipe. A fresh slice of her bread with butter and chopped chives is Sabine's idea of a divine meal.
When guests come, she cooks full-blown dishes – roast pork with crispy crackeling and sweet choux pastry fritters are among her specialties. The large pots and pans go straight to the table and guests can dig into her treats. Everyone enjoys their delicious meal and the lively conversation at the table. More often than not, mobiles stay in their respective bags and pockets.
Staying true to yourself
"I don't like the common idea of success,", Sabine Friesinger explains, and instead quickly offers a concept she can identify with: contentment. Happiness. It took the hard-working host many years to turn her passion into a career. Without any vocational training as a baker, Sabine, who was originally trained as a florist, had difficulties realizing her dream. It took ten years before the wood-fired oven was up and running, her snack station was open, and the first guests sat down at her table. "Then everything almost took off too quickly for me – I hadn't expected it to work so well", she recalls. Soon she understood that people liked what she liked: the simple, down-to-earth things.
"Of course I want to make a living, but I also want to stay true to myself. I want to do something I believe in", she says. After years working in the restaurant business, self-employment gave her the freedom she had been looking for. Today, when guests with reservations don't show up, she enjoys the unexpected day off. Sabine Freisinger loves spending time in the mountains and with her family.
It feels like home
I know the people, I know the place, I grew up here – I feel good here." Her home is very important to Sabine Friesinger. Her love for Kitzbühel and the region is also reflected in the products she chooses. Whatever does not grow in her own vegetable patch, she buys from the village farmers. The flour for her bread is organic. When she starts rattling off the names of the local producers she buys from, guests can immediately tell that the quality of her dishes is extraordinary. Especially local guests appreciate her regional choices.
In the end, time does fly. After a few hours in Sabine Friesinger's idyllic garden paradise, it is time to go home. Many leave as new friends and most are sure to return soon.
Aug. 24, 2017