Set near the Italian border in Slovenia’s remote Soča valley, in the foothills of mountains and beside a turquoise river full of trout, Ana Roš tells the story of her life. Through essays, recollections, recipes, and photos, she shares the idyllic landscape that inspires her, the abundant seasonal ingredients from local foragers, the tales of fishing and exploring, and the evolution of her inventive and sophisticated food at Hiša Franko – where she has elevated Slovenian food and become influential in the global culinary landscape.
Ana Roš Sun and Rain is different from the books we are used to reviewing. And this is not a bad thing, in fact, we really liked the way this book was put together. It works like a diary or a personal journal where Roš tells the story of her life.
Without any formal training, Roš has turned a Slovenian restaurant into one of the hottest dining spots in Europe. For someone whose education focused on a career in diplomacy, Roš displays a deep interest in the qualities of ingredients and the inspiration that can be found in how and when they are sourced. She writes extensively about the ideas that come to her by observing plants and animals in their natural environment. The kind of insights that top chefs often experience but may not be able to articulate as clearly as Roš does.
The results are unlike dishes we have seen elsewhere: young asparagus and wild herbs served with salami-infused cream, pork crackling, and vinegar; mushroom dumplings served with cheese rind broth; grilled trout bellies with pear glaze, pumpkin-seed oil emulsion, and Rosa di Gorizia radicchio; wild boar with plums and brown beans.
If there is a word that cannot be used to describe Ana Roš or Hiša Franko is usual. And this rule is also applied to this book, in fact, Ana Roš Sun and Rain it’s anything but usual. Besides looking like a fairy tale story, the organization of this book is very different from what we are used to seeing. The recipes are all together at the end, far from the photographs that are spread throughout the narrative.
Speaking in photographs, they are simply phenomenal! They are one of the reasons that make this book so special and unique. See the photos as we read the book is like to be transported to Soča valley or to Hiša Franko. There are not many books that can do this, the combination of narrative and visual content has to be perfect for this to happen. Throughout the book, you’ll find different photos, including landscapes, portraits, and of course photos of the dishes.
Now speaking about the recipes, they are complex and intricately designed and balanced. As in almost all restaurant cookbooks, the recipes will be difficult to replicate at home and some times even impossible. Inside this book you will find amazing dishes like a beef tongue with oyster mayonnaise and pickled purslane; a popcorn dish features beer gel, cheese ice cream, and wild hops.
Clearly, items like cuttlefish lard—made by brining cuttlefish, then cooking them sous-vide, then roasting them, and finally pressing them together and freezing them—are not going to make the regular rotation on home tables. The dreamy effect that pervades this entire book—and Ros’s cooking—is transporting, even if the recipes themselves are mostly aspirational.
Ana Roš Sun and Rain is another excellent restaurant cookbook. It’s great for those who enjoy a good read in combination with brilliant photographs. Phaidon continues to bring us amazing cookbooks, but most importantly it continues to tell us the story of the best chefs in the world. This hefty book mixes autobiography, recipe, and beautiful images from the Slovenian star Ana Roš. A book that promises to be the delight for fans of Chef’s Table, culinary trophy hunters, and/or lovers of travel photography.
Ana Roš Sun and Rain is one of the best cookbooks we had the opportunity to read. This is not a book from which you will make many recipes, but it is a book that will make you travel to Hiša Franko to discover the magical world of Ana Roš.