Sustainability in gastronomy is also a question of transport routes. The wine in the Romantik Restaurant Weinstein Castle in the Rhine Valley of St. Gallen travels zero distance. No wonder: the vineyard that gives the restaurant its name lies at the gates of the historic building. But also in other respects, the castle restaurant relies entirely on products from the region - and makes a huge "corn" of it. Five questions for the owner, Friedrich W. Diener.
Mr. Diener, Weinstein says it all. Or are we mistaken?
No, the name Weinstein actually says it all. Our vineyard was first mentioned in a document in 1375. And as you correctly guess, it also gave our estate its name. And so nothing beats a fine drop of wine from our own production - harvested here by hand and pressed in the village. No wonder, the house wines are highly popular.
Short distances are the key when it comes to sustainability. What do you think about meat?
You name it. That's why we consistently process products from the neighbouring village: we buy pork, veal and beef exclusively from Linus Silvestri AG in Lüchingen. By the way, this is not only about regionality, but also about extremely high animal welfare. Free-range pigs live outdoors on 200 square metres per animal, while a pig in a stall has to make do with just 1.2 square metres. The calves, on the other hand, grow up on their birth farm and are raised primarily on cow's milk. And the grazing cattle spend most of their lives on the pasture or on the alp.
From the region, for the region - that's how major distributors advertise. This has long been a reality for you. And what do your suppliers, the farmers, get out of it?
Significantly more than with large-scale distributors, I would guess. We pay for the meat we buy according to the "fair trade" principle. The extra work that the farmer has to do is, of course, compensated financially at a higher rate.
The St. Gallen Rhine Valley is also a stronghold for hunting. Are you a hunter yourself?
Not that, no. But we have a loyal community of reliable hunters here too. Our venison comes 100 percent from Rheintal forests and is absolutely local. Accordingly, we only serve these specialities in autumn, when they are in season.
Chickens also lead a happier life in your region than elsewhere. Why is that?
Our chicken all come from the Rhine Valley. And they eat a wonderful speciality: the Rheintaler Riebel or maize. Riebel is a historical foodstuff - and was once considered by the population to be a "poor man's food" as well as animal feed. The chicken, by the way, are old breeds that grow more slowly and live outdoors.