- Ariana Narins
Trentino-Alto Adige Specials
Wednesday, March 24th - Tuesday, March 30th
Your Italian guide will tell you that you’re in Italy when in Trentino-Alto Adige, but your tastebuds will say - Austria. Of course, beyond any political boundaries, the earth speaks through the food. And in this northern region of Italy, we find ourselves enveloped by great swathes of forests and the beautiful Dolomites. We’re in the heart of mountain-food country. The region has given rise to either course, hearty peasant dishes or delicate, aristocratic cuisine - there is no bourgeois in between. The celadon-jade Adige River glistens through the entire region, from the Alps toward the Adriatic.
As the hybrid name suggests, the region can be divided into two provinces, Trentino in the Italian-speaking south and Alto Adige in the German-speaking north. Upon reading a menu in Trentino Alto-Adige, you may find certain words vaguely familiar, like crauti, and upon reflection realize it is an Italian transliteration of Sauerkraut, one of many transliterations found on menus throughout the area. But before we get carried away by the Austrian influence, from its style of architecture to its Germanic sounding streets and menus, we should recall the traces of the Roman Empire, which once held sway in the land. In this regard, the region is more Italian than the Italians give it credit for. But with this nod to Rome, we must admit that the old Austro-Hungarian Empire’s mark is dominant. It’s grip is strongest in the Northern province, Alto-Adige, otherwise known as Bolzano. Before WWI, this area was the South Tyrol of Austria. It may have changed names after the war, but the cooking is still the cooking of Tyrol. And the land is still covered in forests and the Alps still rise in the north.
Although the province of Trentino spent far less time under the Austrians, the Austrian influence is profound. As in other wintry, mountainous regions we’ve covered, sweets play a big part in making life (in the cold) pleasurable. And Austrians are known for their sweet-tooth. You can delight in fruit filled, jam packed strudels galore! Wine is another well-trodden way to endure the winter chill. If the two Provinces are largely indistinguishable when it comes to food, their wines are far more distinct: Bolzano displays Germanic styles of winemaking and Trentino, Italian styles, with Trentino taking the lead in producing some of finest white wines in the world. Unfortunately, for both, the world has pegged the region as a low-quality producer, due to its large co-ops like Ca’Vit. But if you look closer, you’ll find delicately fragrant, balanced white wines that should be at the top of every wine lover’s list. In the Adige Valley, the micro-climate creates beautiful conditions for wine-making: cool breezes pour down from the Alps and mingle magically with warm air from Lake Garda, as the vines dig deep into gravelly soil, high up in the sky - this is prime terroir.
We’ve prepared an exquisite menu to give you a taste of Italy (or Austria?) - so raise a glass of white wine and experience beautiful cuisine that expresses a creative, cultural mix - as all the best things do.
Prost! Zum wohl!.....Saluti!
Wait, pizza? But we haven’t hit Naples yet, you say! Ok, we’re taking poetic license here and adding two iconic Trentino specialties, Speck and Fontal cheese, to that beloved southern Italian, Neapolitan creation - Pizza. Speck is Trentino’ s answer to Prosciutto, but smokier, more robust, and dare we say, more enjoyable? We do. The crowned jewel of Bolzano, Speck is a Tyrolean speciality that has two key ingredients: time and the crisp Alpine air. Speck paired with buttery, aromatic Fontal cheese, beloved all throughout Northern Italy, is a dynamite combination. We’ve added thinly sliced potatoes to highlight potatoes as one of the main vegetables of Trentino- Alto Adige cuisine and to finish off the hearty, warming taste of the dish. North meets South in our Speck Pizzette in the most delicious of ways.
Salmerino del Trentino
This lean, fresh char fish has delicate flavors and is expressive of the pure, cold waters of Trentino’s lakes and reservoirs. Our Wild Rice Blend, Carrot Sauce, and Wood-Fire Roasted Beets bring out elements of Trentino cuisine rooted (literally) in the region. The lightness of the fish combined with the hearty root vegetables creates a harmonious play of both dense and delicate foods to dance across your palate.
In the U.S., nothing says German cooking quite like Schnitzel. We’ve chosen this dish to highlight the Austro-Germanic influence upon the region. Our crispy, thin pork schnitzel is crusted with panko bread crumbs and herbs. It is complemented by wild chestnut mushrooms and a creamy porcini sauce to highlight the wide variety of mushrooms indigenous to the forest-cloaked Trentino region, and finished with a lightly pickled fennel and cucumber salad. Delight in a dish that sings with both cultural and topographical notes.
Our Strudel Con le Mele combines two of the most renowned foods from Trentino Alto-Adige: their crispy, scrumptious strudels and their sweet, delicious apples. The making of the delicate pastry is the result of refined practice and the reward for such labor is an unforgettable, decadent treat.