TRENTINO ALTO ADIGE IN TAVOLA
This mountainous region in northeastern Italy is known for its dramatic views and hearty foods like canderli and speck.
Trentino Alto Adige is located in northeastern Italian and stretches across the Dolomite Alps. The region is home to aromatic pine forests, crystal clear alpine lakes and gently rolling, vine-covered hills that lead down to the Veneto plains. Many of the people living high up in the mountains are originally from Tyrol and define themselves as such. The fortressed castles and mountain dwellings are symbols of their cultural autonomy and protectionist instincts.
Moving south through the mountain valleys, allegiance shifts towards the ancient Veneto-padano culture, which is closely tied to agriculture and farming. Like the geography and the people, the cuisine of Trentino Alto Adige is divided in its approach: half of the food is Central European, and the other half is strongly influenced by the Veneto cuisine. The only thing the two have in common is their reliance on food preservation, which was a necessity during the long winters. Throughout the region, you can find special, long-lasting breads, smoked sausages, cheeses and fermented vegetables.
Any leftover bread is used to make Canederli, or Austrian knodel, large potato dumplings flavored with smoked speck, and mixed with milk, egg and flour. The dumplings are cooked in stock and served either in the stock itself, or dry and tossed with sauce. Canederli are more commonly served with spicy meat gulasch.
Speck is the region’s most important salume. Often handmade by local farmers, speck, like prosciutto, is made from a pig’s rear thigh. The meat is slowly smoked so that it will keep for months. Mortandela, from Val di Non, is another important type of local smoked salume. As in all mountainous areas, game is eaten throughout the region, and is often served with berry or applesauce, as is the custom in Austria.
The dark forest berries are also used, together with cream or chocolate, in many of the classic desserts of Alto-Adige. The most famous in undoubtedly strudel, a simple sheet of pastry dough rolled up with apples and spices. Val di Non is known to have the perfect growing conditions of apple trees. In the valleys, the desserts start to resemble the sweets of the Veneto.
Torta Fregolotta, a crumply almond tart, and grostoli, a type of fritter, are both made from simple recipes that pair well with the excellent wines of the region.