Trentino alto adige
Two faces of the same region. For the landscape, the people, the gastronomy.
On the one hand, there is Trentino, with an atmosphere that still belongs to Veneto and features strong flavours. And on the other hand, there is Alto Adige, with its rarefied atmosphere and delicate aromas that come from neighbouring countries on the other side of the Alps.
The Trentino Alto Adige region stretches among the most beautiful mountains in the world, the pinnacles of the Dolomites, among resin-scented forest and alpine lakes so transparent that they seem unreal, and gentle hills covered in vineyards and orchards that descend towards the Veneto’s plain.
People originally from Tyrol live among the mountain peaks and they remain very much connected to their roots, between masi (rustic mountain homes) and fortified castles, symbols of a history of autonomy and protection for the community. Descending to the valley, the old culture of Veneto and the Po Valley reappears, tied to agriculture and cattle farming.
As for the land and the population, the gastronomic tradition of Trentino Alto Adige is also divided in two part. One has a typical Mitteleuropean imprint, while the other originates from Veneto. They may have in common the typical need of people from the mountains to preserve food resources during long winters, hence bread is made with flours that extend its lifespan, deli meats and cheeses are smoked, and vegetables are fermented.
Corn polenta, that is served mixed with chopped sautéed onions and boiled potatoes in a recipe from Trento, is replaced by buckwheat polenta, served with meat stews, mushrooms, cheeses, deli meats, and vegetables.
In Alto Adige, Canederli (the Austrian Knödel) are made with stale leftover bread. They are large dumplings often flavoured with smoked speck, mixed with milk, eggs and flour: they are boiled in stock and can be served in it or drained and dressed with sauces, however, more often they are served with spicy Meat Gulash.
In Trentino, the most popular first courses speak Italian and they are Ricotta dumplings and Maccheroni Timbale, typical of Trento and similar to other timbale dishes prepared in northern Italy.
As in all mountain areas, game meat dishes are very common, served the Austrian way, with sauces made with woodland fruits or apples, in a medley of sweet and sour tastes.
Among main courses from Alto Adige, Chamoix Tyrol-style, Snails Merano-style and the ever-present Würstel, typical frankfurter popular in the entire region and very much appreciated also as street food. In Trentino, instead, typical preparations are Beans with Carne Salata from Valsugana, Hare Trentino-style and Probusti, small smoked deli meat filled in casing traditionally served with sauerkrauts.
In Alto Adige, pastry means Strudel, a simple roll of puff pastry stuffed with apples, a fruit that has its ideal habitat especially in Val di Non, where there are extensive cultivations.
Descending towards the valleys desserts resemble those of Veneto, in the names also: Fregolotta cake, with flour, sugar and liquid cream, Carnival’s Grostoli, the humble Pinza Trentina, prepared with stale bread soaked in milk and chopped dried figs.
The most important deli meat in the region is Speck from Alto Adige, often still produced by farmers in an artisan fashion: it is made from pig haunch, like ham is, and undergoes a gradual and delicate smoking treatment.
Other important deli meat products are Mortandela from Val di Non, also smoked, and homemade salami, boiled and traditionally served with sauerkrauts.
The tasty Graukäse (aka Grey Cheese, for its colour) is the most typical cheese of this region, a product that comes from ancient dairy farming tradition and popular in Tyrol and Alto Adige, and Puzzone from Moena, aptly called Stinky because of its pungent smell and strong unmistakable taste, typical of Trentino.
Among other local products, the extra virgin olive oil from Garda Trentino and the exquisite wines of the region, from Trentino Marzemino to Alto Adige Pinot Nero, Moscato Giallo, which go very well with the traditional dishes.
“Strumming on the lute and emptying glasses these are the things that go together. A full glass of wine at the proper moment is worth more than all the kingdoms of the world! Gustav Mahler composed and wrote the music for this poem in Dobbiaco, Alta Val Pusteria, where between 1908 and 1910 he also composed the Ninth Symphony and the Adagio of the Tenth, which remained unfinished. Yet… the great Bohemian compositor, who was staying at the Trenker maso, at the edge of the forest, and used to compose in a tiny wooden house surrounded by greenery, had a drink only on special occasions, and always in moderation.
Some typical recipes
Why not cooking a typical dish from Trentino or Alto Adige? Here are some fun recipes.
Insalata con speck
Speck and radicchio are a perfect match in this rich and tasty salad.
Knödel are bread dumplings typical of Alto Adige. This is considered a peasant cuisine dish, because in the past stale leftover bread was used.
Costata di manzo con cipolle
The most classic steak, flavoured with onions, is the ideal combination for a sturdy regional red wine, such as Teroldego.
Strudel di mele
This typical dessert from Alto Adige is good for summer and winter, and it should be made with the Renetta apple, because of its low water content and it does not moist the dough while cooking.