Enjoy Fine Dining in South Tyrol
Like all Italians, the South Tyrolean’s take their food very seriously. South Tyrol’s unique blend of Italian, Tyrolean and Ladin cultures is reflected in the variety and fusion of flavours found in the region’s cuisine. As an almost inevitable result, it is home to some of Europe’s finest restaurants and award-winning wine producers.
South Tyrol boasts 22 Michelin stars across 19 restaurants, including three of such exceptional quality that they boast two stars. One of those is St Hubertus at the Hotel Rosa Alpina, where head chef Norbert Niederkofler is legendary for his ‘Cook the Mountains’ approach to food, using only ingredients direct from South Tyrol’s mountains. Niederkofler is a master at using the ingredients he grew up with in innovative ways – check out his spectacular beetroot gnocchi or pine needle-infused marshmallow.
Great Food at Altitude
Delicious homemade cuisine can be found in mountain huts throughout this stunning region. Enjoy a flower salad at Gostner Schwaige on the Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm Alpine pasture; sample the best fish in South Tyrol at the Rifugio Comici on the slopes above Val Gardena; and finish off with the best grappa on the slopes at Rifugio Jimmy on the sellaronda above Alta Badia.
Such is the special relationship between food and the slopes in South Tyrol, in fact, that there is even an event dedicated to combing the two. A Taste for Skiing is a celebration of great skiing and gourmet food, and is this year being run in association with Le Soste – an organisation grouping the best Italian Michelin-starred chefs working in Italy and abroad.
Throughout the winter, they create magnificent dishes paired with South Tyrolean wine in 14 huts across the slopes of Alta Badia. The concept is simple: finger or street food on the slopes, refined by world-class chefs. Visitors can ski from hut to hut, enjoying world-class food in a special location. This season, visitors can buy a slope food card to try three Slope Foods in three different huts for a discounted price of just €30. Individual Slope Food offerings are available at €12, and include a glass of wine.
The aforementioned Norbert Niederkofler (two Michelin stars) will be creating a dish for this winter’s Slope Food, as will other South Tyrolean experts Matteo Metullio (one star) and Nicola Laera (one star).
Raise your Glasses
Visitors with a taste for wine will also find that South Tyrol has much to offer. South Tyrol is one of Italy’s smallest winegrowing regions – producing just 0.7 per cent of Italy’s wine – but an amazing 98 per cent of its wines are produced in conformance with Italy’s strict Denominazione di Origine Controllata rules.
Tre bicchieri – which translates as ‘three glasses’ – is the top award bestowed by prestigious Italian wine guide / vini d’italia, published by Gambero Rosso, and 27 wines from South Tyrol were deemed worthy of meriting the accolade in the 2016 guide.
In spite of South Tyrol’s relatively modest vineyard area of 12,350 acres producing just 4.7 million bottles, the province produces more than 5 per cent of all Tre Bicchieri wines. An added bonus is that due to the land being too steep, all South Tyrolean wine is hand-harvested. Visit ww.altodigewines.com for more details of wine from the region.
Grape seeds found in iron-age strata testify to over 3,000 years of wine-growing tradition in South Tyrol. Today the region offers a range of grape varieties yielding impressive wines, from full-bodied reds that thrive in the hot, lower vineyards to elegant, perfumed whites usually associated with northern Europe.
This unique variety is a result of South Tyrol’s geographical position. Situated on the southern side of the Alps, most mountainsides are south-facing and have varying altitudes from the hot valley floor to cool vine-covered slopes over 1,000 metres high. The central Alpine ridge acts as a barrier against cold Atlantic weather, allowing the warm Mediterranean air to fill the valleys in summer and autumn.
In fact, South Tyrol enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year. This exceptionally warm climate, combined with an abundance of fresh air, crystal clear water, mineral rich soil and cool nights, provides the optimum conditions for producing the finest wines.