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Snapshots from Italy: Alto-Adige

June 29, 2011

Rather than sharing recipes – which would be silly considering I haven’t actually cooked anything since arriving in Italy – I’ll share some possibly relevant and/or inspiring tidbits from Italy’s diversissimi culinary cultures. My lack of cooking can be explained by any number of things – from sheer laziness to Bologna’s stifling heat to her abundance of piadina, squaquerone and mortadella. Over the weekend we escaped the mortadella to cooler weather in the gorgeous area around Siusi allo Sciliar in South Tirol-Alto Adige, where Francesco spent every summer as a child.

After just a three hour drive from Bologna, it was like we were in a different country. A German-speaking, wurst-eating, leder-hosen wearing country.

I’ve come to love trips to Siusi, which is the last little town before the enormous Alpe di Siusi, Europe’s largest Alpine plain (think: The Sound of Music). The whole Alpe seemed to be in bloom with wild rhododendron, chive flowers and buttercups. Each day after a fortifying breakfast of apple strudel, we would walk for hours, even climbing to an altitude of 2,300 meters (which is like 838,219 feet) before stopping for lunch at a malga, a refuge, which are actually more like full-functioning restaurants. Lots of the malga only open in the summer months – when the residents from the towns below come up to the Alpe to graze their cows – and most serve truly delicious food.

A highlight, even if I can’t stomach a whole glass, is the fresh milk, practically still warm.

And then there are the canederli allo speck – much like the Jewish candelach but full of smoked bacon – served in broth or in a sauce of just-caught game or fresh-picked porcini.

canederli allo speck con sugo di capriolo

canederlo allo speck con porcini

The malghe serve spaetzle and wurst and schüttelbrot – fried eggs with hash browns and speck (the cousin of a classic American breakfast) – and lots and lots of beer. Once you’ve got your fill and rested your legs, then come the sweets. The world-famous strudel; my personal favorite, torta di grano saraceno (which I made here); and the star of the show, kaiserschmarrn, a thick, broken crepe/omelet topped with lingonberry sauce and icing sugar (which was gone so fast I didn’t get a picture).

Breakfast! Strudel di mele da Cafe Erika

torta di grano saraceno with whipped cream

After lunch, and perhaps a quick snooze, we’d be off again.

Walking in the clouds and thinking of the next meal.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2011 10:42 pm

    That looks soooo beautiful and I am sooo jealous!! It sounds and looks like you are having a really wonderful time. Just don’t hike too much! Of course, eating too much is always allowed with such amazing offerings.

  2. Brenna permalink
    June 29, 2011 11:27 pm

    IDYLLIC! EEEEEK jalouse!

  3. Brenna permalink
    June 29, 2011 11:47 pm

    TORTA DI GRANO!

  4. Brenna permalink
    June 29, 2011 11:47 pm

    Ok, I’ll stop internet screaming….

  5. Nancy permalink
    June 30, 2011 11:46 pm

    Last summer we went to a malga in Monte Corno in the Trentino-Alto Adige. We stopped in and bought some fresh ricotta pie (torta di ricotta). It was the best I have ever had, and I have attempted to remake it at home, but it is obviously not the same. Buon viaggio!

  6. Ed Walsh permalink
    July 1, 2011 6:27 am

    Have a wonderful vacation! What a beautiful place to be.

  7. July 1, 2011 7:42 pm

    Beautiful!

    I hear that South Tirol has incredible food. Toby’s parents vacation there every year as well.

    I look forward to hearing more about your vacation eating!

  8. Jess permalink
    July 2, 2011 1:23 pm

    Hi Leanne! I’m an avid reader of your blog, which I really enjoy, btw.

    I am actually heading to Italy next week and will be making a stop in Bologna. If you have any restaurant, market, coffee shop, gelato, etc. suggestions, I would love to hear them.

    Enjoy your trip and keep up the great work!

    Jessica

  9. Nina (the friend) permalink
    July 5, 2011 4:45 am

    Happy 4th of July! Love you!

  10. July 22, 2011 10:09 am

    oh wow! beautiful place, beautiful food, you are so lucky 😀

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