Food and wine, flavours, traditions... Discovering the territory and the typical products
Trentino offers many intriguing tastes and thanks to the high-quality raw materials and products that are typical of the area, even the finest and most delicate palates will be satisfied. We can suggest an ideal tour throughout these local flavours, starting with Valsugana; the European leader in the production and commercialization of woodland fruits, commonly referred to as small fruits.
A large part of its territory is dedicated to the cultivation of those tasty and multi-coloured berries, together with the harvesting of apples. Among the traditional products available there are tasty sausages like the lucanica trentina and a various assortment of cheeses made in Lagorai alpine huts and in the Vezzena plateau, which carry the same name. Such cheese was much loved by king Franz Joseph of Austria, who used to end his meals with some of this intriguing product.
It will be a pleasure for those who love nature to discover the Vigolana plateau, located in a privileged position between the Valsugana valley and Trento. With its typical production and exclusive mountain biking, horse riding and hiking tracks. Moving towards the north-west, we arrive to Trento, the capital city of our region. Trento gave birth to the Italian Spumante. It was in fact Giulio Ferrari who, more than 100 years ago, put into practice his knowledge of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero grapefruits, which he had acquired during his permanence in France. He thus created the first wine with effervescence.
Obtained through the ‘Classic method’, which requires refermentation in a bottle - which is today we call Trentodoc. Take a walk around Trento’s streets and visit the Castello del Buonconsiglio, a castle dating back to the Renaissance period, will leave you with incredible memories. Whilst travelling further in this direction, we can see the Valle di Cembra with its rolling hills, where rows of vines producing Muller grapefruit grow.
These are considered the most impervious cultivated lands in the alpine mountains. Very warm days and cool nights give the grapes their unmistakable aroma and dedicated to this wine there’s a famous exhibition that takes place in summer. Proceeding in the same direction, we discover the most important red wine from Trentino. We’re talking about the Teroldego Rotaliano D.O.C. (Controlled origin denomination), obtained from Teroldego grapes, which are cultivated on flat land where Cesare Battisti, a noted Italian geographer, and irredentist politician, noted as “The most beautiful grapevine garden of Europe”.
Leaving behind the village of Mezzolombardo, we enter into the enchanting valley of apples: the Valle di Non, well-known for the rich and fine production of this fruit. Growing apples is the main economic activity of the region, and together with the Grana Trentino, it is a reason for great pride for the people of Val di Non. Grana Trentino was born in the village of Brez at the beginning of the 1900s; this cheese is currently produced in 17 dairies in the province, using more than half of our cows’ milk production. From Cles, which is the political and economic center of the Valle di Non.
We then move towards Malè, the main village of the adjacent Valle di Sole. In this valley, other than tourism inhabitants dedicate their time to the production of the Casolet cheese. It is often obtained from raw milk and it is monitored by one of the most important food and drink associations in the world. Through a wonderful mountain road, we arrive to the gem of Trentino’s skiing locations: Madonna di Campiglio. It is also famous for its typical sausages and Spressa cheese, a key product of the Rendena and Giudicarie, which has been recognized as having D.O.P. (Protected origin denomination) status. Furthermore in regards to skiing, we must mention Cavalese, Canazei or Moena where, in addition to the numerous kinds of cheese produced in the alpine huts with cow and goat milk, you can also smell the scent of the by now well-known Puzzone di Moena.
Continuing our tour, we choose to visit Rovereto. It is hard to resist to a glass of its wine, associated with the area since the ancient times and even mentioned in the opera “Don Giovanni“ Classic music experts will remember Mozart’s opera’s protagonist who, during a banquet, stands up with a glass of wine in his hand and says: ”This Marzemino is excellent!”. From here we can easily reach the Valle di Gresta, an amazing plateau from where you can admire the below Lake Garda. The climatic benefits this lake brings to the valley give the vegetables harvested here an intense and particular flavour. These vegetables are cultivated through organic, biodynamic and through integrated pest management production methods.
If you feel like taking a ride with your bicycle, you can go from Trento to Lake Garda along the ancient road that was once used by the Austrian kings with their carriages, thus taking you through the amazing Valle dei Laghi. Here thanks to the presence of small but numerous watercourses, the climate is particularly warm, which allows for the cultivation and drying of the most sought after plums. The wind, the so-called “Ora del Garda”, is particularly important for the windsurf lovers here and it is possible to obtain one of the most valuable straw wines in the world here.
The Vino Santo Trentino, which is obtained from Nosiola grapes. Here cold rivers and pure streams flow into the breeding tanks of salmonids like brown Trouts and Arctic chars, which are consumed fresh or smoked and are perfect ingredients for many local and creative recipes. Although this may seem unusual to those who associate Trentino as a place for skiing and climbing, along the Garda banks and in the surrounding areas we find plenty of olive trees. From which we gain an aromatic and delicate extra virgin olive oil .
Such oil is a beautiful addition to dressing any dish and is surely perfect for the carne salada (salted meat). Salted meat is a delicacy from Trentino, and it derives from an ancient conservation method: beef is pickled with a mix of salt, pepper and aromatic herbs. It is appreciated by gourmets all over Italy and beyond. It is usually eaten raw or grilled, with a bean salad, dressed with Garda olive oil and some drops of apple vinegar. We finish with Trento’s grappa: a magic that takes place within local agricultural traditions. With its unique aroma and taste, from the distillation through to modern alembics and extraction, drop by drop we obtain our grappa, a form of brandy.
The variety of vineyards which characterizes this area of Trentino is reflected in the different kinds of grappa originating from the different pomace varieties. Be them mixed, red and white, indigenous from a single vineyard (Teroldego, Rotaliano, Marzemino and Nosiola) or of other important varieties (Muller, Traminer aromatico, Chardonnay, Schiava, etc…) each one expresses its distinctive features, revealing its own characteristics. A vigilant consumer should not miss the distinctive peculiarity that distinguishes high-quality grappa in Trentino: a trident with the writing “Trentino Grappa” on the bottleneck.
This is a trademark which was recognized solely after a careful selection was made by a tasting commission, that is managed by Trento’s Chamber of Commerce together with the “Istituto Tutela della Grappa Trentina”, which ensures the excellent nature and the authenticity of the product. Alpe Cimbra: Genuine Temptations of Alpe Cimbra: It is difficult to stand up to temptations, when they are this good! What matters most, beyond friendship and the happiness of being together, is the taste that only typical products are able to offer.
From Vézzena cheese to speck and delicious wild mushrooms, Cimbrian cuisine, strudel and zelten… and not forgetting the pure mountain honey to whom is a museum is dedicated! A local gastronomic speciality is the rosti potatoes. Once you obtain the correct consistency, you must cook it directly on a fire stove whilst adding butter, chopped onions, and grated Vézzena until the dough is ready to coat in egg. This should be served with baked meats and gravy.
Potato rosti is very well matched with another typical dish of Alpe Cimbra: il Tonco del Pontesel, a stew of mixed meats and sausage. Many years ago it would rest on people’s windowsill’s throughout the area (in our dialect the “Pontesel” means the windowsill). Unmistakable is the speck, a natural smoked product, handcrafted by true experts. Typical of Alpe Cimbra are also Landjager and Krainer: the first being delicate meats; salami. They are handmade and the particularity is that they are seasoned with red wine. The second is a delight for the palate, a meat sausage filled with cheese. Lusérn, Cimbrian reflects a mixture of traditions derived from Germany, that you can see still remain in the cuisine today.
The ancient food traditions such as the Kaiserschmarren, continue to be popular. Large crêpes fried in butter and served warm with fruit marmalades, usually blueberry, or sometimes simply eaten with sugar.