Food and wine, flavours, traditions... Discovering the territory and the typical products
Trentino offers intriguing paths into taste to the finest and most delicate palates and to those who love the liveliness of tradition, thanks to the high-quality raw materials and products that are typical of its territory. We can make an ideal tour throughout the local flavours, starting for instance from Valsugana, European leader in the production and commercialization of the fruits from the woods, commonly called small fruits. A big part of its territory is dedicated to the cultivation of those tasty and multi-coloured berries, together with the cultivation of apples. Among the traditional products there are tasty sausages like the lucanica trentina and different kinds of cheese made in Lagorai alpine huts and in the Vezzena plateau, which gives the name to the homonymous cheese.
Such cheese was much loved by king Franz Joseph of Austria, who used to end his meals with some pieces of this intriguing product. It will be a pleasure for those who love nature and genuine things to discover the Vigolana plateau, located in a privileged position between the Valsugana valley and Trento, with its typical production and exclusive mountain bike, horse riding and hiking tracks. Moving towards 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 in practice his knowledge of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero grapefruits, which he had acquired thanks to his permanence in France.
He thus created the first wine with effervescence- obtained with the “Classic method”, which requires refermentation in bottle - which is today called Trentodoc. Taking a walk around Trento’s streets and visiting the Castello del Buonconsiglio, a castle dating back to the Renaissance period, will leave you and indelible memory. Travelling further in this direction, we can see on the right the Valle di Cembra with its hills where rows of vines producing Muller grapefruit grow in those which are considered the most impervious cultivated lands in the alpine mountains. Very warm days and cool nights give the homonymous wine its unmistakable smell. To this wine is also dedicated a famous exhibition taking place in the summer.
Proceeding in the same direction, we discover the most important red wine from Trentino. We are talking about the Teroldego Rotaliano D.O.C. (Controlled origin denomination), obtained from Teroldego grapes, which are cultivated in a flat land which Cesare Battisti, a noted Italian geographer, and irredentist politician, called “The most beautiful grapevine garden of Europe”. Leaving behind the village of Mezzolombardo, we enter in 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 reason for pride for the Val di Non inhabitants. 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 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 localities: Madonna di Campiglio. It is also famous for its typical sausages and the Spressa cheese, key product of the Rendena and Giudicarie, which has been recognized the D.O.P. (Protected origin denomination) status. Talking about skiing, we must mention localities like 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 stink of the by now well-known Puzzone di Moena. Continuing our tour, we choose to visit Rovereto.
How 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 of Garda. The climatic benefits this lake brings to the valley give the vegetables here cultivated an intense and particular flavour. These vegetables are cultivated also through biological, biodynamic and integrated pest management production,. If we feel like taking a ride with our bicycle, we can go from Trento to Garda lake along the ancient road that was once used by the Austrian kings with their carriages, thus going 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 Dro plums. Thanks to the wind, the so-called “Ora del Garda”, particularly important for the surf lovers, it is possible to obtain one of the most valuables straw wines in the world, 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 still fresh or smoked and are optimal ingredients for many local or creative recipes. Although this may seem strange to those who think of 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 obtain an aromatic and delicate extra virgin olive oil . Such oil is optimal to dress any dish and it 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 really appreciated by gourmets all over Italy and elsewhere too. It is usually eaten raw or grilled, with a bean salad on the side, dressed with Garda olive oil and, why not, some drops of apple vinegar. We finish with Trento’s grappa: a magic that takes shape in the local agricultural tradition, with its multiple smells and hints. From the distillation through modern alembics of the precious pomace leftover from the must extraction, drop by drop, we obtain grappa, a kind of brandy. The big variety of vineyards which characterizes the territory of Trentino is reflected in the different kinds of grappa coming 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 patrimony of organolectic 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 made by a tasting commission 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 are genuine! What matters most, beyond friendship and the pleasure to stay all together, is the taste that only typical products are able to offer. From Vézzena cheese to cornmeal mush, from the scented speck to the salted meat, delicious mushroom, Cimbrian cuisine, strudel and zelten… and finally with the pure mountain honey to whom is dedicated a museum!
A local gastronomic speciality is the potatoes mush. Once you obtain the mush, you have to cook direct on fire with the add of butter, chopped onion, grated Vézzena until the dough is dip in egg, which should be served with baked meats and gravy. Potatoes mush 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 was rested on windowsill (in our dialect the “Pontesel” is the windowsill).
Unmistakable is the speck, a natural product, handcrafted by true experts of the preparation and smoke flavouring. Typical of Alpe Cimbra are also Landjager and Krainer: the first are little delicate meat salami, they have a complicated handmade and the particularity is that they are seasoned with red wine; the second are a delight for the palate with their dough of cheese and meet. Lusérn, Cimbrian oasis of Germany derivation, maintain also in the cuisine the ancient traditions: the Kaiserschmarren, big crêpes fry in butter and served very warm, with on top some marmalade, usually of blueberry, or simply consumed with sugar.