How do you lodge when traveling? Half board, full board or B&B? We have never gone with pensione completa (full board with breakfast, lunch & dinner) and rarely ever mezza pensione (half board with breakfast & dinner), because bed & breakfast options work better for the way we like to explore Italy. Tasting a region’s local cuisine via Slow Food recommendations is half the thrill of running around this country in the first place, but sometimes it can be to our disadvantage if a trattoria is way off the beaten track and we’re exhausted from a whole day of touring. Only under such circumstances would I consider half board if we’re booking an extended weekend, so imagine my interest when the gasthof’s proprietress replied with room rates and added “..sarei lieta di viziarVi con la mia cucina per un paio di giorni.” [I would be glad to spoil you with my cooking for a couple of days.] Spoil me?! Mezza pensione at 45€ each per day was a done deal without having to think twice.
Compared to the usual cappuccino-and-brioche standard that I’ve grown accustomed to since moving here, the first meal of the day in Alto Adige is a big deal. We started with coffee and hot milk, fresh yogurt, muesli, wholegrain bread, butter, an assortment of homemade jams (tart plum, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, persimmon to name a few), sliced cheese and cured meats (produced by the proprietor) and fresh fruit for the taking right from the fruit bowl centerpiece. A pity that I don’t have a huge appetite first thing in the morning (lots of coffee though), because a girl could love to eat like this if she weren’t so full from the night before. Dinners were a delight with the chef’s use of herbs and spices, and meals always started with a fresh salad of a few mixed greens seasoned with olive oil and vinegar. I haven’t experienced this much elsewhere in Italy as the salad comes as a contorno alongside the second plate (fish, meat, etc). Primi first courses ran the gamut from beetroot bread gnocchi canederli in a light cream sauce that barely suggested of horseradish, freshly made tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, creamy leek soup hinting of basil and parsley, and short pasta with speck, radicchio, cream and a hint of green peppercorns. Secondi courses were no less tantalizing, with the veal medallions on mushroom risotto still in my memory. And finally, homemade desserts of which a semifreddo beguilingly flavored with a syrup of young pine buds that blew my tastebuds away. Naturally, you can’t go a day in Trentino-Alto Adige without coming across a slice of apple studel!
So where are all the food photos? All stored away in my head, I’m sorry to say. The best new thing I tasted? A pastry called lumachina (far left in the photo) that resembles a flat cinnamon roll but is filled with a sweet poppy seed mixture.