Stemming from a bygone era when farmers would visit neighboring homesteads to taste the nuien or new wine, Törggelen (from the latin term torculum, the equipment used to squeeze the grapes) is a celebration of the end of the grape harvest. It is in this period of dwindling daylight hours in which the custom embodies all things autumnal, be it the leaves that turn brilliant hues of fiery red, gold, yellow and orange, or in the sweet nutty aroma of roasting chestnuts, and it is during this time of year that Valle Isarco turns into a paradise for tourists and others like myself who are drawn to the pleasure of good food and drink.
Commencing from around the end of September and through November, a great number of wine producers, farmhouses and all degree of food establishments open their doors in a nod towards the vino novello. Saturdays are especially busy, or so we’ve been told, as whole families turn out for the weekend. If you want to take on an entire afternoon of törggelening (I just made that word up!), several locations are in close proximity and can be reached by connecting footpaths.
As this was our first Törggelen, we went to nearby Unteraichner in Barbiano. They offered a multi-course Törggelemenu, with everything made in-house and served by family members dressed in traditional garb.
Dessert: assorted krapfen. Fried strips of pastry dough filled with fruit jam and chestnut puree. At this point we could barely finish half of what was on the plate. This was followed by a basket of apples and grapes, grappino (a tiny shot of housemade grappa), and coffee.
The meal lasted 2.5 hours, due to rather lengthy intervals between each dish. I don’t know if it’s just how they roll or if the kitchen was short on help, but thankfully the experience won’t be one that my tastebuds will ever forget. I can only sum it up like this:
The good: total sum including water and half liter of house wine – 58€
The not so good: too many flies. I know it’s farm country, but battling them at dinner? We sent at least 5 to insect heaven.
FYI: reservations suggested; no credit cards; dog-friendly.