Valle Isarco and its environs are dotted with so many picturesque villages that it’s difficult to choose which one to go to first. There was always the option of another scenic hike, but on day 2 into our trip, I was on a mission for local brews and Viennese-influenced desserts, all under the pretense of sightseeing and studying the architecture.
Is this part of Italy the land of wood-sculpting masters or something? I couldn’t believe how many sculptures we saw in a single afternoon, including this westie in Castelrotto. Mads wasn’t impressed.
On the edge of the village of Castelrotto stands a curious-looking sculpture of farm animals, one atop the other (below, left). In Bressanone, a man and his dog looks into a store window.
A beautiful fresco graces the facade at Hotel Elephant in Bressanone. Backed by 450 years of history, I bet those walls have a lot of stories to tell.
The pedestrian center of Bressanone is small enough for a single visit. Before the parking meter runs out, be sure to stop in at Cafè Pasticceria Pupp for a hot drink and dessert. Their baked treats are divine, but the chestnut cakes are exquisite.
AH Brau brewery – the result google spat out when I put in a bunch of search terms. Located right along the highway, several miles northwest of Bressanone, it has a casual atmosphere and a no-fuss menu. They make a seasonal beer along with their usual brew, and it was a chestnut one at the time we visited. Fantastic, and hit the spot for a late lunch.
Let’s see…five for us and 1 for the inlaws. Plus the one to come when MotH’s employer gives out the annual panettone for the holidays. That sounds about right, although there’s always the risk of succumbing to the 1/2 price sales come February. How many of these do you really need anyway?, is what the westie is probably wondering. She sat in to give an idea of what a half kilo (top) and 1 kilo bread (below) looks like, but these babies can be up to 5x larger and even more.
Our #1 favorite panettone continues to be from Ol Pastisser in Clusone (Bergamo), followed by Pasticceria Tabiano in Tabiano Terme (Parma). The fruit in the latter are bite-size chunks (as seen below), and the texture is soooo soft and soooo light that it feels like eating a slice of panettone cloud.
Il Piacere della Carne / the pleasure of the flesh. Process that one in either italian or english, it still sounds like a romp in the sack. But for lovers of italian cuisine, the Gran Bollito Misto (mixed boiled meats) is not quite as naughty as it sounds, and gave me another good reason to cross one more off the list of my 10 favorite winter dishes.
Gran Bollito Misto: mostarda, chicken, cotechino, testina, beef, bed roll, I meant bread roll (drat those freudian slips!). Eat in or take out. We took ours to go like many others who had the same idea. The event was held in Cremona’s auditorium on Sunday, Dec. 8th, and is part of a campaign by Strada del Gusto Cremonese to promote tourism through its cuisine.
No great meal goes without a just dessert, and Lanfranchi’s pasticceria (which just happened to be across the street from the bollito misto) brought me to my knees when I caught sight of their Mont Blanc. I have been searching for this dessert since…forever, but had no success until this past Sunday. I know it’s a seasonal thing but is Japan and France the only places where they Mont Blanc up the ying yang? Ditto for the marron glacé tart. Just think, if I hadn’t run out of mostarda…