By Alessandra Bianco, MA 2013-14
It’s cold in Florence this week, which has us thinking about ski weekends and mountain getaways. While Tuscany does offer ski options, we’re thinking of bigger mountains, like those found in Trentino-Alto Adige, a region in the north of Italy that shares a border with Switzerland and Austria. Formerly a part of Austria-Hungary, this region’s culture is heavily influenced by its roots, and not only are you likely to find many German speakers in this region, you will also see foods that are unlike those found in other areas of Italy.
Ur-Paarl is a typical bread from Trentino-Alto Adige with Austrian roots, hence its German name. It is shaped as a number eight and is made with rye, spelt flours, and yeast. Herbs from the area, such as fennel seeds, are often added.
This cheese is named after the capital of the Altopiano dei Sette Comuni (Plateau of the Seven Communes). The ‘official’ Asiago is produced in the town of Asiago. in the province of Vicenza, which is part of the Veneto, but it is also commonly made in Trentino-Alto Adige. Asiago DOP cheese’s authentic production process dates back to the year 1000, when the cheese was made with ewe’s milk. The farmers gradually changed from raising sheep to cows. Asiago became referred as Asiago d’Allevo, or matured. Asiago d’alleva is made from raw milk from Pezzata Nero and Bruno Alpina cows.
If you want to learn more about the Asiago aging process visit:
Local Produce – Apples
“More than four million apples of all varieties and sizes are produced each year in these valleys and today, more than ever, they are used satisfy a growing overseas market. Italy is the world’s sixth largest producer, and Europe’s second, with 2.2 million tons of apples. Golden Delicious is the second cultivated apple variety globally and the first in Trentino where around ten thousand hectares are dedicated to apple production. Trentino is particularly well-suited to the growing of high-quality fruit, and production totals for 2009 were around 450 thousand tons, accounting for 21 per cent of the national market. One in five apples eaten in Italy comes from Trentino, and together with Alto Adige, it provides over 60% of apple production in Italy.” – Quoted from http://www.italiaoutdoorsfoodandwine.com.
Gnocchi, Gnocchi, and more Gnocchi
Canderli Trentini or Knodel – Large gnocchi made with stale bread, milk, flour and egg, and flavored with a variety of different ingredients: salami, speck, spinach, nettles, cheese, and parsley. They are boiled in meat stock, and either served in the meat stock as a soup, or tossed in melted butter and served with grated cheese.
Nocken – A long thin shaped gnocchi di pane (bread gnocchi) from the Bolzano area. They can be flavored with spinach, buckwheat, beet greens, nettles, and cheese. They are served with melted butter and grated cheese.
Schwarzplentene Spatzeln – These are small gnocchi made with buckwheat flour, cheese and melted butter.
Strangolapreti – Green gnocchi made with spinach or kale or beet greens, stale bread, milk, eggs and flour. They are served with melted butter, cheese and sage. This dish was traditionally served on Fridays, when religious restrictions forbade the consumption of meat. As the legend goes, priests and other clergy members very much enjoyed this dish, and would eat it until they choked, hence the name strangolapreti, or priest stranglers.