The food on ski holidays tends to be of the comforting sort, heavy on the carbohydrates with lashings of rich sauce.
Not so in Alta Badia. This Italian valley in South Tyrol takes its food as seriously as it takes its skiing. When you step into a mountain hut fresh from the slopes, you are more likely to be handed a glass of delicious local wine and served a gourmet dish influenced by the region’s Austro-Italian heritage.
Italy’s northernmost region has become the country’s most decorated in terms of Michelin stars – it has 26 and counting – while Alta Badia itself boasts six stars in just nine square miles.
Perhaps it has something to do with the blend of Mediterranean climate and fertile Alpine landscapes in the sun-baked Dolomites, or perhaps it is the mix of Austrian and Italian cuisine and ingredients. Whatever the secret, Alta Badia is fast becoming a gastronomic hub set in the heart of the mountains.
Perhaps the leading light of this culinary movement is Norbert Niederkofler, who was recently awarded his third Michelin star for his St Hubertus restaurant set in the Hotel Rosa Alpina, in the Alta Badia village of San Cassiano.
Originally from the Bolzano/Bozen area of South Tyrol, Norbert travelled all over the world learning his craft before joining Rosa Alpina in 1994. Since then he has put the hotel on the map by showcasing local, seasonal produce with an emphasis on sustainability, basing his menu on the theme “Cook the Mountain”.
Chef Matteo Metullio isn’t far behind when it comes to accolades, with two Michelin stars for his La Siriola restaurant in Hotel Ciasa Salares, also in San Cassiano. Born in Trieste and trained as much in creating traditional dishes as gourmet fare, Matteo spent four years working with Norbert at St Hubertus before setting out on his own.
As the executive chef at La Siriola he became the youngest in Italy with a Michelin star for his fresh, Mediterranean cuisine, featuring the finest ingredients from all over Italy. Don’t miss the eight-course tasting menu, featuring a physical journey around the restaurant, taking in the specialist cheese and chocolate rooms.
Alta Badia is also home to another Michelin-star chef, Nicola Laera, who was awarded his first star for La Stüa de Michil restaurant in Hotel La Perla in Corvara.
With a local Ladin mother and a father from Puglia, Nicola knows how to blend different culinary influences and uses them to create an innovative menu set in truly cosy surrounds. He serves dishes such as tortelli with goat’s ricotta cheese on lemon herbs and fumé deer carpaccio and cod with mushrooms, citrus fruits ponzu sauce and culatello ham.
With such a roster of culinary talent, it was only a matter of time before the Michelin-star chefs decided to combine great food with great skiing. That is how A Taste for Skiing was born, a whole concept based on celebrating the best of South Tyrol’s natural riches and culinary heritage.
The motto of the 10th edition of A Taste for Skiing will be #skitheitalianway. In fact, 10 gourmet chefs, assigned to a mountain hut on the slopes of Alta Badia, will represent the authentic nature of Italian cuisine and Italian ingredients, using incredibly high-quality products. Those dishes will be available throughout the season.
Whether you want to take a ski safari, skiing between different mountain huts to try gourmet fare, join a sommelier to ski around the mountain trying local wines, or celebrate the gastronomic ski week dedicated entirely to Ladin cuisine each March, there is a foodie event for you.
It is a chance to leave those memories of stodgy ski fare behind and try combining a day on the mountains with some of the best food found in South Tyrol.
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