My best lunch experience this side of the year was in the Dolomites, in Alta Badia. I’d had a spectacularly rotten morning, as I got lost on the slopes and got separated from the rest of the group. The Italian had to come and get me and he was cross, “why hadn’t I seen him? Why did I go straight?”. We had an argument, we didn’t speak for a while and I had a pout on until I had to put my focused face on. I don’t ski that well.
We skiid to catch up with the others and it was a fair distance. By the time we were re-united again, it was past lunch time. The group wanted to continue, but I said halt. I had spotted a restaurant with the best panoramic view ever, we were at an altitude of 2,000 metres.
South Tyrolean food is fantastic. It’s rustic with quality produce (a marriage between Italian and German specialities), which is exactly what you want when you’re skiing, and you’re not forced to eat hot dogs with chips. They have that too, but there’s so much better food on offer and it’s not limited to only a few high end restaurants. The only problem is the menu, Everything has been translated, which might be a good thing in theory, but in fact it’s not. Potato dumplings don’t sound tasty, gnocchi do. Raw meat shouldn’t be a way to describe prosciuotto crudo, and so forth.
How lucky am I to have a partner that speaks the language and can accentuate with his hands and make sounds how fantastic something is. This is what Italians do, you know. So, upon his suggestion, I went for the venison ragu with pappardelle (thick noodles as the translation would say), with a glass of Barolo wine. The ragu was topped with crisp vegetables julienne.
Jösses. That’s an expression from my part of the world, it tasted fantastic. Obviously, the experience was heightened by the scenery, the wine, the exhaustion of wearing heavy ski boots. When the pasta is homemade (end egg-based), it’s light and easy to digest. You don’t tend to look like a 6-month pregnant lady after the meal. The thinly sliced vegetables, which would normally be excluded in such a meaty dish, gave that extra crunch that made the texture and taste endlessly better.
We finished off with a smooth coffee tiramisu and I can assure you that I did not want to ski down the mountain at all, at that point. I wanted to sit and analyse the components of the tiramisu further (creamy, soggy, crunchy, powdery). The Italian however, wanted to ski the giant slalom slope, Gran Risa and so we set off. Eventually, we were so late and so far off that we had to ski 3 hours straight to catch the last lift back to our village. In hindsight, at last we burnt off the calories of the Barolo and tiramisu faster then you can say Alta Badia.