If you are craving Alpine cuisine that embodies the hearty goodness of the Alps, we may have found your perfect cookbook.
Every travel-loving soul needs a go-to cookbook. Not for the times when out discovering the world, but for when life calls one home.
Cracking open a cookbook filled with culinary treasures from lands explored is a satisfying remedy for restless adventurers bound to their own kitchen. Nothing enlivens cherished memories quite like cooking up delicious dishes from travels abroad.
For us, the cookbook we cannot live without is Alpine Flavours: Authentic Recipes from the Dolomites, the heart of the Alps. When pining for the immensity of mountains and wild-hearted treks, we pull out this cultural gem of traditional Alpine recipes and bring mountain-born traditions to life in our home.
Centuries of Culinary Experience at Your Fingertips
At first glance, Alpine cuisine may seem simple, but unlocking the secrets to its rich flavors requires astutely following recipes that have stood the test of time. This becomes immediately apparent if you have ever tried to create a popular dish from the Alps, such as Schlutzkrapfen, without expert direction.
No matter what you make off the cuff, it will come out either bland, too salty or just plain bad. At least that has been our experience.
That’s why we were so thankful to stumble upon the Alpine Flavours Cookbook. It took us by the hand leading us on a culinary journey that never disappoints.
From mountain favorites such as Speckknödel (bacon dumplings) to Schweinshaxe (pork shank) to Hirschgulasch (venison goulash), as well as an assortment of pastries and apple-centered dishes, the cookbook shows step-by-step how to recreate the authentic flavors and down-home spirit honed over centuries deep within the Italian Dolomites.
Based on our time cooking with this book as a companion, we think it’s one every mountain lover should own. The Alps of South Tyrol are after all the world’s most tantalizing mountains; it’s no surprise its hearty cuisine offers equal enchantment.
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Savoring the Mountains
Alpine Flavours not only helps you relish Alpine cuisine but also whisks you away on a cultural odyssey. The cookbook is filled with captivating images of mountain food and life. From front to back, it is crafted like a perfectly plated dish. Alpine Flavours could just as easily adorn your coffee table as your countertop.
Each delicious dish is paired with an exquisite South Tyrolean wine such as the rich reds of Schiava and Lagrein to the complex whites of Gewürztraminer and beyond. South Tyrol is Italy’s smallest wine-producing area, yet it still surprises with the indisputable quality of its wines, which rank among the most awarded at the national level. Every 12th award-winning Italian wine comes from South Tyrol — an impressive feat for a region that represents just 0.7% of national production.
While you can certainly browse directly to whatever dish tempts you at the moment, the book is best devoured one page at a time. If food provides a window into a region’s history, values and soul, Alpine Flavours gives you a sweeping view of the Italian Alps.
You’ll come away with a historical foundation of South Tyrol’s cuisine. Not to mention a deep appreciation for how its rural heartiness has evolved into mountain recipes now revered.
Irresistible Alpine Recipes from the Alps
Even if your talents are less than average in the kitchen, you will have no problem finding dishes to easily tackle. The book designates recipes by their level of difficulty — easy, medium and high. And at nearly 300 pages, you will not run out of Alpine recipes to attempt.
Meals in South Tyrol are broken into courses and by and large, the book follows suit. It is organized into the following sections:
- Specialties & Typical Products – An in-depth introduction to the dairy products, meats, fish, fruit and vegetables comprising South Tyrol’s Alpine cuisine
- Rye Bread – Provides instructions on the various ways to prepare this much-loved bread
- First Courses – Includes 23 recipes covering everything from pasta to spaetzle to soup
- Gnocchi & Canederli (Knödel) – Offers six different dumpling recipes from cheese to spinach and more
- Speck – An introduction to this widely-celebrated aged meat that makes an excellent appetizer, snack or ingredient for main dishes
- Second Courses – Includes 19 savory meat and roast recipes spanning beef, pork, lamb and venison
- Side Dishes – Presents eight traditional side recipes including regional favorites such as polenta and potato dishes
- Tyrolean Desserts – Offers 22 tempting Alpine dessert recipes from buchteln to krapfen to strudel and more
- Grappas, Juices & Jams – Teaches how to make mountain gems such as elderflower syrup, pine schnapps and jams
Beyond the recipes, Alpine Flavours features ample information on the different South Tyrolean wines recommended, as well as an overview of Törggelen, a beloved autumn tradition that is South Tyrol’s largest annual culinary event.
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In South Tyrol, like much of Europe, mealtime is both an experience and an art form to appreciate and savor. If you long to harken back to a simpler time, Alpine Flavours can be your guide.
After creating a few of the dishes from the cookbook, we think it will become quite clear why South Tyrol is the culinary star of Italy — boasting more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other region of the country.
The rural roots of South Tyroleans make them exceptionally masterful at harnessing the flavors of the land from pasture to forest. Despite a population of a mere 500,000, South Tyrol is revered worldwide for the quality of the region’s ingredients as well as for their heartfelt preparation.
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Enjoying Alpine Food in Your Home
Not every ingredient mentioned in the book may be readily available unless you’re near the Alps or wish to have the regional specialties shipped to your home. Do not let that be a deterrent to enjoying any of the Alpine dishes within. By being a bit resourceful and a little creative you can find worthy ingredient substitutes as needed.
Depending on how much you like to cook, Alpine Flavours is a cookbook you can turn to every day. Many dishes do not require overly lengthy preparation time. But those who embrace slow travel and slow food will find it the most rewarding.
For us, we simply pick one recipe per week to make. Still, even with this frequency, we have found so many favorites calling us back we’re still working our way through the book over a year later. Don’t be surprised if the same happens to you. Like mountain scenery, Alpine food tends to capture your heart and not let go.
As raving fans of South Tyrol, we cannot recommend enough embarking on an adventure in this mountainous jewel crowning northern Italy. Nothing will match the experience of savoring a mountain-to-table meal like sitting on the mountain where it was born.
Yet for those that cannot make a trip to South Tyrol, the cookbook makes the act of preparing a meal a joyful adventure all on its own. Every nature lover and foodie will find mountain recipes to delight in again and again. It’s an ideal gift for those drawn to rich, rugged heartiness.
The meat dishes we created from the book’s recipes have been just as savory as the main courses we’ve enjoyed at restaurants throughout South Tyrol. We were even able to replicate a knödel entree that was nearly as delicious as the treasure we devoured at one of Italy’s top mountain resorts.
Transforming your kitchen into a rifugio (mountain hut) on a whim has never been easier. Alpine Flavours takes you on a journey to new culinary heights all without setting foot on a mountain. Make no mistake though. If the mountain calls, go. Not even your appetite should get in the way of a breathtaking hike.