This Northern region has been the meeting ground for various gastronomic traditions: Austrian, German, Slavic, and Hungarian, as well as Italian. In this magical northern paradise of Italy, the wonderful result is a powerful, hearty cuisine that is uniquely delicious. This cuisine uses its ingredients, spices, condiments, in uncommon combinations compared to the rest of Italy-sugar finds its way into meat and vegetable dishes, heavy soups substitute for pasta, and rice is eaten not as a main course, but rather as a side dish with meat and poultry. Meat, especially pork, is mostly smoked, and speck is a delicious, smoked cured meat that appears on most tables as an antipasto or folded into batter for dumplings and sauces.
This region is known for its outstanding breads of multiple shapes, made of every flour imaginable-there are large black breads, square rye loaves, crisp wafers, delicate flatbreads, and the local bread figurines called seelenstucke.
Among signature first courses are bread dumplings called canederli in Italian and knodel in German; some are made with liver (leberknodel, typically served in soup), others with speck or pancetta, butter, and aromatics.
Soups are prevalent: one includes barley, another is made with white and yellow cornmeal cooked in milk (called mus, mosa, or trisa) and served with melted butter and poppy seeds, another is a combination of wine, broth, eggs, cream, and cinnamon.
Strangolapreti (priest stranglers) are a traditional pasta, as are bigoi con le sardele, tagliatelle smalzade, and gnocchi made with spinach.
Smacafam is typical of Trento: polenta baked with sausages and lard, sometimes using buckwheat flour; a sweet version exists that folds in pine nuts, aniseed, and raisins.
Speck, a cured ham of great renown, is eaten as an antipasto with rustic whole-grain breads; less famous is a cured beef called rindsgeselchtes. Other specialties include rindsgulasch, a variation on the Hungarian gulasch, and sauerbraten, roast beef slowly cooked with vinegar and onions.
Desserts show an Austro-Hungarian influence, like the strudels stuffed with dried fruit, cheese, and apples; zelten is a Christmas specialty.
Trentino-Alto Adige produces a vast number of superb wines, including Trentino Bianco, Chardonnay, Moscato Giallo, Moscato Rosa, Müller, Nosiola, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Rieling Italico, Riesling Renano, Sauvignon, Traminer Aromatico, Trentino Rosso, Cabernets, Lagrein, Marzemino, Merlot, Pinot Nero, and Vin Santo.
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