Did you know the Dolomites have the highest density of Michelin-starred chefs in Italy? Being an unrepentant foodie, sampling the delights was always on the cards. We had the pleasure of enjoying a five course tasting menu by executive chef Norbert Niederkofler at his three Michelin star Restaurant St. Hubertus.
Restaurants In The Dolomites
It’s a food fan’s dream come true to be at the sharp end of a haute cuisine restaurant. And this was no ordinary restaurant. I mean what is one to expect? A high end kitchen, a frenzy of activity, a screaming chef (Gordon Ramsey style)?
The answer: None of the above. There was a buzz of activity, not a frenzy and a distinct air of calm. Whilst we continued to gawp in awe at the skilful chefs meticulously at work, aperitifs were served.
We all were all beyond excited when Chef Norbert took time out from the kitchen and joined us for an in depth chat about his work.
He told us how he has been at Rosa Alpina for 20 years and began with a tiny pizzeria in the hotel which he has now built up to the world renowned restaurant it is today.
His project of ‘Cook the Mountains’ is an incredible achievement, where only locally sourced produce from the Dolomites is used in cuisine. His philosophy of simple local produce is more than evident when you taste the flavoursome dishes made up of a mere three or four ingredients.
Once we’d gobbled the aperitifs we were ushered to our seats in the main dining room. The elegant space holds twelve tables and reflects its natural alpine environment.
Fresh flowers, antlers and drawings of stags abound. Well, the restaurant is named after the Christian patron saint of hunters!
On each table we noticed a glass bell which holds a raw dough. The waiter soon arrives and before whipping it away lets us know that it’s a special sourdough unique to the restaurant with a 15 year old culture. It’s then taken to be baked for 20 minutes, before it’s bought back straight from the oven to be devoured. It’s a shame my camera didn’t capture the steam arising from deliciously hot loaf.
Our first course was dew on wild herbs salad from ‘Aspinger’ farm. The dew for this occasion was in the form of a slightly fragranced spray spritzed with a flourish by the waiter.
Course two was a ravioli stuffed with ricotta from El Brite farm with basil pesto, buttermilk and cheese crust. The smooth creamy ricotta was a dream to eat.
The next course by sight would not win any prizes in the looks department. However, this unassuming dish of risotto with mountain tomatoes water was a taste sensation. Never have I tasted such an intense tomato flavour in a dish. It was quite special from a plate that at first looked a tad bland. The pescatarians amongst me, Mr S and Mo were treated to a layer of white fish bottarga too. Caviar in other words!
Due to it’s inventiveness this plate was probably my favourite. Beetroot gnocchi with beer soil and daikon cream. The gnocchi had an almost gelatinous texture. The sweetness of the beetroot against the powerful horseradish, combined with the different textures of the beer crumb and smooth of the gnocchi was genius.
Now the vegetarian main was something of a low ebb for me. Vegetable tempura with a sweet sticky sauce. Don’t get me wrong the flavours were great, but tempura for me is more of a starter than the grand main.
Mr S faired much better with his Danube salmon and paradeiser, swimming in different varieties of mountain tomatoes.
And Mo did even better with her crispy local suckling pig with pig head sandwich and mustard from Venosta valley.
Then of course we had a pre dessert of ice-cream, fruit compote and toasted almonds.
Naturally there was only ever going to one dessert that ended this fantastic meal – Tarte tartin. Something I never realised before venturing to the region is South Tyrol is the largest apple growing region of Europe. Before serving us our own mini skillets of the most incredible tasting taste tartin the waiter flaunted the dish in its entirely before carving it up.
Finally before they rolled us out and up to our bedrooms we were presented with the magnificent petit fours – cotton candy, lollipops, jelly candy and chocolate cake pralines.
If you want to experience the best mountain cooking St. Hubertus is the place. It was a gastronomic delight and there’s something quite special knowing you are fine dining surrounded by the stunning mighty peaks of the Dolomites. And who knows maybe even you could leave the restaurant looking as stylish as me!
Do you have a favourite holiday restaurant? Let me know in the comments box below.
Restaurant St. Hubertus | Strada Micurà De Ru, 20 | San Cassiano in Badia BZ | Italy
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