This is the new GardaConcierge guide which helps our readers experience the taste of the mountains! Our editorial staff presents dishes from the mountains in the Lake Garda area: from gnocchi di Malga to venison with mushrooms, from Tyrolese dumplings to chestnut cake, these are all the specialities to eat on the mountain – and in the valley!
The first of the dishes we present is from the Trentino: Tyrolese dumplings or canederli. This speciality from the rustic cuisine of Trento and Bolzano is based on the habit of not throwing away any food and using even stale bread in the kitchen. This is what canederli are: delicious bread dumplings filled with pancetta and cheese (other key foods from the traditional Trentino cusine). After cooking, they are served in broth. The dish is so common that there are several varieties, including spinach, streaky pancetta and seasonal herbs, but also sweet variants with cinnamon and cloves. Dumplings are a nourishing and savoury dish, served in different forms in various central European countries, in Southern and Eastern Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.
Risotto with Mushrooms from Monte Baldo
Monte Baldo looms over Lake Garda. The 2219 metre mountain is located in an area between the provinces of Trento and Verona and the regions of Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto. Monte Baldo boasts a special climate and an extraordinary vegetation due to its location and height. Because of its beauty, it is known as “Garden of Europe”. Mushroom hunting, which requires a special permit, is very fruitful in this area. Mountain mushrooms are the main ingredient for this dish, which brings together two local traditions, the mushrooms and Veronese risotto. The dish brings the taste of the mountains to the table and is a welcome excuse for an excursion to Monte Baldo to go mushroom picking.
Gnocchi di Malga and Monte Veronese
The untouched Lessinia region is home to this traditional Veronese dish: Gnocchi di malga. Malga refers to the stone and wooden alpine cabins of the meadows in the Lessina region: once gnocchi were made here during the grazing period. The dish consists of simple ingredients, but is still a substantial and appetising meal. The Gnocchi di malga are called “Gnocchi sbatui” in dialect, because the receipe entails about by vigorous stirring (Italian “sbattere”). The gnocchi are great with melted butter and Monte Veronese, a cheese only produced in the Lessinia region.
Tagliatelle with Black Truffle from the Lessinia Region
Black truffle is another product from the Lessinia region that is available in the Verona area. It can be found in Boscochiesanuova, Erbezzo, Roverè and Velo Veronese, among others. These mushrooms, with a smooth, rough surface, grow to a depth of 60 cm. When cut open, their pulp has a marbled appearance. “Tuber Melanosporum” is the scientific name for the mushroom, which is common in the Lessinia region and used for this dish. The first dish with truffle from the Lessinia region that we present is with tagliatelle, a pasta typical of Central and Northern Italy.
Pappardelle with Venison Ragout
It is easy to come across deer on the luxuriant slopes of Monte Baldo. This animal occupies a prominent position in the traditional regional cuisine. Venison ragout is usually cooked in the “red variant” of the recipe, namely with tomato sauce. The result is a spicy and flavoursome sauce that goes well with pappardelle, an egg pasta that is larger than the related tagliatelle and makes this dish delicious and succulent.
Venison Stew with Mushrooms
This dish is hearty and delicious at the same time and goes well with polenta, another product from the mountains at Lake Garda. But let us talk about the most important ingredient of this dish: venison, another ingredient from Monte Baldo and the Lessinia region. As with every other game, the meat needs to be well marinated and slowly boiled. The result is well worth the effort! Venison is best enjoyed as a pot roast and enhanced by mushrooms as a side dish, making this dish a real taste experience!
Carne Salada (Salted Meat)
Carne salada is a typical dish of the province of Trento obtained by removing sinews and fat from the tongue of a young ox. The name of this cold meat derives from its treatment: a selected piece of meat is sprinkled with curing salt and then stored in a dark place for two to five weeks. Once used primarily as boiling meat, carne salada is today cut and sautéed in the pan, but also served as carpaccio or steak tartare.
Polenta and Luganega Sausage
As is commonly known, polenta is one of the most popular traditional dishes in the Central and Northern Italian cuisine. The pairing with cheese is typical of the three regions on Lake Garda: Veneto, Trentino and Lombardy. The Luganega sausage consists of minced pork and fat in a sausage casing. The length of the Lugana varies, but the sausage’s thickness stays the same. The Luganega is fried until golden brown and served as a pot roast with peas and other sauces. The dish can be prepared in different ways, depending on how the chef combines these two important ingredients from the mountains.
Unchallenged queen of Veronese cuisine, the Soppressa is more than a flavoursome and soft pork sausage, it is an unparalleled experience! First, precious pork cuts from local breeds are chosen for the cooking. Then, the meat is minced and seasoned with cinnamon and cloves, along with other spices, to add a special flavour to the soppressa. The meat is then bound by a string and stored for a period of at least three weeks and up to three months. The Soppressa sausage goes well with polenta and mushrooms, but also bread for a simple and tasty snack.
Chestnut Cake with Chestnuts from Monte Baldo
Let’s get one thing straight: a sweet chestnut is not a normal chestnut! Its shell is thinner and easier to remove, it is longer, more oval and has sweeter pulp. The growing of chestnuts has a long tradition on the slopes of Monte Baldo, and the sweet chestnut was one of the most important foods of the Venetian cuisine for a long time. Chestnut cake has been a popular cake in Central and Northern Italy for a while. We present a variant inspired by the mountains, with caramelised sweet chestnut: the perfect cake to welcome autumn! San Zeno di Montagna celebrates the chestnut festival in October of every year. Visitors can try tasty recipes with sweet chestnuts during the event, which is a must.
Our excursion to the cuisine of Lake Garda and the surrounding mountains ends with a product that takes us back to the Lessinia region: honey. For a long time, this traditional product was the only one with a high sugar content. There are different types of honey with well-documented properties in the Verona area, ranging from acacia honey to dandelion and linden honey and to honey from mixed blossom. Two events are dedicated to honey: At the end of August, Boscochiesanuova in the Lessinia region hosts the apiculture festival, and at the end of October, the apiculture and agricultural fair “Honey Days” is held at the lakeside of Lazise.