For me, one of the great things about skiing is that you feel entirely justified in eating your body weight in mountain fare. After all that exercise, a few kilogrammes of cheese surely can’t hurt your waistline? But, even for me, a diet of raclette, tartiflette and rosti can get a little…um…repetitive? This issue is not one that should ever concern you in Alta Badia. Alta Badia is in the Italian Dolomites and as well as the stunning scenery (the Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage site), the ski area boasts more than its fair share of amazing restaurants and Michelin starred chefs. I joined their Gourmet Ski Safari day last December for a taste of skiing Alta Badia-style.
The concept is simple: several of the local celebrated chefs create a single dish which they serve from participating mountain restaurants. This season’s theme ‘Childhood Flavours‘ saw chefs recreating dishes inspired by their parents and grandparents.
A €50 ticket (which you can buy in the first mountain hut you visit) gives you vouchers for four dishes each served with a matched glass of South Tyrol wine. On the day we went, there were seven mountain restaurants participating so the hardest thing was deciding which four to visit.
The whole day feels like a local holiday. Because it was the start of the season, it was the first day on the snow for many locals (and the snow was epic). There was much kissing and catching up and we felt like we were part of one big family.
And there were additional celebrations this season as two of the chefs had just been awarded further Michelin stars. Norbert Niederkofler (St. Hubertus restaurant, Rosa Alpina Hotel) was awarded a third Michelin star. And Matteo Metullio (La Siriola restaurant, Ciasa Salares Hotel) received his second star.
Matteo was therefore an obvious choice for our first stop; the youngest Italian chef to receive a Michelin star (aged 24) and now the youngest (28) to receive two, he was also celebrating the imminent arrival of his first child.
Matteo’s dish was Trippa in sugo con patate which sounds a lot more elegant than tripe in sauce with potatoes. The dish itself was a thing of beauty and so tasty our guide ate three portions (exercising his privilege as a friend of the family). In the spirit of the overall theme, Matteo’s mum was also helping out and no doubt still giving him advice on the right way to do things.
Next stop at a very busy Ultia de Bioch, we had melt-in-the-mouth Guancetta di vitello in salsa di gremolata, radice di prezzemolo e gerostel di prugne (veal cheek with gremolata sauce, parseley root, roasted prunes ) from Nicola Laera. Unbelievably tender and delicious. This was my personal favourite.
A slightly lighter course next at Ultia I Tabla: Passatelli in brodo (breadcrumb noodles in broth) from Alberto Faccani. It was pretty chilly at this point and the nourishing soup was delicious.
Finally, at Club Moritzino we experienced the dish that was simply called C’era una volta una trota (Once upon a time there was a trout). This dish of raw trout and trout roe was exquisitely put together under the watchful eye of its creator, Norbert Niederkofler.
Skiing has a reputation of being an expensive pursuit, but this event offers you four amazing dishes each expertly paired with local wines for less than you’d pay for a round of drinks in many resorts. If you’re thinking about an early season ski trip for 2018/9, this is definitely one to try. I for one will be queuing up for my ticket. If you can’t wait till the next Ski Safari, all the dishes created for ‘A Taste for Skiing’ are available throughout the season, individually from just €15 per dish, including a matched glass of wine.
Note from Kate: you might also enjoy reading about skiing with a sommelier in Alta Badia.
Gourmet Ski Safari
A ticket for the one-day Gourmet Ski Safari ticket in December 2017 cost €50pp, to include four Michelin chef dishes chosen from the seven participating huts, each served with a glass of South Tyrol wine. Throughout the rest of the season, all the dishes created by the 13 Michelin starred chefs for ‘A Taste for Skiing’ are available individually from just €15 per dish, including a matched glass of wine.
Alta Badia is a two-hour drive from Venice (BA or EasyJet from £26 return) or Innsbruck (EasyJet from £68 return). Travel to resort via taxi or car hire.
Kate stayed at La Majun. Prices start from €132 per person, per night, based on two sharing on a half board basis. Powder Byrne offer a ski weekend in Alta Badia from 7th to 11th March from £1,839 per person staying in a Junior Suite at Hotel La Majun including return flights, luxury transfers, Powder Byrne Concierge service and four nights’ accommodation on a half board basis. Visit powderbyrne.com or call 0208 246 5300.
Ski passes cost from €43 per day