I visited the area of Alta Badia, South Tyrol, Italy last summer as part of a luxury week South Tyrol. I experienced amazing mountain scenery combined with excellent food and top hotels. I was so impressed with it all I had to come back to experience this area again in winter. The perfect time to visit was the annual Gourmet Skisafari event which was held on Sunday 11 December. This was already the fifth edition of this event which was called the TOP OF THE MOUNTAINS event to celebrate top quality mountain cuisine.

MenStyle was invited as press to cover this Haute Cuisine event on the slopes of Alta Badia. We arrived the night before the Gourmet Skisafari in style thanks to the Volvo XC-90 and we stayed at the Rosa Alpina hotel in San Cassiano. This hotel is home to the two Michelin starred restaurant St Hubertus where Norbert Niederkofler is the head chef.

The picturesque village of San Cassiano in Alta Badia.

From the hotel I was escorted to a welcome dinner called “Table Hopping”. Here I had to chance to meet the two local chefs that were participating in the Gourmet Skisafari. The two local chefs were from the hotels Ciasa Salares where Matteo Metullio is chef and Relais and Chateaux Hotel Rosa Alpina with chef Norbert Niederkofler. I had tasted Norbert’s cuisine last summer and this time I was also tasting food from Matteo who used to work for Norbert. Matteo had an excellent teacher as he managed to get his first Michelin star at the young age of 24. I was very impressed by both of them, this has to be some of the best mountain food out there.

Matteo in action

5th Edition Gourmet Skisafari

It was early in the ski season and Alta Badia had done an amazing job with all the snow machines as it was very green. There was enough snow on all the pistes to ski almost the whole area. My day started with breakfast at the Piz Boe Alpine lounge which has some of the most breathtaking views of the Dolomites. After breakfast I was so keen to explore the slopes that I painfully crashed within 5 meters.

View from the Piz Boe Alpine Lounge

This was the 5th edition of the Gourmet Skisafari, for €50 participants can taste five different dishes created by five different Michelin starred gourmet chefs. Best of all is that there is also a glass of matching wine with each dish. The participating mountain huts were not to far from each other giving me in theory enough time to ski from on to the other.

Thank god for snow machines…

Team MSF in action

First Chef – Norbert Niederkofler

My first stop was at the Utia de Bioch mountain hut where I tasted the Tortellini NORA which was filled with braised veal cheek and ancient vegetables served in bouillon. This was teamed with a wine called Alto Adige Pinot Bianco Eichhorn 2015, Sudtirol Weissburgunder.

Norbert Niederkofler and his staff.

Second Chef – Esat Akyildiz

The second food stop was at the Utia I Tabla where chef Esat Akyildiz from The Ritz Carlton Almaty (Kazakstan) was preparing the dishes. I ate Kespe Sorpa which was fresh noodles with aromatic bouillon. This was teamed with a wine called Alto Adige Pinot Bianco DeSilva 2015, Sudtirol Weissburgunder.

Third Chef – Matteo Metullio

Getting slightly tired I headed for my third food break at Club Moritzino with young Chef Matteo Metullio from La Siriola. I tasted sweetbread of fried veal on scampi mixture, smoked Jerusalem artichoke froth and liquorice and aniseed salsa. The wine was the Alto Adige Sauvignon or also know as Sudtirol Sauvignon.

Fourth Chef – Thosten Probost

It took a while for me to find the Piz Arlara mountain hut but I got there in the end. It was windy and I was greeted in a cosy shelter by Chef Thosten Probost from Griggeler Stuba in Lech-Zurs (Austria). I had Tartare dell Alta Badia and this was teamed with a glass of Alto Adige Pinot Nero Riserva Burgum Novum 2013, Sudtirol Blauburgunder. There was a great atmosphere here with some locals playing the accordion, lets enjoy that second and third glass of wine.

Fifth Chef – Nicola Laera

The long search for the Piz Arlara mountain hut and the alcohol began to take its toll, I arrived too late at the Utia Col Alt mountain hut to taste the roast Bleggio rabbit from chef Nicola Laera from la Stua de Michil. For compensation I was given some extra wine, the Alto Adige Pinot Grigio.

This was an unforgettable experience, I was thoroughly impressed with the whole day. Skiing and eating tapas sized haute cuisine in between, is a unique concept that anyone should try. Again I was amazed by Alta Badia for the standard of luxury and stunning scenery that this area provides.

A Taste For Skiing

For those that come to Alta Badia after the Gourmet Skisafari there is still every chance to taste these five dishes. These five dishes will be served together with nine more, to create fourteen in total served at fourteen different mountain huts. This is all part of the “Taste For Skiing” initiative which lasts till the end of the skiing season, Sunday 2 April 2017. 14 Michelin starred chefs will be assigned to one hut on the slopes of Alta Badia. Each will create a dish for the hut, which will be served to skiers throughout the entirety of the winter season. This initiative aims at creating a symbolic link between various ski resorts, joining together cultures, ingredients and unique flavours.

Utia Bamby – One of the mountain huts participating in the “Taste For Skiing”

After tasting the dishes of the Gourmet Skisafari I know that the “Taste For Skiing” will be just as good. The Alta Badia region has something similar for the summer months, you can read all about those food experiences here.