MenStyleFashion spent 4 days in South Tyrol Italy as part of a press trip organised by South Tyrol Tourism. This trip took into account some of the best culinary highlights, amazing scenery, outdoor activities and luxurious accommodation of South Tyrol.
After arriving at Verona airport I was chauffeured to Rosa Alpina, a luxury hotel in San Cassiano, in the Alta Badia region and home to 2 Michelin starred St Hubertus restaurant. The trip took three hours but the road view is just breathtaking and I saw some amazing mountain scenery along the way. I was excited as I was about to experience my first 2 Michelin stared food experience later that night.
The higher end of Alta Badia valley, which is called the Ladin area of Italian South Tyrol, there is a cluster of haute cuisine that mixes the best of the South Tyrolean and Mediterranean food. This is the best restaurant in the area without a doubt. St Hubertus is where celebrity chef Norbert Niederkofler has applied his trade for the past 20 years. Chefs at this level are very influential amongst the luxury world and are the new lifestyle superstars.
In the interview, you will hear and see how it all began way back, as a pizzeria in 2006. Due to hard work and a sense of his own food philosophy, Norbert in 2016 has created a place of haute cuisine in where there is certain food you can only get from this specific region and that is why during his early days he received his first Michelin star in 2000 and his second Michelin star in 2007.
After arrival and the check-in at the Rosa Alpina Hotel, it was time to chill out in the Spa of the hotel. I knew later that day I was going to face a 14-course menu with lots of matching wines to accompany the dishes. To my surprise chef, Norbert Niederkofler was in the kitchen and what and to add to the experience I discovered that we had a table in the kitchen where I could see the maestro and his team in action. For food lovers, it cannot get any more inspiring and personal than this.
Norbert is an interesting character and clearly loves what he does. I was so excited that he took time to meet with the press and explained in detail his philosophy of working with natural ingredients and local products. He also explained his “Cook the Mountains” project which is close to how he works now and a concept he wants other mountain regions of the world to join.
20 Years at St Hubertus
To celebrate chef Norbert Niederkofler’s 20 years at St Hubertus he created an iconic dish for each year of his time spent here. This menu was only available for 20 days in the month of June. It was a rare opportunity and one I will treasure forever especially as it was the last day he would be serving from this menu. Although I did not have all 20 dishes, it was what I call taste buttons in overdrive. I have been travelling around the world for almost 25 years and I have tasted food some very unique foods. So I was keen to understand food at a whole different level. What makes a two Michelin star chef so different from a one Michelin star chef? What is it about food at this luxury level that makes me want to return over and over? How do you approach such a person at this level? Is he nice, or will he be screaming the kitchen down? How will he behave when things go wrong? What is the food protocol let alone the dress code when entering such a unique kitchen? We are after all in Italy, where fashion. lifestyle and food go hand in hand.
Norbert in his own words explains his 20 years at St Hubertus menu like this.
“Reading through old menus and tasting again products which I haven’t used for many years, it reminded me of faces, laughter, stories. I would love to share with you these emotions serving a unique menu composed of 20 iconic dishes, each course representing a year.” – Norbert Niederkofler
The foie gras Crème brûlée was a very odd combination as you normally associate Crème brûlée with desserts. However this combination worked perfectly and was for me the surprise of the menu.
Finally, it was time for the desserts after all those great dishes, I knew I was getting closer to the finish of this great menu.
With South Tyrol being the largest apple-growing region of Europe, there had to be a dish with apple in it. Yes, this is apple done in 4 different ways, we have sorbet, mouse, puree and fried apple. This dish is a homage to the apple.
The petit fours were served on a massive deer antler, it reminded you again of the mountain region this restaurant was based at.
Kitchen in Action
When I think of Michelin starred celebrity chefs in action I always see the first television show of Gordon Ramsey in his kitchen and how stressful it was and how much swearing was involved. Eating in the kitchen here at St Hubertus was a calm experience. Norbert would shout out the order and from the cooking area responsible for the dish they would shout back the acknowledgement. That was all that was heard in the kitchen, it was a calm and very professional experience. Norbert was so relaxed that whilst filming him in action he was still cracking jokes.
Eating at St Hubertus was the start of a 4-day experience in South Tyrol, Italy an area I had not visited before. This mainly German-speaking part of Italy with amazing mountain ranges has its own particular cuisine. The area of South Tyrol has the highest concentration of fine dining in Italy with 14 one Michelin star restaurants and 5 two Michelin star restaurants. St Hubertus is the restaurant to try if you want to experience mountain cooking to its best. This restaurant gets busy in summer and winter, my suggestion to foodies is to eat here now before the third star comes, it is only a matter of time.
- Website: www.rosalpina.it/italy-michelin-star-restaurants.htm
- Address: Strada Micurà De Ru, 20, San Cassiano in Badia BZ, Italy
- Phone: +39 0471 849500
This article was part of a trip to South Tyrol in Italy. The trip was sponsored by South Tyrol Tourism. For more information about South Tyrol, Italy visit www.suedtirol.info.