We might „only“ run a small three-star hotel with a few rooms, a restaurant and a bar; but we know that what we lack in size we make up for in hospitality, and the personal relationship with our guests. So naturally, the Concierge places great significance on his personal appearance – even holes in his socks are a no-go (even when his feet are hidden behind the front desk all day).
Grandma might knit great socks, the thick wool kind that keep your feet warm even in the coldest of winters at home or on the ski slope, but for the work behind a reception desk, they are unfortunately unsuitable.
So today the Concierge is off to buy socks. The Merano Lauben should have everything he needs. On a cold, gloomy day such as today, the city is packed – which makes navigating the narrow streets of Merano hard as the Concierge fights through the crowds. Eventually the right store is found and 10 pairs of socks are easily acquired. Nothing stands in the way of just returning home. A quick one today eh?
But at the end of the arcades, the cathedral church bells of St. Nicholas can be heard ringing through the streets. It’s twelve o’clock, maybe we should stay for lunch?
We decide on the inn “Wirtshaus zur Blauen Traube” (“Blue-Grape Inn''). A historical inn in Merano, a cultural and gastronomical heritage site.
We chose the inn in part because our butcher, Metzger Mair, used to supply the Blaue Traube with local beef.
Our lunch consists of two gnocchi variations, one with Hokkaido squash and cheese, and the other one with cheese fondue, cream spinach and Speck; followed by pike perch in broccoli foam, leek, capers, raisins and grapes; and a roasted venison shoulder with red cabbage and apple, potatoes and a juniper berry sauce.
For dessert we have a reinterpretation of Tarte Tatin, also known in Paris as Tarte du chef or Tarte des demoiselles Tatin, made from South Tyrolean apples. While in reality a typical french cake, it could also be a South Tyrolean invention, as its ingredients come in abundance in South Tyrol.
The young but experienced and well traveled chef Christoph Huber responsible for this delicious lunch attended various culinary schools of haute cuisine and learned from many internationally renowned master chefs. In the dining room, young Franziska Mittelsteiner, called Franzi, is in charge: she is responsible for the wine in the Blaue Traube.
The meal was accompanied by a Pinot Blanc Muschelkalk from Abraham, Pinot Noir Gottardi and a Gewürztraminer Terminum.
Let us hope our socks don’t last too long, so we’ll get another chance to buy some more soon…
While South Tyrol is renowned for its wine, South Tyrolean beer should not be underestimated.
Yesterday, the Concierge was having a look at the dining room and observed that on this particular evening, the most common beverage to accompany Tyrolean specialties was not wine, but beer. Thus, at the end of the evening the Concierge noticed that the remaining beer levels in storage were dangerously low. Too low, in fact, to continue serving beer throughout the next evening, should his guests again favor beer over wine.
So, early next morning, the Concierge contacted one of his most trusted suppliers, but: „Unfortunately, we can't deliver until Wednesday morning!"
A backup plan was needed. Of course, the Concierge would be quite a lousy concierge if he gave up after a single phone call, and especially if he didn‘t know where to get beer on an ordinary weekday. After all, if his guest wanted beer, beer they shall have!
On his quest the Concierge drives his van to Meran, and lo and behold, two kegs were acquired with ease.
And now, with his hunt completed and the sun setting high in the sky, hunger sets in. So, where to, for a fast and simple lunch? Asking his phone he reads the words „trucker lunch“, sure, that should do nicely. The route takes the Concierge towards Dorf Tirol and to an old and rusty cable car. He isn‘t supposed to get on this thing is he?
Thankfully he wasn‘t. The drive continues and at the end of the road he finds himself outside a restaurant with a breathtaking view of the whole valley below him.
„Trucker lunch“, he thinks. Let‘s see...
Lunch consists of
beef tartare, quail egg and mustard ice cream followed by char filled ravioli from the Passeier valley with slivers of almonds, and as main course a new interpretation of „Zwiebelrostbraten“ (fried beef and onions in gravy). For dessert, lime yogurt with marinated pineapple and a sorbet of South Tyrolean Pink Lady apples.
So much for „trucker lunch“...
Compliments to the colleagues from the Michelin starred Farmerkreuz restaurant, even if they don‘t quite play in the same league as the Concierge (but perhaps at least two leagues higher...)
For over 200 years the Gump Hof, which can be traced back in historical documents to the year 1546, has been owned by the Prackwieser family. In the mid-nineties Markus Prackwieser discovered his passion for wine and took over the old-established family business from his father Johann. An ongoing dialogue with fellow winemakers and excursions to leading wine growing regions are typical of the spirit of experimentation at the Gump Hof. A combination of knowledge acquired over generations, personal experience, time, patience and continuous attention to a distinctive prole results in wines that reflect the character of both the landscape and the wine-grower.
The vineyards of the Gump Hof, with their southwest exposition and 60 - 70 % inclination, are located on solid Bolzano quartz porphyry and o‑er ideal conditions for the varieties grown by Markus. Situated at 400 - 800 meters above sea level, the vineyards have two special features, namely calcareous morainic soils and diurnal variation in the winds. During the day, a Mediterranean climate is delivered by the Ora wind from Lake Garda, while downslope winds from the Dolomites cool the vines at night, resulting in particularly complex wines with a crisp freshness. No wonder that wine-growing is experiencing a remarkable renaissance here on the steep slopes of the southern Valle Isarco at the foot of the Sciliar massif.
Summer is in full swing. Heat and sultriness are the order of the day.
The concierge longs to cool down, and above all: a change of pace. A colleague advises him to try fishing, something the concierge has never done before. And the thought of being near a large body of water does sound somewhat refreshing.
So the concierge decides to spend the day at the Durnholzer Lake in Sarntal fishing.
With a fishing permit bought at a local restaurant and his equipment kindly provided to him by his colleague, we drive to the lake. A light, but refreshing breeze awaits us. With rod and tackle in hand, we set out to find the perfect spot for the concierge's first fishing experience.
The breeze picks up a bit and light rain sets in. Maybe it‘s better to take a break after all...
We take a break at the Fischerwirt, a well-known inn in the area. The concierge thinks about trying the grayling, a fish the Durnholzer lake and this establishment is known for. But the menu is filled with delicious sounding dishes, which makes the decision on what to order more difficult.
Finally we decide on tartar of veal and beef with homemade brioche and butter
Tomato gazpacho with peach
Potato mezzelune stuffed with veal breast
Ox fillet with chanterelles on mashed potatoes and Lagrein sauce
Accompanied with a glass of Kerner, an aromatic white wine.
The rain continues to increase. Too heavy to continue (or start...) fishing. So the concierge decides to go home, disappointed, without a catch.
The return trip was a bumpy ride. The summer thunderstorm becomes more violent and hail falls over Bolzano.
All in all, the concierge is nevertheless satisfied with the trip. From his point of view, the saying: „Life begins, when the fishing season does“ is something that perhaps should be reconsidered...
It‘s Tuesday and the Concierge decides to take us exploring. He leads us to Barbian, a village in the Isarco Valley, in which a tower stands that is similarly crooked, if not more so, than its more famous relative in Pisa.
We hike along a path that brings us past several waterfalls to Trechiese. The Ganderbach falls over several rock steps down into the valley and mist from the water fills the air with a cool and refreshing haze on this hot summer day.
After taking a relaxing break by the waterfalls, we continue our hike towards the Hotel Briol.
Far from traffic, surrounded by lush meadows and forests, the Hotel Briol in Barbian is located at an altitude of 1.310 meters above sea level and offers a view of the Val Gardena and the Dolomites.
For lunch we have Schlutzkrapfen and potato dumplings with butter from local cows and fresh sage. To round off the meal, we enjoy an assorted cheese platter with various chutneys.
Chatting with the owner, the Concierge finds himself asked where he‘s from and, of course, answers: Terlano. Terlano! The owner is familiar with the name, in fact, she knows the village very well! She tells us that 35 years ago she had her wedding dinner in Terlano, coincidentally, and to our big surprise, at the Hotel Sparerhof. Back then the Concierge‘s father was still the owner.
Satisfied after a delicious lunch, we leave the inn to continue on the path to Dreikirchen.
Dreikirchen („three churches") receives its name from the village churches. St. Gertraud, St. Nicholas and St. Magdalene. The oldest of the three, St. Gertraud was first mentioned in writing in 1237. Apart from the beautiful frescoes, the church's wooden shingle roof that connects the three churches into a single structure is especially impressive.
With tiredness slowly setting in, we start the descent towards Barbian and take a look at the Trostburg, where the famous wanderer and minnesinger Oswald von Wolkenstein lived.
What a beautyful day!!!
© Zischgg Stefi alias Mrs. Untermarzoner
From April to May, the Terlan Margarete asparagus is at the center of South Tyrolean culinary attention. Harvested in the fields around Terlan, Vilpian and Siebeneich, and prepared in local restaurants, the Margarete asparagus could not be grown any closer to the restaurants it is served in.
The Terlan asparagus hosts are true experts in preparing the Margarete asparagus. Founded in 1983, by 8 Terlan restaurants, local asparagus farmers and Terlan winery, Cantina Terlano, each spring, the Terlan asparagus hosts deliver culinary highlights centered around the versatile and delicious vegetable. This year‘s asparagus season ends on 16th May 2021.
The Terlan Margarete asparagus is traditionally served with the characteristic Bozner Sauce. Another South Tyrolean spring classic is fawn with asparagus and potato puree. Whether it is in risotto-, soup, pasta-, egg-, fish- or meat dishes, the Margarete asparagus and its typical intensive, nutty flavor is incredibly versatile. Accompanying the asparagus: wine from the Cantina Terlano, the so called „asparagus wine“, made from sauvignon blanc, is a light white wine with a flowery aroma that is bottled specifically for the asparagus season and harmonizes perfectly with Margarete asparagus.
For all those that prefer sweet over savory, asparagus even pairs well with strawberries.
Creativity knows no bounds in Terlan. Each asparagus host offers different specialties. This year five of them offer takeaway on their dishes, until restaurants will open again.
More information on the asparagus season, current events and recipes can be found under: www.terlaner-spargelzeit.it
© pict Marion Lafogler
A busy weekend lies in front of the Concierge. Finally, he is back in his element. In compliance with the safety rules for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic all the guests staying at the hotel this weekend are professional athletes or otherwise involved with the upcoming bike race in Nals.
All participants and accompanying personnel have to undergo regular tests.
The Concierge is keeping busy. Expensive bikes have to be safely stored and athletes need tending to, so that they may prepare for the upcoming race.
Mainly young cyclists are staying at the hotel but also some more experienced riders. The race itself is divided into various groups:
Women - rookies and juniors
Beginners 1 & 2
Cadets 1 & 2
Even while the athletes rest, the Concierge’s efforts continue. Vans loaded with mountain bikes are pulling into the parking lot. The van drivers are asking for a garden hose, which the Concierge of course provides. He wonders: will 50 meters suffice? And, what for exactly?
Quite boringly, the hose is used to clean the bikes. But the bikes are far from boring, professional mountain bikes, the Concierge couldn’t even guess how much one of these would go for… He watches with interest as they are washed, checked and adjusted. The parking lot is transformed into an improvised bicycle workshop. The bikes flashing clean in the sunlight. For now at least, mountain bikes don’t tend to stay clean for long.
Not only participants of the race stay at the hotel. On one hand the Concierge welcomes the teams with their athletes, mechanics, van drivers, a sports doctor and the athletes parents, and on the other hand a group of race technicians, commentators, journalists and photographers are staying the weekend.
A big thank you to Michele Mondini, who is not also one of the event’s photographers, but also the organizer behind the race.
Congratulations to the winners and all other participants of this year’s edition.
One of the winners spent the night here at the hotel. Of course, the Concierge asked for a picture.
© Michele Mondini