Markus Hauser recently introduced me to one of his great foodie friends, Austrian broadcaster, Hartwig Mumelter, pictured above, which gave me a great opportunity to pick his brains on what he deems to be the culinary hotspots of Europe.
On asking him this question he replied that despite the fact that where he comes from, Alto Adige, they have the highest number of Michelin star restaurants (23), his preference are those areas that stick to the old traditional recipes and focus on quality of ingredients.
To illustrate this he launched into a wonderful description of using ‘red cow’ parmiggiano which will turn an ordinary risotto into a dish fit for royalty (or a discerning palate!). As Hartwig explained, dishes that have evolved from ‘making do’ are the tastiest. There is an Italian expression that bests describes this – la cucina povera e la piu ricca (which loosely translates as poor cooking is the richest).
He cites the famous Swiss pizzocheri which I was talking about a few weeks ago. A peasant dish which is spectacular when made with fresh, local ingredients.
The other Swiss dish he loves is the simple rosti which I have to agree with. It consists mainly of potatoes with some green vegetable and egg to bind it. It used to be a hearty Swiss breakfast dish and has evolved to a posh accompaniment.
According to him the Swiss have cheese on their side, or, more to the point, they give their cows huge stretches of glossy green grass to graze on and as a consequence, they have cheeses that lift any dish to a whole new level. This led us to ponder cheese fondue which is glorious in its simplicity and, let’s face it, puts cheese centre stage!