TYPICAL DISHES OF LAKE GARDA
The different gastronomic traditions of the three regions (Trentino, Venento and Lombardia) on Lake Garda, influence all kinds of dishes with their delicate tastes and the originality of the products. These meals are typical and original for fishermen and farmers, who lived in the “Gardesana” territory. The following informations will help you to find and taste the most famous and traditional dishes on Lake Garda, and too- when you want- you can find an easy mode of preparation and copy these meals in your own kitchen.
Fish, always caught in great quantity, since 10 years are returned like “number 1” in all restaurants of Lake Garda. Very diffused is “coregone lavarello“, a salmon trout with white or pink meat, with only a few fish-bones, prepared by barbecue. In the same manner you can prepare “sardène” (alose) and trout (farmtrout), fished in big quantity at the beginning of the summertime. During the last years the fishermen caught also “Carpioni“, also named “the trout of Lake Garda”, with a delicate white or rosy meat, famous since the medieval time. Some restaurants are able to prepare this special dish, when you have found one, you have to taste it. There is also “Trota lacustre“, the blue trout, one time deceased but nowadays born again. This fish has more than 1 kg, to taste in a little group in an restaurant. In the nets of the fishermen you can also find pikes, carps , fish “persico” and the little silver fishes, called “Alborelle” (in the last years very rare to find) all protagonists of Lake Garda. The dish “luccio in salsa” is a real typical meal of Verona and Mantova. The fish will be boiled and then dressed with a sauce of little pieces of salt alborellas and olive oil “extravergine” of Lake Garda. The dish is accompanied by “polenta” maize. With “alborelle in salamoia“, named also “aole salè”, people of the lake dressed their noodles, called “Bigoli“. This is one of the most famous meals “bigoli con the aole” and you can taste it in special restaurants. Another typical dish is “Risotto con la tinca“, made in various manners, but the original ingredients are vegetables and Parmesan cheese. The fillets of Persico – fish, also to find in other alpine lakes, are cooked, when 10 years ago apparished the “Real Persico”. The restaurants prepare this fish in butter and sage, or “alla mugnaia”, with butter, and white wine. The restaurants of Lake Garda have mixed the typical dishes with recipes of other regions. That was the “Birth” of the fish soup “zuppa di pesce di lago“. They said: Come and taste it and it will be the just the reason of your holidays!
On the contrary of fish specialities, which are very similar in all towns and regions of Lake Garda, the cooking of meat is much influenced by the singular territories. Beef wasn’t very often eaten in fisher and farmer families, till the middle of the 19th. century. Pork and fowl breeding were found in the towns, but also this meat was cooked only on festivities. Not at all we will propose you some special and traditional meat dishes of these regions round the lake. In the Veronese region the most famous festive meat was “il lesso con la pearà” (cotechino, lingua, testina, polpa di manzo) = that means boiled beef, beef tongue, pieces of beef-head, beef-sausages), the sauce consists of bone marrow, nowadays butter, grated bread, pepper and broth. “Mortadèle” of the Sarca region, in Trentino, are big fat sausages, often cooked with sauerkraut. In Varone di Riva, on every first Sunday of the religion Quaresima, the made a feast, where you can eat mortadèla with maize. On the other side the Bresicana region, in autumn the prepare the meat on a spit. The pieces of meat are: pork, fowl, rabbit, game, picked up on a pit, and between the meat they put a piece of lards and sage. The cooking must be very slowly, about 4-5 hours over a “bed of glowing coals”, continuously painted by olive oil of Lake Garda. So they have too, a delicious sauce. Also a very traditional dish of the Veronese and the Trentino region is “polenta e baccalà” (maize and dries salted cod), a very popular meal, just for a long time. “Bacalà” will be prepared con onions and tomato and it was and it is a real feast, when hard work was done: for example “la trebbiatura” = after a vintage (also named garzàiga or galzèga) or when a house is fabricated, or when the fishermen have their annual meeting, called “Antichi Originari” in Garda or Torri del Benaco. Some dishes are really antique and traditional. Here we have “strangolarpreti”, an original dish of the Trentino region (the legend tells about this meal at the “Concilio di Trento”). Strangolarpreti are little balls of cooked spinach, grated cheese, eggs and bread drunken in milk. They are dressed with grated cheese and hot butter. “Canederli” in broth are the grandnephews of “gnocchi” and “tortelli” (15th.centur ). They are typical dishes of Alto Adige Region and they are prepared with grated bread, bacon, speck, eggs, milk, flour and chives. By hand you form little balls, which are boiled in hot water, and they will be eaten with broth or dressed with hot butter and grated cheese. At the side of the lower lake, nearby the Mantova region and the North-West side of the Veronese region there are well known all kinds of “tortellini”. Here we’ll give you some tips:
Tortellini di Valeggio, imported from the Emilia region in the 19th. century. The dough is very thin and they are in broth. Sometimes you can find a dish of tortellini di Valeggio with hot butter and grated cheese.
Tortelli di zucca, always the same thin dough, filled with pumpkin, nutmeg, eggs and gated parmigano cheese, they are dressed with hot butter and grated parmigano cheese. Capunsei, at least, they are typical balls of the Mantovano region, made by grated bread and heated in hot butter, then unit broth till you have a good dough. Then they are boiled in hot water and dressed by hot butter, sage and grated parmigano cheese.
Typical sweet of the Veronese Region are the eastern “brasadèla” and “nadalìn” of Christmas Time. Then we have “sossole” of carnival and little “sanvigilini“, which are made of flour, eggs, butter yeast and raisins. This typical sweets you can find by the bakery, not often they will be proposed in restaurants. The apples of the Trentino region are the most famous apples of Italy. With these fruits they prepare the well known “strudel“, a sweet diffused in the whole Alp region. This sweet will be made by pieces of apple, pines and raisins, filled in a dough of flour, butter, milk and water. Another typical sweet is “zelten” of the Trentino region, this is very heavy caloric bomb, made by dried figs, nuts, pines, dried fruit, butter, flour and almonds. “Sbrisolona” is a short pastry mixed with pieces of almonds and its name come from the quality of the pastry. Before eating it must be broken in pieces (you do it here usually with a blow of a fist), you taste with a cup of coffee and a glass of grappa. Some drops put on sbrisolona before eating gives a wonderful taste. Also typical for the zone of Villafranca – Verona are “sfogliatine“, soft sweets made of flour, sugar, butter and eggs.
On the mountains and on the hills of Lake Garda you can ever find a lot of mountainous cow -herds and sheep- flocks. With the milk the mountaineers product various kinds of cheese. ” Monte Veronese” is a rich cheese and it has to season for some years. In the valley “Val di Ledro” they product “Formaggette“, which you can buy in typical little cheese-factories. On the Bresciana mountains goat-milk is used for producing little cheeses, fragranced by pepper, herbs and spices. These little cheeses can be eaten, when they are fresh and when they are seasoned or also, when they put in a glass full of oil and laurel.
The best “Olio Extravergine d’oliva” of Lake Garda is cold-pressed, and the harvest of the olives is work done by hand. This work is indispensable of getting the best quality, because in this manner, we are sure that the olives are fresh, when they are taken from the trees. The olives are transported to the “frantoio” (olive press), where they are presses by grinders. Out of the press come a mixture of oil and water, they have a different specific weight, therefore after a while the two ingredients divided themselves and the oil, which has a lower weight could be taken by a wooden spoon. Nowadays a spin-dryer divide the oil from the water. Just in some “frantoios” you can find more technical installation for having the product in shorter times, but the people at Lake Garda prefer work done by hand and they have a real natural olive oil-product. That is why the olive oil here is named “extravergine“, with a low acid.
After the Second World War vine-grow became a great development on all the hills and mountains, which surround Lake Garda. Here they produce young wine, to be consumed usually in a period of two years after the grape harvest.
– Bardolino classico, produced by grapes of Corvina, Molinara, Rondinella and Negrara. The alcohol degrees are about 10.5-12%. This wine is suited for “white meat” and all kinds of soups, also for some fish, for example “zuppa di pesce di lago” and fried alborelle and alose. Aged for one year this wine becomes the name “superiore”. It will be served by room temperature.
– Bardolino chiaretto, produced by grapes of Bardolino classico, but the grapes have a pale colour. The wine is suited for fish and meat. The alcohol degrees are about 10-12%. It will be served by a temperature of 8-10°C.
– Bardolino novello is produced by the grapes of Bardolino classico, but the wine is very young. Every 6th. of November there is a great festival at Bardolino, where you can taste the new wine “vino novello”.
– The Veronese Bianco di Custoza has alcohol degrees of about 11-12%. It will be served by a temperature of 8-10°C. and is suited for all kinds of fish.
– Nosiola is a white wine from the valley “Val del Sarca”. It is the best wine for aperitif and it is suited for all kinds of fish. Its alcohol degrees are about 10.5-12% and it will be served by a temperature of 8-10°C.
– Vino Santo is a product of Nosiola grapes, but the gape remains much longer at the vine till they become raisins. The vine grow in Toblino, Dro and Calavino. This wine must age for four years. This is a wine with a high alcohol degree and is suited for all kinds of dessert.
– Garda Bresciano Rosso comes from the vineyards of Groppello, Marzemino, Sangiovese and Barbera. Its alcohol degrees are 12% and it will be served by a temperature of 16-17°C. It is suited for game, roast, barebecue. Aged for 1 year this wine becomes the title “superiore”.
– Garda Bresciano Bianco is made by Riesling grapes. It is pale coloured and has a perfume like blossoms. Its alcohol degrees are about 11-12%. It is suited for all kinds of fish, risottos and vegetables. The wine will be served by a temperature of 18°C.
– Garda Bresciano Novello is produced by the same grapes of Garda Bresciano Rosso, but this is a very young wine. It is suited for meat, cheese, sausages and very good for roast chestnuts. It will be served by a temperature of 16-18°C.
– Garda Bresciano Spumante Rosè is produced by pale grapes. It has a natural fermentation and therefore the vine becomes Spumante brut or extra brut. It’s the best aperitif and will be served by a temperature of a about 6-7°C.
– Lugana is white wine, produced in the vineyards of Peschiera, Desenzano, Sirmione, Pozzolengo and Lonato. Its alcohol degrees are 11-12% and will be served by a temperature of 10°C. The wine is suited for all kinds of fish. When this wine is aged, it becomes spumante, named “Charmat”. It is a very good aperitif and must be served by a temperature of 6-7°C.
TYPICAL PRODUCTS OF LAKE GARDA
White asparagus from Rivoli Veronese
These delicious vegetables are growing in Rivoli Veronese, in the background of Lake Garda, famous for the glorious battles by Napoleon Bonaparte. If you want to taste it, you have to look up some typical inn in this zone or visit one of the asparagus-farms, buying these wonderful vegetables directly by the producers. Usually the restaurants offer boiled asparagus, pickled in oil and vinegar, with boiled eggs, or very delicious is a Risotto of asparagus .
Chestnuts from San Zeno di Montagna
More than 350 hectares of chestnut- woods are growing on the landscapes of San Zeno di Montagna and Brenzone. Not long ago they founded the first cooperative, where chestnuts are selected and traded with the following mark of quality: the real chestnut from San Zeno di Montagna! You can find special products like chestnut-jam or the famous “marron glacèe”. A traditional recipe: chestnut-soup.
Thanks to plenty of flowers, plants and trees and thanks to busy bees, on Lake Garda much honey can be produced. Many bee-keepers set the little bee-houses up in the mountains “Monte Baldo”, better known as “The garden of Europe”. There is for example “Miele d’acacia”, a bright coloured, delicate honey, or “Millefiori”, a honey with a taste of thousands of flowers, at least “Chestnut-honey” with its dark colour and its herb taste, in local inns often served with cheese. Honey, you know, is good for sore throat, a spoonful of honey in hot milk is a precious medicine against insomnia. Our grandfathers add some grappa to this honey-milk.
During springtime peach-trees are blooming, with wonderful rosy blossoms. The fruit has a yellow or a white pulp and is growing on the landscapes of Pescantina (Pesca = peach), in Sona, Sommacampagna and in Valeggio. Many restaurants offer the delicious fruit like dessert.
Not everybody knows, that you can find some truffles in the earth of Monte Baldo – Mountains. There are exquisite, especially the black truffle with its Latin name “tuber aestium”, Gardesana people like to call it “Scorzone”. With a little bit of luck you can uproot the rare black truffle “Melanosporum”. The “Gardesana truffle” is well-known, just in the 16th. century, Bartolomeo Stefano, cook of the noble Gonzaga-Family, appreciated that treasure. They use to grate it over “Risottos” or self-made noodles. In the territory of Valtenisi you can find the white truffle “Tuber Magnatum” or better known as “Tartufo Bianco di Alba”, it is as precious as Melanosporum.
Tortellinis of Valeggio
One of the best products from Veronese Region of Lake Garda are these famous “Tortellinis” of Valeggio sul Mincio. There are some legends about these hand- made noodles, let us listen to one : Once upon a time there was a poor, worn-out soldier, who was so tired, that he fell into the Mincio-River and died. The only thing they could find, was a silky handkerchief with a knot, a last remember for his lover-girl Silvia. So the women in those days began to prepare a dough, transparent like silk, with the same knot they had seen in the handkerchief, “Tortellinis were born”!
Broccolis from Torbole
These cauliflowers, typical Winter-vegetables of Trentino Region, are growing in Nago, Torbole, Santa Massenza and in Vezzano. It will be dig between November and April.
Pan di molche
This bread are to find on the Trentino coast of Lake Garda. They add some “olive-skins” to the dough.
Acqua di Cedro
This beverage, extracted by the green citron-fruit (cedars) was invented during the 17th. century by a pharmacist of Salò. It is alcoholic and is considered a medicine. White wine will be distilled, in which first were put in pulp and skin of citron-fruit.
An original “Trentino” meal, you can buy that salted beef at all butchers’ of Lake Garda. You can eat it like “Carpaccio”, (that means: raw, cut in thin slices) or roast with beans or some other vegetables in olive-oil. The raw beef will be cut in great pieces, dried as well as you can, flavoured by sugar and salt and then put into great containers with salt and herbs and some white wine for 1 month.
Kiwis from the mountains “Colline Moreniche”
These fruit were cultivated for the first time in 1960. Most of the inhabitants on Lake Garda had never seen this exotic fruit. Today you can find a lot of Kiwi – plantations in the valley “Val d?Adige”, in Bussolengo and round Lake Garda, in the midst of vineyards. The mild climate favourites the grow of the fruit.
Lavarello-fillets will be smoked and put under vacuum, to buy in one of the fish-cooperatives of Lake Garda. One cooperative is to find in Garda, via San Bernardo.