Taste Nature – how the Dolomites taste
The less-travelled path
My brother’s birthday was not the only reason I absolutely wanted to invite him for dinner at the Johannesstube in Welschnofen, although I was sure that a gourmet like him would be sure to approve. As a farmer who uses innovative, sustainable techniques on his own farm, dinner at the Hotel Engel was also intended to provide an insight and an outlook as to what could be achieved, both on the farm and in the kitchen. Especially as everything that we were to be served today had come from the Johannesstube’s very own farmer. But as soon as we were greeted by the chef, it was clear even to an amateur like myself that it was not necessary to be either a chef or a farmer to appreciate that this menu represented something truly special.
Trust and understanding in each recipe
Char caviar, fir, venison rump steak, roast roots, vegetables from the year 2017, juniper berry powder – almost all the ingredients served up to us, like works of art on a plate (and by an attentive and knowledgeable waiter), have come from within a radius of just a few miles. And even if this is not possible for certain imported items – no sugar grows in the Dolomites – the chef knows his supplier himself and values his quality policy.
Enjoyment at the Johannesstube is also an ethical issue, but the chef’s creations show that elegance and first-rate cooking do not mean that morality has to be served up as a side dish. His mission is uncompromising and all that he makes has its own special character – yet none of the dishes we eat this evening is in any way showy. We are downright amazed at just how imaginative mountain cuisine can be, even in winter.
Pleasure without compromise
The wines that accompany the respective main dishes are very carefully selected and, to my initial surprise, the wine list offers a short trip through Europe: Spain, France, Germany and of course South Tyrol. Each dish has the appropriate wine to pair with it that depends on the latter’s acidity, taste nuances, fragrances or product philosophy and, after a brief conversation with the wine waiter, I fully understand why it is not just regional wines that are available.
The power of nature
Whether I was ultimately more inspired by the raviolo made with meat from the spectacled sheep of the Villnöss Valley, with an espresso of cured ham and wild herbs, or the Poke Dolomites with fillet of char from the Passeier Valley, artemisia, trout broth, char caviar and wild herbs, would probably come under the heading “Agony of Delectable Choice”. I was also impressed by the fact that there exists a wild mountain pepper in our region, one I had never heard of. Nature is amazing and here, at the Hotel Engel, so too is the award-winning chef and his personal supplier.
Dinner here was not just a joy for the eyes and palate, but also a culinary education as to the high standards achieved by mountain farming and regional value creation! Producing such a menu necessitates a huge amount of know-how, dedication and skills that, in my view, deserves the highest praise, as ensuring sustainability and the finest cuisine here in the mountains is no mean feat!
My brother declared that he had never eaten such an excellent meal. Praise was especially due to the chef, but I too was a little bit pleased – a birthday gift is after all supposed to be a source of pleasure and, in that sense, it seems to have been well and truly a success.
Would you too like to enjoy an unforgettable evening in our comfortable Johannesstube? You can reserve a table online or simply call +39-0471-613131 :)