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Törggellen time in South Tyrol – a feast of autumn

In this article our guest author, Lee McIntyre, shares some of the foods of South Tyrol she came to love while living in Bozen/Bolzano, Italy and invites us to experience the Törggellen festival, a mouth-watering celebration of autumn.

Bozen/Bolzano is a beautiful medieval town nestled at the foot of the Dolomite mountains, a town with a subtle blend of Italian style and Tyrolean tradition. But the thousands of visitors who use the town as a base to explore the surrounding natural wonders of the South Tyrol also know that there are a number of Tyrolean food specialties that shouldn’t be missed!

Bolzano 2

One way to taste many of those foods all at once is to head to the South Tyrol in the autumn to have a traditional Tyrolean Törggellen feast. I think of the Törggellen meals as sort of “harvest” celebrations, although I’m not sure that’s really quite an accurate description. Unlike the Thanksgiving holidays in North America and elsewhere, where everyone celebrates the harvest on the same day, there is no one day for a Törggellen. Rather, restaurants offer these meals throughout the autumn months.

A Törggellen meal begins with a typical Tyrolean first course of a starchy item: for example, you might start with Schlutzkrapfen/mezzelune, little squares of pasta that look like very thin ravioli, often filled with “something green” (a mix of spinach, onion and herbs, traditionally), pumpkin, or squash. This dish is topped with melted butter and Parmesan cheese.

A plate of Schlutzkrapfen/Mezzelune Photo: Lee McIntyre

A plate of Schlutzkrapfen/Mezzelune to start the Törggellen meal

Or you might choose instead some Knödel/canederli, which are big bread-based dumplings. These are made with bits of bread-for-stuffing (like you’d use to stuff a goose or turkey), which is then mixed with pieces of cheese, small chunks of Tyrolean cured bacon (Speck), and/or bits of spinach. This bread mixture is then shaped into balls or ovals and boiled in water. Like the Schlutzkrapfen, Knödel are often served in a melted butter sauce and topped with Parmesan cheese (my favorite!), although another typical presentation is serving them in a soup.

South Tyrolean Knödel/canederli Photo: Lee McIntyre

South Tyrolean Knödel/canederli to eat at the Törggellen meal

After the first course, the Törggellen feast becomes all about the meat. Specifically all about pork. I once had a hard time identifying all the kinds of pork products that were presented on a Törggellen platter, there were so many different varieties presented, including ham, roast pork, and many varieties of pork sausages. Pork dishes in the South Tyrol always appear alongside a bowl of some of the tastiest horseradish I’ve ever eaten, anywhere. It’s not sour and adds just a bit of a kick when combined with a bit of roast pork, or a slice of salami.

 Pork features heavily in the Törggellen feast in South Tyrol Photo: Lee McIntyre

Pork features heavily in the Törggellen feast in South Tyrol

But the most different for me of all the pork offerings is the dark red Blutwurst sausage. In English, the literal translation of that is “blood sausage”, which doesn’t sound that appetizing, and it’s not something I ever ran across in the U.S. At a Törggellen it is served whole and hot on the central pork platter; you slice off a bit of it to transfer to your plate. It’s not as solid as the other sausages and it sort of falls apart and spills out of the casing when you cut into it. Lots of spices, including cloves, gives it a really distinctive taste. Very flavorful, very different … and very good, but definitely an acquired taste at first.

Blood Sausage served at a Törggellen feast Photo: Lee McIntyre

Blood Sausage served at a Törggellen feast in South Tyrol

There are usually no vegetable side dishes offered at a Törgellen, apart from the piping hot sauerkraut, which has little pieces of pork mixed in, in keeping with the overall pork-theme of the meal. At the Törgellen feasts I went to, the bowl of sauerkraut on the table was constantly replenished – an all-you-can eat offering at the meal.

Fresh Sauerkraut, served hot at a Törggellen feast in South Tyrol Photo: Lee McIntyre

Fresh Sauerkraut, served hot at a Törggellen feast in South Tyrol

Of course, in some ways, even all of that food serves as merely a preamble to autumn-specific food that comes at the end of the meal: a huge pile of roasted chestnuts accompanied by glasses of the “new wine” that has just been bottled. Your fingers become quite sooty as you peel the still-warm blackened chestnuts, revealing the plump, cooked nut in side. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the slightly sweet and every-so-slightly fizzy new wine.

Roasted chestnuts end the Törggellen feast in South Tyrol Photo: Lee McIntyre

Roasted chestnuts end the Törggellen feast in South Tyrol

Although the chestnuts accompanied by new wine are available only in autumn, all of the other standard Törggellen specialties can all be found in restaurants year-round. So any time of year is perfect for a visit to sample the sumptuous flavors of the South Tyrol.

Read more about the food and wine of South Tyrol

Cycling with wine and apples – on the wine road in South Tyrol
Traditional South Tyrol food and wine with a gastronomic twist

To plan your visit to South Tyrol

For more information to plan your own visit, find accommodation and discover all the things to do in South Tyrol, visit the South Tyrol Tourism website

LeeAbout our guest writer: Lee McIntyre is an American photographer, teacher and author who has lived, traveled and taken photos all over the world. Prior to moving to Tübingen, Germany in 2011, she spent three years in Bozen/Bolzano, Italy trying to master the ins and outs of life in a new language in the South Tyrol. Lee chronicles some of her adventures in her lighthearted memoir, “Life on a Gelato Diet: Everyday Expeditions with an American in Bolzano”, available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon worldwide, and for all eBook readers from LeanPub. Lee has also created a line of tote bags featuring some of her most popular photos from Bolzano. Available in a variety of sizes and designs from shop.clfoto.net, these bags are perfect for everyone’s everyday expeditions, anywhere in the world. Find out more about Lee’s current projects on her website at www.clfoto.net.

Photos: copyright Lee McIntyre except first photo by Heather Cowper

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Paul (@luxury__travel)
    October 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I’m trying to shed a few lbs at the moment (20 lbs lost so far since the end of August), but reading this isn’t helping!! 😉 The Schlutzkrapfen, in particular, looks delicious but I’m sure it must pack a few calories, too…
    Paul (@luxury__travel)´s last blog post ..Recipe of the week: Balinese pork ribs

  • Reply
    Jackie De Burca
    October 10, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Great article thanks Lee. I think it’s so important to immerse oneself in the food of a travel destination. Actually there are some similarities to Spain – firstly there are heaps of harvest festivals here also, on different dates. Secondly there are also blood sausages that I wasn’t keen to try, but actually they are very tasty. Finally I have seen and eaten a lot more pork in Spain than I would have in Ireland. However I don’t think the pork offerings are quite as extensive as in South Tyrol.
    Jackie De Burca´s last blog post ..Blanes Travel Guide-An Insider’s Guide To The Blanes Area

  • Reply
    Lee
    October 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    @Paul: Thanks, Paul! Yes, the Schlutzkrafen definitely aren’t calorie-free – but they are definitely delicious!. How can you go wrong with a filled pasta topped with grated cheese and melted butter, eh? 😉
    @Jackie: Thanks, Jackie! I loved all the food festivals in Italy – and in Bolzano we got the best of all worlds, with both Italian and Tyrolean food celebrations. For me as well, blood sausage was initially off-putting as a concept because of the name, but I discovered it was very tasty. Here in Germany we have a fair number of pork products – but the range in the South Tyrol was truly astonishing!
    Lee´s last blog post ..Guest post on CheeseWeb

  • Reply
    anna parker
    October 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    And now I’m hungry! I would love to visit the Dolomites, and this food looks like another reason! I don’t know enough about different bits of Italy away from the cities so thank you for introducing another area!
    anna parker´s last blog post ..Flashback Friday Travel Photo Memories 10 – Morocco

  • Reply
    alison
    October 10, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Lee-First of all what a fabulous jacket you are wearing! Your photos whet my appetite even though I am not a meat eater. The top photo of Bozen is a perfect way to transport me into relax mode for the weekend.
    alison´s last blog post ..Goodbye to Fire Island

  • Reply
    Lee
    October 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    @Anne Parker – Thanks, Anne! Bolzano is an easy train ride from Verona, Milan and Venice, so hope you make it up there on one your trips in the near future!

  • Reply
    Kathryn Burrington
    October 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Definitely a hunger inducing post. It all sounds fantastic and another great reason to visit this lovely part of the world. Combining it with a trip to Venice sounds perfect!
    Kathryn Burrington´s last blog post ..Sweet treats in Corsica

  • Reply
    Lee
    October 12, 2014 at 9:37 am

    @Alison, Thanks! The Schlutzkrapfen and the Canederli can sometimes come in completely non-meat versions, too, so you won’t have to miss out on the food when you visit Bolzano! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lee
    October 12, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    @Kathryn, Thanks! It’s definitely an easy train trip from Bolzano to Venice; my husband and I went to Venice for many a long weekend while we were in Bolzano. 🙂

  • Reply
    Penelope
    October 26, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    As an unapologetic pork lover, this post made me drool like crazy! Why are the Italians so awesome at food?
    Penelope´s last blog post ..The Natural Wonders Of Paraguay

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      October 27, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      @Penelope I think these Torgellern meals are best combined with a brisk walk before or after to work off all that meat and calories

  • Reply
    Lee
    October 28, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    @Penelope – yes, you really eat well all over Italy. I agree with @Heather that a brisk walk after a Törgellen is in order – but luckily in the South Tyrol you’re in a beautiful place and can take that walk in Dolomites! 🙂

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