Food, or should I say Flowers, for thought at Alpe di Siusi’s Malga Gostner!

It’s no secret that over the last 5 years I’ve become passionate about Alto Adige, the Dolomite mountain region of Italy and home to a unique style of cookery. The mountains have long provided inspiration to climbers, trekkers, skiers and lovers of outdoor pursuits but now the mountains themselves are providing inspiration to a new generation of chefs who are literally using the natural resources to give life to their dishes.

One restaurant in particular is gaining a reputation for their use of flowers and herbs in their cookery. Driven by young chef Franz Mulser, restaurant Malga Gostner is gathering fans from across Italy all curious to taste the flower power in their dishes. Franz’s piece de resistance during the ski season is undoubtedly the Crema di Fieno, a creamy soup made with mixed flowers and herbs, served in a cob loaf providing both a tasty and filling lunch for hungry skiers. The flowers are central to the recipe but also provide the decoration allowing diners to see what they are eating. It’s worth mentioning that whilst many flowers are edible many also contain harmful properties so it is important to know what you are doing before embarking on cookery of this type and Chef Franz has spent his childhood learning all about the flowers in his Dolomite garden.

The lunchtime menu is littered with local specialities such as canederli dumplings, infused naturally with herbs and flowers, and kaiserschmarrn  but unlike the neighbouring huts and restaurants each has been given the Gostner twist. The menu reads like a gardners manual with  meat dishes “con pesto dei prati del alpe” served with pesto made from the alpine meadow, a nod towards the mix of flowers and herbs used in making the pesto, with  “insalata di erbe e fiori” salads made of mixed herbs and flowers not to mention the many more common herbs used in their cooking; sage, wild fennel, thyme to name but a few.

If the lunchtime menu impresses than the evening menu will most definitely set you salivating. This Easter weekend we took to Malga Gostner (Malga literally means “farm”) to experience Dolomite haut cuisine at its best. The scene couldn’t have been more perfect with a sprinkling of snow on the ground and a full moon illuminating the hut as we made our way tentatively up the hill. If you want to go full out romantic you can book a horse and carriage ride to the door but with 4 children in tow and a small artillery of prams, buggies and such we opted for the more practical car option.

Inside, the hut is like entering the family living room with photos covering every wall and simple but welcoming decor making you feel instantly at home. We had the downstairs dining room with view of the kitchen meaning we got to see first hand Franz in action. There is also a small upstairs room and a private dining area in a smaller hut outside guaranteeing a truly intimate experience in the middle of the mountain wilderness.

Our menu for the evening;

Carpaccio of venison lightly smoked with juniper

Potato Canederlo (dumpling) filled with home-made Malga cheese and served on a bed of beetroot

Ossobucho of Pork in red Lagrein wine served on thyme polenta

Sweet bread pudding with apple and chestnuts served with vanilla ice-cream and spuma of zabione

but before we start we are treated to an amuse-bouche of white tomato mousse with speck ham and of course a sprinkling of flowers to top it off. For a mountain farm hut the presentation is akin to a top restaurant and the taste surpasses all expectations. Maybe it’s the mountain air fuelling our appetites or maybe Franz is simply a genius. Either way the meal starts in fine form.

As each dish comes out we form our own little orchestra of cooing, oohing and aahing guests and even the children seem bemused by our reactions. Although they are not sharing our menu the childrens plates come out looking like pieces of art and a simple polpetta meat ball is transformed into a distinctly more elegant looking dish.

The risk with some traditional Dolomite dishes is that they can be a bit heavy and for want of a better word “mountain-like”. Franz’s potato Canederli in place of the usual bread based dumpling was a genius idea as it made for a much lighter primo and made sure we still had room for our Ossobucho. The flourish of flowers and delicate sauces take each dish from the benign to the divine and by the end of the meal we are are literally over-dosing in flavours.

Despite bursting at the seams we order up a Kaiserschmarrn, for the kids (of course!) which alongside our bread pudding soon gets gobbled up by us adults…well Easter is about feasting after all! Needless to say the rest of the Easter weekend was spent walking off our feast!

To finish our host and chef Franz greets us at the door with a hot toddy beside the outdoor wood stove and friends Elena and Marzia are quick to take him up on the offer, Cheers!

Malga Gostner

Seiser Alm – Alpe di Siusi

Post: St Vigil 7, 39040 SEIS

Fam. Franz Mulser

Cell: +39 347 8368154

Mail: gostnerschwaige@rolmail.net

Opening: Mid-December to Mid-April and Mid-May to Mid-October

Opening: Lunchtime daily and dinner by reservation

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Comments
4 Responses to “Food, or should I say Flowers, for thought at Alpe di Siusi’s Malga Gostner!”
  1. Karen says:

    We spent 5 days in the Alto Adige this past fall and not only is the area beautiful but the food is outstanding. Your meal sounds like it was delicious.

  2. Federico says:

    Great place, scrumptious food, tasty evening and mouth watering pictures!

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