A foodie's guide to Lake Garda
Imagine the scene: relaxing outside on a sun-drenched patio, overlooking a tranquil lake, while nibbling on beautiful Italian flavours and sipping on some of Europe’s finest wines. This imaginary scene is the reality on a holiday to Lake Garda. The handsome landscape that surrounds Italy’s largest lake is as fertile as it is charming and produces its own delicious take on some of Italy’s most famous produce. Here’s just a delicious sample to get your mouth-watering.
Citrus fruits were first brought to Lake Garda in the 13th century, and have enjoyed a fruitful and important part in Lake Garda’s culinary scene. Two local recipes where citrus fruits are a key ingredient include Limoncino liqueur and lemon cream of the Riviera dei Limoni, a citron-flavoured beverage.
Wines from Trentino
The Trentino Garda area has enjoyed a fair bit of fame in the world of wine thanks to the micro-climate that allows for a unique breed of grapes to flourish. One of the most noteworthy is the Nosiola grape, a delicate flavour that is the perfect accompaniment to some hors d’ oeuvres. The long-lived dessert wine Trentino Vino Santo is actually hand-crafted by allowing the Nosiola grapes to dry on wooden trellises!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The micro-climate of Lake Garda’s northern shoreline also lends a hand to producing a unique brand of olive oil that is recognised by the European Community as worthy of the DOP qualification. Its DOP is verified by its intense golden green hue as well as its sweet almond and fruity taste. Whether it’s a salad, fresh meat or a fried seafood – you’ll find this locally-grown variety of olive oil drizzled on many dishes.
Locally caught fish
In many of the villages that decorate the banks of Lake Garda, fish is caught and cooked using traditional methods. Trout has longed been crowned the nickname of Queen of the Garda, because of the high quantities found in the water. Sardine, whitefish, eels and tenches are all common seafood delicacies that can be caught from its shores.
Cattle from the Morenici hills
The cheeses and cold meats that are served abundantly in the Lake Garda towns come from cattle that were bred on the luscious pastures of the Morenici hills. Most notable is the Morenico De.C.O (doc) salami and the salami of Pozzolengom, both of which are produced from beef of romagnola cattle.
This bow-shaped pasta boasts a long history in Northern Italy, and legend has it that it was made to honour the star-crossed lovers Silvia and Malco who were not allowed to be together. There’s even a 'Knot of Love' festival held in their honour!
To this day the pasta is made strictly by hand, and is rolled until it’s as thinned out as possible while still remaining intact. Traditionally, the filling is a mix of beef, pork and chicken with carrot, celery and rosemary for further flavour – then it is left to dry until being cooked in a meat broth and served with butter, sage and a sprinkle of cheese.
Local Lake Garda families have been passing down traditional sweets from parents to child for generations. Keep and an eye out for spelt flour biscuit and the saffron biscuit and the fried Saltarelle of Padenghe if you’re craving a taste of these traditional farmers’ sweets.