The 25th edition of Ski Trek (#SkiTrek2015), the annual winter reunion of family and friends in the Dolomites of northern Italy, is now in the record books, but as I stow my ski gear away for a long hibernation, she still lingers on my palate.
Along with the 49 other skiers, boarders and non-combatants that made up this year’s avalanche of Canucks, Italians, Yanks, one Aussie and an Irish Colleen, I devoured three squares a day of mouthwatering South Tyrolean slow food dishes, countless aperitivi, and award-winning wines and spirits from around the Alto Adige region.
Here, under the centuries-old roof, guests are pampered by owner Christian Pircher and treated to gastronomical delights prepped by executive chef Helene Markart and her expert culinary staff from recipes straight out of the pages of her regional cookbook: Cucina Magica delle Dolomiti (Magic of Dolomites Cuisine).
Care for a virtual nibble?
Hearty lunches were consumed at some great rustic rifugi (chalets) along the ski trails wherever we planted our poles and parked our skis.
Hey, what’s the rush when you’re in Italy, on vacation and enjoying SLOW food, right?
From the bar, Aperol Spritz and Hugo aperitivi; red, white and sparkling wines (think Prosecco) and bier von fass; hot mugs of Jägertee and warm glasses of China Martini; and, grappa shots in all kinds of flavors, like my fave Pear Williams. And, from the kitchen, signature regional dishes like canederli (bread dumplings) in broth or creatively stuffed, spätzle (small egg dumplings), gulasch (thick soup/stew), wurst (sausage) and speck (smoked prosciutto ham).
We sipped and savored our way through it all, and then some, like a finely-tuned ski team negotiating the slalom gates in preparation for the next Olympic Winter Games. And at Ski Trek, at least while breaking bread and clinging glasses, we all medalled.
In between the bounty of calorie-laden dishes (who cares!) and topped-off wine goblets, beer steins and shot glasses (why not?), there was “Hockey Night in Brunico,” and strolls down the snow-covered pedestrian-only walkways of Brunico, Dobbiaco and San Candido.
Up in the postcard-perfect Dolomites, there were countless runs down some of the more than 1,200 kilometers of well-groomed trails that make up Dolomiti Superski, along with the Adler Cup, an officially timed ski-snowboard race exclusively for our international group.
And our final night in Villabassa, closing out a quarter century of Ski Trek, was highlighted by an awards-slash-buon viaggio dinner, complete with Certificates of Honor from the local tourist association and the mayor’s office that recognize individual participants for their many years of holidaying in this small village nestled in the heart of the Val Pusteria.
Of the 25 editions of Ski Trek, I’ve attended only 7, a mere drop in the bucket when compared to some of the seasoned vets who have double-digit notches on their belts, like Jim and Franco, our “founding fathers” and the only ones who’ve attended all venticinque. BRAVO!
Granted, this was a settimana bianca (white week), the time-honored Italian tradition of enjoying a week out on the slopes on skis or snowboards, but we did our fair share of “attacking” with knife, fork and spoon, too.
In other words, we came for the snow, but stayed for the spritz, speck and strudel. And, it won’t be any different when we reconvene for the 26th edition of Ski Trek.
Same time next year?
©The Palladian Traveler