Love to prepare local food specialities in your own kitchen? Love unique local wines? Well, I have the perfect pairing suggestion for you.
Pasta comes in many shapes, and not all originate in Italy. In fact, believe it or not, there is a variety that is thought to have its origins in Swabia in southeast Germany.
I am talking about the mighty spaetzle, a quite unique type of egg noodles which are a favourite side dish especially with hearty stews and meat served with gravy.
Spaetzle are actually found in many cuisines of the Alpine region – southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, and South Tyrol (Alto Adige) but also Hungary and Alsace in France.
Though part of the pasta family, spaetzle are made somewhat differently. While pasta is typically made with semolina flour and formed into a dense dough that’s kneaded and then rolled out thinly before cut into its specific form, spaetzle are made from a batter that’s more similar to pancakes.
In addition, to make spaetzle, you will ideally need a specific spaetzle maker. It is similar to a grater but has holes and a sliding head. Placing the spaetzle maker over a pot with boiling water, tunning the head up and down over the holes, the batter will drop into the hot water and cook to perfection in just a minute or two.
If you do not have a spaetzle maker, you could still make them by hand, rubbing the batter between your palms and dropping the surplus batter into the boiling water. Though it will need some trying and testing and likely ending with the droplets resulting in various sizes.
To make classic spaetzle, you only need flour, eggs, salt, and water. But just like you can add a particular colour or flavour to traditional Italian pasta, for example adding pesto to the pasta dough to make green pasta, you can add particular flavours and colours to your spaetzle.
To give them an extra kick and make the look a much more lively yellow, I have added turmeric to the traditional recipe.
Just have a look for yourself. Aren’t these spaetzle popping on that plate?
I made the spaetzle as side for a venison ragout, and lots of gravy.
Which obviously called for a fuller wine. Though most of the classic red wine varieties would work well with red game meat, venison typically has a finer texture and is a bit leaner compared to other red meat cuts.
Which had me thinking of a Lagrein from the Alto Adige (South Tyrol) region in northern Italy.
The variety was first mentioned in commercial documents in 1379, and it has always been associated to be a noble wine; and thus in the past was often available only to an exclusive group of select few.
Fast forward, it is still a very elegant wine, medium to full-bodied with soft acidity and actually quite affordable too.
About Elena Walch winery
Speaking of Alto Adige wines, Elena Walch is a name that can’t be missing. A well-regarded figure both locally and internationally for her leading role in revolutionizing traditional wine making adding new, modern, and strictly sustainable concepts, her winery is one of the leading Alto Adige wine estates.
Sustainability is actually nothing new at the winery. The historic wine cellar was built almost 150 years ago from natural stone and underground, allowing for natural temperature control. More recently – in 2015 – an additional underground high-tech cellar was built, working with the principle of gravity to guarantee the integrity of the grapes.
The beautiful winery in Tramin, located about 20 kilometres southwest of the region’s main city Bozen, is open to visitors for wine tasting and cellar tours; and is home to a little garden bistro serving snacks and cold cuts from the area.
Elena Walch winery makes a wide range of white, rosé, and red wines from both local and international grape varieties.
Tasting Notes: Elena Walch Lagrein Alto Adige DOC
The Elena Walch Lagrein Alto Adige is made from vineyards located in Tramin and Kaltern who benefit from a mild, almost Mediterranean climate with around 1,800 hours of sunshine annually and hot summer days.
The wine is macerated for 10 days in steel barrels at a controlled temperature and later aged in wooden barrels.
In the glass, an intensive deep ruby red .
On the nose, spicy with intense berry aromas.
On the palate, full-bodied, fruit-forward and dense yet elegantly structured with soft tannins.
A great wine for red meat, game or aged cheeses.
Recipe: Turmeric Spaetzle
400 g all-purpose flour
150 ml water
1.5 teaspoons turmeric
1 tablespoon butter
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, eggs, a pinch of salt and water and beat at high speed until obtaining a fluffy, sticky batter. You will know it’s ready when it starts to form ‘bubbles when stretching with a wooden spoon’. If the batter results to firm, add some more water.
Set aside for 10 minutes to let set.
In a large saucepan, bring abundant salted water to boil.
Using the spaetzle maker, fill the batter in small portions into the sliding head, move head up and down to press batter through the holes.
Let spaetzle boil in the water for about 2 minutes, until they start floating to the top. Remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, quench in cold water (which helps to let the spaetzle firming up and taking the needed consistency). Transfer to a sieve to let dry from excess liquid.
If you do not have a spaetzle maker, let the batter drop into the boiling water by rubbing it between your hand, forming small droplets.
Melt butter in a skillet, add the spaetzle and toss for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Serve as side to a hearty stew or meat with gravy.