...will smell as sweet, taste as good --- especially when the other name is Schlutzkrapfen.
Schlutzkrapfen are a specialty of Italy’s Südtirol/Alto Adige region (the northernmost, mountainous area next to Austria). They’re made with impossibly sheer pasta dough, and usually filled with spinach and chives just plucked from the garden. There’s also a touch of cream involved and it usually comes from the neighboring farm. Picture-perfect Schlutzkrapfen are hand rolled and crimped. It simply doesn’t get any better.
When I recently hiked the enchanting Südtirol (home to the Dolomite mountains) with frends, we ordered Schlutzkrapfen every chance we got, trying close to a dozen versions in 10 days.
The best was at Moar, a Jausestation (“snack bar”) in the Villnöss Valley. Every bite elicited rolled eyes and quiet moans – the silken pasta, the bracing flavor of just-picked spinach tinged with cream, the fresh butter lightly browned, the saltiness of grated parmesan. Chef/owner Robert Perntaler runs the show at this popular Gasthaus, with the help of his wife, their young daughter and a bunch of hens who lay the eggs for the glorious cakes, tortes and strudels.
Gasthof Moar, which has a remarkable extensive menu in spite of its "snack bar" name, is reachable by a twisty unpaved mountain road, but most guests arrive on foot via one of the trails that dot that side of the Villnöss valley. On the Sunday afternoon of our warm-up hike (we would meet our mountain guide the next morning for a four-day hut-to-hut trek), we climbed up and out of the village of Teis, then skirted the mountain ridge for about 2 hours until we dropped out of the woods and into the meadows surrounding the picturesque Moar chalet.
The terrace was a scene straight out of The Sound of Music -- crowded and noisy with laughter and the clatter of utensils and dishes, kids playing in the tiny adjacent playground, brilliant blue sky, a profusion of multi-colored geraniums in every windowbox. There were no tables free when we arrived. But my husband and I had fallen in love a few years back with Moar’s beet Knodeln (dumplings) and we were determined to enjoy them again and introduce our friends to the yummy treasure.
The Rohnknodeln (made with finely chopped and crushed red beets, dried bread chunks, Topfen cheese and a flurry of fresh chives) were just as good as we remembered and well worth the wait. According to Frau Pernthaler, the dumplings are first rolled around in a hot pan with butter until they’re browned, then boiled briefly in hot water to complete the cooking. The texture is smooth and creamy, the flavors fresh and herby. The spunky creamed horseradish sauce makes them downright irresistible.