Just a few minutes ago I was engaged in the tedious task of making copies for my class tomorrow. In between pushing the copy button every 30 seconds, and pushing aside the accumulated junk that is forever on our “desk,” my eyes wandered to the new corkboard that BV hung on the wall. It took a moment for me to recognize the pictures on the little card that was pinned there, but a second later I was transported back to one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had.
Back in May and after a day of hiking up and down the mountainsides that surrounded us, BV and I showered and walked our aching legs into Toblach in search of dinner. We were ravenous, and I was fairly set on trying the food at the Winkelkeller. We had actually tried to go there the first night we arrived, but although the bar was packed and music was playing, they weren’t fully open yet. That was only their opening party, and while we were welcome to have a drink, they couldn’t feed us then. BV wasn’t too sure about the place, but judging from the enthusiasm of the crowd, the ambiance, and the picked-clean plates of finger food that were lying about, I had a good feeling about it.
We arrived at the restaurant at about 7:30, slightly paranoid that they would either be 1) already full, or 2) completely reserved. Instead, it was nearly empty (though not for long), and we were quickly ushered to a table.
Side note: going from Germany to Italy, even predominantly German-speaking Italy like South Tyrol, is such a shock to the system. You mean we can eat past 8 pm? The kitchen doesn’t shut down at 10? We can arrive at 7:30 and basically be the early-bird special people? Woohoo!
In other words, we were ahead of the game. However, that gave us the opportunity to admire the cozy side room that we were seated in. When we tried coming the day before, we had sat ourselves on the other side of the restaurant, which was decorated in a very Alpine-style. Think lots of wood, red accents, and a big Kachelofen (see previous post) dominating the room. This time, our curved-ceiling room really put the Keller (cellar), in Winkelkeller, if your cellar is this nice, anyway…
A basket of fresh bread arrived promptly, and the very young-looking owner* in Lederhosen came to take our drink orders. After a brief consultation with him, BV selected a bottle of Cabernet that was so good that it turned into two bottles.
Now that might sound like a lot, but apparently it was smart of us to get it while we could. BV has since tried to order more wine from the Alois Lageder vineyard, but out of the fifteen varieties of it listed on belvini.de, only one is available. We got two bottles with our last delivery, but we may have to make a pilgrimage to the winery and beat down the door to get more. It was fruity, velvety, and incredibly delicious. Plus, bio!
Perusing the menu, we both got a bit excited. Everything looked good and narrowing down our choice was not going to be an easy task. But since we decided to make this BV’s birthday dinner, we figured we’d go all out.
It was a bit chilly that day, so we both decided to start with a soup. Mine was (I think) a squash curry with apple, and skewers of shrimp. BV had a cheese/beer soup with croutons. Both were wonderfully flavorful, and an excellent way to start the meal.
While we ate our soup, the rest of our room filled around us. I was happy that I had taken a few photos beforehand, as there wasn’t an empty table for the rest of the night. Like us, every table was filled and every guest seemed content to enjoy a long meal, a few drinks, and the excellent service.
With the next bottle of wine, our main courses arrived. BV had selected lamb in hay, with sides of roasted potato and zucchini. I’m not a lamb-eater, but he assured me that it was the best lamb he had ever had. If his face while eating it was any indication, it was really that good.
For my main, I had selected black pasta stuffed with goat cheese. I had literally no idea what the hell “black pasta” meant, but here it was…
I have since learned that black pasta is usually made with squid ink, so I’m assuming that’s what this was. This is probably a case of “things I’m glad I didn’t know beforehand,” because I probably wouldn’t have ordered it and I am oh so glad that I did. These pockets of deliciousness were stuffed with goat cheese, and topped with tomatoes and arugula, as you can see. But the sauce was what made it something special. I would guess that there was some kind of liqueur, perhaps amaretto, involved, as it had a syrupy sweetness that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It was amazing, and if we go back to the Winkelkeller and this is still on the menu, it’s going to be hard to try something different!
After a pause for digestion, we turned our attention to the dessert menu. Because, when in Italy, right? We selected a mixed plate, involving a wee chocolate cake, and magical triangles of tastiness… that’s all I can say five months later, sorry.
To be honest, I’m amazed I even got a picture of the dessert course considering at that point we were totally full but still wanted to eat all the things that came out of that kitchen. I do remember the berry sauce was almost enough to make us lick the plate. Almost.
Finally though, there was nothing left to eat and the wine was gone. We paid the bill while having a hay Schnapps at the bar, and embarked on the full-bellied walk home. A memorable meal indeed, and I do hope that we can get back there before too long. I guess what I’m saying is, if you are in Toblach/Dobbiaco, go here!
Graf-Künigl-Straße/Via Graf Künigl 8,
*Our Airbnb host thought that the restaurant was under new ownership. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but the owner was our waiter, and the chef was at the bar at the end of the night. They both looked to be maybe 30, so if they just took over this place, good on them.
**Website only in German/Italian.