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Mountain Cuisine

A Taste of Alpine Foods and Beverages

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By Susan Breslow Sardone

Global gourmets prize the food of the Alps, where chefs both modern and traditional pride themselves on preparing meals that look as good as they taste. And with so many calorie-burning activities available, you can dine well without adding pounds.

Savor the fresh bounty of fields, lakes, and forests.

ITALY. Tyrolean cheese dumplings, sausage, and risotto and osso buco alla Milanese all please northern Italian palates. While pasta is prevalent in the south, expect to find rice and polenta typical accompaniments here. Since dairy farming is common, cream is a prime ingredient in sauces, and cheeses such as Fontina and Asiago are plentiful. In addition to the local bounty, delectables such as mushrooms from the Valle de Non, artichokes from Naples, and ham from Fiuli all make their way to tables in the Italian Alps.

AUSTRIA. Satisfy your sweet tooth in the country that gave the world the Sacher torte. This rich chocolate cake, layered with apricot jam and coated with chocolate, is traditionally topped with whipped cream. Dinner time brings forth hearty delights such as wiener schnitzel and goulash with dumplings on the side. As for spirits, a new generation of vintners has garnered a number of international awards. Austrian liqueurs and schnapps are superior as well. And sweet eiswein - from grapes left on the vine till the first frost - is good till the last drop.

GERMANY. Even breakfasts are abundant here: Expect a selection of meat, cheeses, fruit, and rolls to start your day. Many of the country's best-known foods, such as smoked ham and Black Forest cake, originate in the Alps. In the mood for a hot dog? After tasting a grilled German sausage with mustard, you may never be able to swallow a ballpark frank again.

In Bavaria there are no fewer than 750 breweries, and the State Brewery at Weihenstephan, founded in 1040, is the world's oldest. Starkbier is said to be the strongest beer available. Wine aficionados can fill their glasses with flowery Müller-Thurgaus, full-bodied Silvaners, and tasty Rieslings.

SWITZERLAND. Thanks to its central location and cultural mix, Switzerland offers diverse dining pleasures. As you cross the country, expect to find fondues on the menu in French-speaking areas; sausage, roasts, and fried potatoes (rösti) in German parts; air-dried beef in the Graubünden region; and Italian specialties in the Ticino. Potent, tasty brandies like cherry Kirsch warm the insides. And don't neglect to end a meal with a mouth-watering Swiss pastry.

More Alps >

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Austrian Alps
Part 3: German Alps
Part 4: Italian Alps
Part 5: Swiss Alps
Part 7: Alpine Spas

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