December Wine Letter: Historical Christmas & New Year's Eve Recipes

Oh mulled wine, oh punch, oh Christmas tree!
It's still rather warm so we can't really get in the mood for Christmas: but very soon little lights will be shining everywhere, first 1, then 2, then 3, then 4 and then relatives will be standing in the doorway nibbling away at our delicious biscuits. After all, they’ve patiently put up with our excuses for a whole year - but at Christmas time they not going to be put off by anything: they are visiting! What do we want to offer them? Perhaps a goose? No, too rich, we'd rather have a duck. A whole duck! All right, a duck – and if we're lucky, the giblets are still inside. We choose a simple medieval recipe, put on a few catchy oldies and start cooking.
Anyone who is brought to tears by Peter Maffay's song lyrics, („… ich werde dir jetzt etwas sagen, was ich noch zu keinem, zu keinem anderen Mädchen gesagt habe: ich hab dich lieb! Ja …“) might as well cut the onions at the same time, sauté them in some duck fat & briefly sizzle the chopped up duck giblets and any other leftover bits of meat along with about a 1kg of roasted chestnuts (now also available vacuum-packed in supermarkets). Flavour with marjoram, salt, pepper and perhaps even lovage - this makes the duck stuffing. "Guarda come dondolo, guarda come dondolo - co-ooon il twist": if you feel that you’re running late with the whole affair in the kitchen, this party hit from the late 50s might get you moving faster.

Up the tempo: simmer up a soup using the duck’s neck, head and feet together with root vegetables & spices of your choice; rub the inside & outside of the duck with salt, pepper, marjoram & then stuff it with the chestnut filling, sew it up; sear slightly on all sides & then slide it into a preheated oven (220°). "Sará perché io dondolo // saranno gli occhi tuoi che brillano // ma vedo mille-mille lucciole // venirmi incontro ..." Well, now you can take the whole matter a little slower. During the approximate 90-minute roasting time, conscientiously continue to baste the duck with the soup. Finally degrease the gravy (skimming off the fat with a spoon) and if you feel like it, continue to prepare the sauce while the duck keeps warm in the oven. Anyone so excited about this roast duck that they are constantly licking their fingers can welcome the first guests with a groovy little song by Evelyn Künneke: „Du bist ein Ti-ger, du bist ein Ti-ger an Eleganz // Du bist der Sie-ger, du bist der Sie-ger in jedem Tanz // Du bist ein Raub-tier, Du bist ein Raub-tier, das Herzen bricht …“

Stop! Stop! The red cabbage is missing. South Tyrolean chefs are usually in too much of a hurry, so unfortunately in these parts it often tastes like silage. North Tyroleans, however, marinate the sliced red cabbage in orange juice, orange peel, adding a cinnamon stick & cloves for at least 1 night. Then it's time for the real action: caramelise the butter & sugar, sauté the onion a little, sauté the red cabbage and add the orange & apple juice. Simmer gently. "Con le gambe ad angolo, con le gambe ad angolo ba-aallo il twist ..."

For our New Year's Eve party, we are looking for something befitting from Andreas Hellrigl, the master chef from Vinschgau. Andreas Hellrigl (1932 - 1993) was not only one of the best chefs of his time, initially a Michelin starred chef in Merano and then towards the end of his far too short life, a culinary ambassador at his gourmet restaurant "Palio" in New York - Hellrigl, crossed culinary borders, demonstrating and opening up South Tyrolean cuisine to new worlds, ideas, combinations and compositions. In this context, one may… no one must regard him as the cultural precursor of South Tyrolean modernity on the stove, indeed as the forerunner and inspiration to the highly-acclaimed star chefs of our day.

An apt dish for New Year's Eve, the time we all pop corks, is Hellrigl's "Cream of Champagne Soup"! Ingredients: 0.5L hearty chicken soup - 20ml cream - 4 tbsp whipped cream - 6 egg yolks - 250g dry champagne, 1 pinch of cinnamon & some cayenne pepper. Bring the soup to the boil with the cinnamon and half of the champagne. Mix the yolks and the liquid cream separately, then pour over the hot soup, add the rest of the champagne, season to taste with cayenne pepper, simmer over a low heat stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until the soup thickens but does not boil, whisk until smooth and finally fold in the whipped cream. Enjoy! We wish all our VINUM Hotels South Tyrol guests a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!
The VINUM-Hotel - January Wine Letter:
Entirely Magnum - great South Tyrolean wines in large-scale formats

Good wines, Hugh Johnson, the legendary wine connoisseur once said in an interview, do not need to provide answers - they should pose the questions. "Even simple wines develop excellently in large bottles," writes columnist Manfred Klimek, who considers himself to have a populist understanding of wine with an individual touch. And he continues: "Last Christmas we had a double magnum of Antinori's quite unpretentious Tenute-Chiantis, a fine everyday wine from a large estate. But the 1995 double magnum was a real hammer. Fruity, weighty, balanced. And ripe. An inconceivable pleasure to drink. For just under 170 Euros. Everyone at the table was thrilled." A South Tyrolean wine in a magnum bottle? "These biblically large bottles have the great advantage of slower oxidation, allowing the wines to develop over a much longer period" enthuses Martin Lemayr with shiny (winey) eyes, the successful and longstanding cellarman of Schreckbichl Winery. The VINUM-Hotels South Tyrol January wine letter is dedicated to these great South Tyrolean wines in large-scale formats!