A team made only of women – except for sommelier Marco Tufo – at Artifex inside Hotel Feuerstein in Val di Fleres, Brennero. Left to right, chef Tina Marcelli, her wife Kim Marcelli, Stefanie Jehle, Valentina Lovi who takes good care of the dining room, bread maker Angela Martinelli, sous and pastry chef Sandra Kofler. Photo by Tanio Liotta
The name of the person we believe will be a future star in the Italian culinary firmament is Tina Marcelli, born in 1986, a nice discovery; she already shines at Artifex, three fine dining tables inside the Feuerstein Nature Family Resort, a family luxury resort surrounded by nature in Val di Fleres, 5 km from the Austrian border, 15 from Vipiteno and a little more from Brennero. In other words, we're in a land of frontiers. She bears this identity in the middle of two worlds in her DNA: her dad, Marcello, is a chef from Umbria (though he worked for many years in Rome before moving close by to San Candido, first at the Old Fashion Miramonti, and then at Bad Winkel in Campo Tures); her mother, Christina Weger is from Valle Aurina, which is a thin strip in the Alps, squeezed from east to west on the border between Italy and Austria, north of Brunico.
Tina was born and raised here. We cant' tell if it's because of the harsh winters, because of her personality or of her training («My father was always my first judge, very severe, and also my hero and master, I learnt by his side. This is why I don't stop when facing criticism, it helps me improve»), but she is tough, down-to-earth, determined, serious. Yet she's not proud at all, or full of herself; if anything, she believes in hard work.
The hotel surrounded by Val di Fleres. Photo Alex Filz
Feuerstein Nature Family Resort
Tina Marcelli. Photo from Manuel Kottersteger
A very new dish from Marcelli, which we haven't tasted: Duck tea with dim sum with its entrails, gel of dashi with potato puccia (puccia is the classic loaf from South Tyrol, made with rye and wheat, aromatised with anis seeds). On the side, Praline of braised duck leg with spicy mayonnaise
Tina shoes excellent skill and surprising maturity, «I always focus on raw materials. I want people to see them, sense them, experience them». She accepts advice. As the one we gave for her Carabineiro in tempura with wasabi mayonnaise, chutney of passion fruit and mango, lemon zest, the breading made with rice was a little to heavy and thick, «I've changed it now, it's very thin» she told us a few days later.
There's an idea at Artifex, there's structure, awareness, culinary culture, preparation, determination. And they're willing to work hard.
The only man in the staff, sommelier Marco Tufo, born in 1984 in San Giorgio del Sannio, Benevento, also deserves a mention. He's also well focused, with never banal pairing recommendations, as in the case of the excellent 100% Solaris from Boutique Winery, Prato allo Stelvio, in Val Venosta. Another discovery.
Our dinner as portrayed by Tanio Liotta.
Potato croquette, malga cheese, wild redcurrant jam, speck from the maso and watercress sprouts
Chicken tom kha gai with coconut milk, lime zest, herb oil, diced vegetables. A beautiful dish, elegant, suave, very enjoyable and well balanced
Bread: classic sourdough loaf leavened 48 hours, mix of spelt and wheat flour; multigrain bread; crackers with oregano; focaccia with potato and rosemary; wholewheat focaccia with walnuts; finally, grissini, lovely. All this is served with three types of butter: malga, with Lagrein and Sichuan pepper, and with dried tomatoes, basil and pine nuts. Angela Martinelli, born in Lucca in 1978 takes care of the bread
Veal tongue cooked at low temperature and glazed with wild red currants and sorrel
A very intriguing Spelt gricia, Tête de Moine, oil with chives, parsley and jowl bacon
Beef steak tartare from Val Pusteria, couscous of cooked and raw cauliflower, herbs, mountain pine nuts, cream of fermented cauliflower, fir oil. The young woman has class. This dish is a marvel, it brings the usual tartare to the Alps, with fresh, balsamic, elegant and also rich notes
This Pressknodel with Graukäse from Valle Aurina, crunchy speck, onion, rocket, cabbage and cumin seeds is rich and intense. It's a traditional local recipe which Tina wisely interprets. The pressknodel è is a pressed knodel with cheese, first pressed to avoid breaking the structure, then boiled as with normal knodels. Served with clarified butter
Three variations of foie gras, served with apricot chutney (very well made) and pan brioche (idem). Here the foie gras gelato
Three variations of foie gras: Catalan cream of foie gras, with a pinch of salt too many
Three variations of foie gras: rocher of foie gras
Lobster, its bisque, arctic char roe, extra virgin olive oil and herb oil, salicornia
The presentation of this dish needs some improving: Lemon risotto, scampi, foam of lemon, toasted scallop and wild carrot
Rib eye from Val Pusteria, Bearnaise sauce, extra virgin olive oil and herb oil
Cucumber and passion fruit pudding, cucumber sorbet and milk cream. Very fresh and aromatic. The pastry chef is Sandra Kofler. Well done!
Dark chocolate cigar with caramel mousse and beer gelato. Not a novelty but especially elegant thanks to the perfect mix of textures. The chocolate is thin and crispy
An outdoor trip or a journey to the other side of the planet?
One thing is for sure: the destination is delicious, by Carlo Passera
journalist born in 1974, for many years he has covered politics, mostly, and food in his free time. Today he does exactly the opposite and this makes him very happy. As soon as he can, he dives into travels and good food. Identità Golose's editor in chief
Norbert Niederkofler and Lukas Gerges on the roof, Michele Lazzarini is instead going down: the spreading of Cook the mountain passes also through this phase of passage at St. Hubertus, in Alta Val Badia