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Chefs on tour: Robin Gill in South Tyrol, Italy

We took Clapham’s lauded chef and restaurateur to see the sights and taste the incredible produce of South Tyrol, a mountainous region of Italy bordering Austria. Take a look at what he discovered.

We all have a pretty good – albeit slightly stereotypical – idea of what Italian food is. Pizza, pasta, tomatoes, basil, cheese; these are what we think of as the cornerstones of the country’s cuisine. But a more in-depth look into what’s grown, reared, cooked and eaten in Italy’s twenty different regions paints a much more complex picture. It’s particularly apparent in South Tyrol; a mountainous region in the north of Italy that borders Austria. That’s why we took British chef Robin Gill there for a few days, so he could discover this very special part of Italy.

‘I think I have a good understanding of Italian food, but here I found myself going from one corner to the other, through the valleys and over mountains, and all I saw is South Tyrol,’ says Robin. ‘It has its own identity – wildflowers, wonderful breads with unexpected bursts of flavour. It’s not like anything else; the whole place feels vibrant and healthy and with 300 days of sunshine it just blew me away.’

During his short time there, Robin was shown around by Norbert Niederkofler – one of Italy’s most celebrated chefs whose three-star restaurant St Hubertus is responsible for making South Tyrol a culinary mecca. The producers and farmers he met included Harald Gasser – the owner of Aspingerhof Farm, where he grows over 600 varieties of rare and unusual vegetables on just half a hectare of land, and Siegi Platzer of Stilfser Bergkräuter, who grows unique herbal teas using local herbs and foraged ingredients. Robin also walked through some strawberry fields, which are prized in South Tyrol.

The trip also included visits to Novacella Winery, Bakery Schuster, the agro-tourism farm Maso Runch and Kuppelrain Restaurant, with Robin staying at the boutique hotel Zum Riesen. The variety of places to visit, eat at, drink at and stay proves that South Tyrol has become one of Italy's top destinations for intrepid foodies the world over.

Take a look at the video above to get a taste of what Robin discovered during his trip to South Tyrol, then bring a little bit of the region into your own home by cooking one of the recipes below, which Robin created using inspiration from his time there.

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