Porsche Travel Experience: an Alpine food revolution
Love for his homeland and cuisine has powered one man’s unique mountain venue
A couple on a trip of discoveries in the Alps
Helli Gufler’s Alpine delicacies attract food lovers from all over the world. With the Porsche Travel Experience Alpine Performance, we take a detour to a very special mountain hut in the South Tyrolean Alps that is a beautiful assault on the senses
“That one there, that’s mine,” says Helli Gufler, pointing to one of the cows on the side of the road on our way up to his unique mountain venue, Gompm Alm. “It’s not organic – it’s better than organic,” he says earnestly. “When we’re up top, you’ve got to try my tomahawk steak.” Helmuth Gufler – known by everyone in this part of the Italian South Tyrol simply as ‘Helli’ – has little use for grand rhetoric or labels. And just as little interest in fulfilling traditional expectations. Up here in the Sarntal Alps, at an altitude of 1800m, Helli has created a unique location for his guests. It’s a place where you can take life easier and get back to basics, says this stone sculptor and former nightclub owner of his philosophy.
Man stands in wooden door frame looking outside
Helli Gufler runs Gompm Alm with passion, honesty and innovation
Like most Alpine huts in the area, the Gompm Alm is family run. It was originally a pasture for mountain cattle, which his grandfather converted into a guesthouse. Thirty years ago, Helli decided to take over the family hut. It was a brave step. In summer, only ten guests a day would wander off into the Alpine pasture, which – to put it mildly – is somewhat out of the way. Today it's virtually impossible to get a seat without a reservation, although hikers are more than happy to wait an hour or so to get the chance to order a steak prepared in the open kitchen that's a feature of Helli’s contribution to a new Alpine food revolution. There’s also a bacon platter – which is something you really don’t expect to experience when you’re in an Alpine pasture. Helli’s creative ideas have brought this beautiful, remote and peaceful place into the 21st Century.
Grilled meat with alpine spruce needles, grilled vegetables and chips
The new Alpine cuisine: Gompm Alm presents old recipes in a contemporary way, like grilled meat with alpine spruce needles
A celebration of Alpine foodOnce a year, this creative Alpine proprietor brings top regional chefs to a special kind of cooking event on his pasture. At the event – ‘The unplugged taste’ – cooking is done exclusively on wood stoves that are spread across the meadows. Old recipes are reinterpreted between the green pastures and grazing cattle, like brook trout or organic lamb from the grill, accompanied by alphorn players and accordions. There are also local wines, not to mention Edelschwarz, Helli’s very own gin, which he himself developed over the course of an entire year.
Two dark bottles filled with Edelschwarz gin
The name Edelschwarz comes from the two most important ingredients of the 17 used: edelweiss and blackberries
Distilling the Alpine spiritEdelschwarz may have small beginnings, but it now plays in the Big League when it comes to great gins. It is a 47% London Dry Gin with a unique, Alpine composition – clear mountain water from the pasture, hay, and a bit of edelweiss and blackberry extracts, as well as 15 other Alpine botanicals. Passion, curiosity and expertise are what makes Helli’s premium gin unique. But then his philosophy would never allow for anything else. “We have macerated a piece of our origin and personality,” is how he describes it. The ingredients are distilled gently and carefully in small copper stills, where they then mature for two months, developing a fresh, slightly fruity taste with a fine balance of Alpine aromas.
A close-up of man with tattooed arms holding spruce branches
Helli Gufler’s Edelschwarz gin is suffused with the aromas of the Alps
The elegant black bottle with its minimalist design is in complete contrast to the rustic ambience of the quaint hut which inspired it. It also inspires the connoisseurs among the Porsche enthusiasts gathered here today. You really don’t expect to get a gin and tonic served to you while sat on an Alpine pasture. Helli tells us that, in some ways, he has also distilled his personality into this gin – as well as all the experiences he brings back to his Alpine home from his global travels. His approach is one fed by something of a good, old-fashioned, down-to-earth attitude. It’s about quality, whatever it takes. Of preserving time-honoured skills, but at the same time being open to something new and have the desire to reinterpret it. What Helli says he is doing here – reinterpreting Alpine food traditions, and sometimes inventing new ones – reminds him a little of a Porsche 911. In fact, the legendary Timmelsjoch road, which skirts the border between Austria and Italy, is only a few kilometres away. We arrange to take on a few hairpin bends together – but in the morning, of course. Meanwhile, the aroma of gin in our nostrils has now been replaced by that tomahawk steak that Helli mentioned earlier. At Gompm Alm, your senses are constantly working overtime.
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