Enzo Coccia & Norbert Niederkofler

Deep-fried pizzas at high altitude: with my friend Norbert on the Dolomites

by Enzo Coccia

My phone is ringing, I read on the display the name of my friend Norbert – I added him in my contact list without specifying his last name Niederkofler, too hard to spell and say – the Michelin-starred chef at St Hubertus, the gourmet restaurant of the gorgeous Rosa Alpina Hotel & Spa – Relais & Châteaux, in Alta Badia, just a few steps from Cortina d’Ampezzo.

We haven’t seen and heard from each other for ages. Last time, we were together touring around Li Galli islands on the boat of Vito Cinque, owner of Il San Pietro di Positano hotel, and he didn’t stop teasing me because I can’t swim. He kept calling me “mountain man”! He, which lives in Trentino Alto Adige, kept calling me, which I live by the sea on the Gulf of Naples, mountain man!

And, indeed, the phone conversation began with: “Mountain man! How are you? How about making some deep-fried pizzas on the Dolomites at an altitude of 2500 meters?”.

I agreed without thinking twice. And so, on April 1st, 2016, we met on the minivan that takes people to the chair lift. We took it but it was not enough to reach our destination, so we had to climb even higher with the snowmobile which carried the dough, prepared with great care the night before, and what was needed to make our deep-fried pizzas too.

And here we were at work: what a spectacular view! We were at a height of 2500 meters, on the snow, surrounded by the Dolomites and tourists with skis on their feet curious to know (and, above all, to taste…) what we were making.

I made two deep-fried pizzas: one filled with Sorrento lemon leaves and fresh ricotta cheese, the other with the same fresh cheese and cigoli (pork scratchings). Norbert dealt with one of his many specialties: a Cook the Mountain deep-fried pizza stuffed with maso el brite ricotta cheese, slightly smoked, piglet’s bacon and fried pork rind; all these creations were prepared using a dough made with a 10-year-old mother yeast!

Our challenge, supported by Ferrarelle, was filmed by Italia Squisita’s cameras. And I really felt like a true mountain man for a day! It’s amazing how two people like us, so distant, can resemble each other: the love for our land, our culinary traditions, our families and jobs unite us more than we may think, overcoming any geographical distance.