Piemonte Food (25)
Delicious local Italian typical products from the region of Turin and Piemonte. Where to go, what to look out for and when to find them in season. Start with the article below.
Maybe its the French influence, dare we say, but the cheeses of Piemonte are some of Italy's most luxurious. Visitors to the region should note, however, that many fine varieties are produced locally and in such small amounts that commercialization is impossible, even by the web.
The Bra cheese festival is an essential appointment for all of us passionate about eating well, not only in Italy. Described as the biggest collection of quality cheeses in Italy each year, 'Cheese' is organised by Slow Food, the City of Bra and the Ente Turismo Alba, Bra, Langhe and Roero.
Once upon a time the Salone del Vino was the premier enogastronomic event in the Lingotto of Turin. It then started to alternate every year with the Salone del Gusto, but such has been the success of the latter that former no longer exists, usurped by the now huge International Salone del Gusto and Terra Made, as well as the new kid on the block, Slow Fish in Genoa.
This premier Slow Food event takes place in the last weekend of October in even years and over 5 days. The amount of institutional and corporate sponsors may not sit too well with the original concept, but don't be fooled that Italy's best food and wine show begins and ends here.
Three good reasons for visiting the provincial capital of Piemonte? The home of Fiat; of course! 'Juventus', Italy's most supported football team; maybe not! And the third ... Well, we like the delightful cafés and pasticcerie or cake shops where you can sit in elegant surroundings and taste the good life as it must have been 100 years ago. Take your pick from the coffee bars listed below. We tried them all.
Between the Piemontesi & chocolate there is a 350 year old love affair and it's no coincidence that the region and Turin have both played a leading role in the Italian chocolate industry. This is evidenced by the presence of some of the largest confectionary companies in Italy and indeed the world.
October is white truffle month in Piemonte and the annual Alba truffle festival celebrating the famous 'tartufo bianco' truffles is a massive event. Alba is also home of the Associazione Nazionale 'Città del Tartufo' which was formed in 1990.
Truffles are especially mysterious and secretive things. Whether black or white, do we know really enough to bluff our way through a Piemonte wine book launch. The 'Charter of Specific Qualties for the Tuber Magnatum Pico' by the 'Associazione per Il Centro Nazionale Studi Tartufo' in Alba reveals all, and we have a copy. Here are a few tips we are happy to share.
From late October to just before Christmas, the white truffle is king in Alba. It commands the attention, and money, of locals and visitors who hunger to buy or taste it. In the shops, it is displayed under glass and sold by the gram at about € 400-500 per hundred grams.
To be honest, the truffles these days don't necessarily come from the local woods around the Ferrero Chocolate Factory, but more likely the unspoilt zones of the Monferrato in the south-eastern part of Piedmont. Yet Alba remains, as it always has, the key market for the commercialisation of the product in north Italy.
The tuba magnatum pico is located by a dedicated network of truffle hunters or 'trifulau' who search for it with their trusted dogs. Sliced fresh and without being cooked, it can enhance omelettes, fresh pasta or risotto. Butter sauce and the richer Piedmontese equivalent to the Swiss fonduta benefit from the truffle too, not to mention the wonders of truffle oil, truffle butter, or even rice.
With thanks to Tasting Tours, Asti.
We received a bright little brochure from the Comunità Montana Valli Po Bronda e Infernotto recently.
The 26 pages map out various gastronomic routes in an area which stretches to Saluzzo in the east, Crissolo in the west and Baglio Piemonte in the north. This area is known as the Upper Po Valley.
As well as a list of restaurants and fine places to stay, the booklet suggests incredible menus and a calendar of gastronomic appointments.
One of the most typical of the menus goes something like this.
We'll leave it in Italian for the full effect.