Piemonte on the Table – Italian Regional Cuisine
Piemonte on the Table
In line with the meaning of its name, ‘foot of the mountain’ Piedmont is a dwelling of the mountains! Beauty engulfs the region on a whole, especially during autumn!
While thick fog bedspreads large stretches of vineyards, emanating a sense of awe, the fragrance of white truffles and creamy pastas grip even the passer-by’s curiosity.
Piedmont: the Region
Italy’s northwest region, Piedmont, borders Switzerland and France. A true land of mountains, Piedmont is enclosed on its three sides with the Alps’ highest peaks and largest glaciers.
It is also characterized by striking landscapes, soft rolling hills, and flat plains. It is believed to be at its best during autumn. The exact season precisely when the leaves from the trees begin to carpet the floor, and when the fog begins to constantly settle over the land, Piedmont is one of the “must-visit” regions of Italy.
Its regional capital is Torino, which was the first capital of the newly formed House of Savoy at the beginning of the Italian Kingdom. The region still has traces of its royalty everywhere!
From the city’s palaces to its wide streets and avenues, piazzas, churches with an 18th century character, everything has relevance’s to its bygone days. With picturesque scenery encapsulating it, the Alps has picturesque valleys; namely Val di Susa, Valsesia and Val d’Ossola.
One of Piedmont’s cities, Monviso has amazing landscapes, and ski-resorts. Places like Via Lattea and Sestriere welcome winter sports enthusiasts everywhere with its contemporary facilities. The hilly Langhe and Monferrato have rich landscapes that look amazing with cultivated hills, vineyards, small towns and castles.
Making heads turn is Novara and Vercelli which have a generous expanse of water and rice paddies, old farmhouses, and fantastic scenery of the plains all around. Two of its frequently visited tourist hotspots are the Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Islands which have beautiful lawns and gardens. There are a lot of other facets to this region of Italy other than its natural beauty; there is an Italian car manufacturing capital museum- FIAT, intriguing medieval castles, a fortress at Ivrea which has prized works of architecture, and the popular residences of the Royal House of Savoy to visit!
Tourists also enjoy the fine spa resorts of Aqua Terme and Vinadio that offer treatments for a more relaxing and rejuvenating break. Discoveries and surprises of all kinds are in store for visitors to the region, including a wide range of food and wine to suit every palate.
Brilliant and worth pondering over: Piemonte’s Food
Simple, yet brilliant, the locals of Piedmont love cooking with simple ingredients but in an extraordinary way! They make most use of what they have. Ranging from a top specialty of the region which is fondue to Bagna càuda!
Their regional wonders also include a great mixed fry of braised beef in Barolo wine, an array of cheeses including Toma, Robiola, Bruss, Gorgonzola, and Sernium; Piedmont locals are true meat lovers!
La finanziera is a Ragù variety made with uncommon parts of beef and poultry. Initially a poor man’s dish, now it is the benchmark of even an elegant restaurant of the area. A must-try is Brasato al Barolo and Bolliti, which is served with various sauces. Most renowned and sought after are white truffles, a specialty of Alba and Mondovi. When paired with pasta types like Tajarin or Tagliatelli, the flavor really becomes alive!
Popular in the region are stuffed pastas like Agnolotti, which gets stuffed with everything ranging from cheese to mixed meats. Never miss out the yummy Piemontese Risotto, which is made with local cheese, freshwater fish, game, garden fresh mushrooms and genuine Barolo wine.
It is an unjust to leave Piedmont without tasting its finest red wines! Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Ghemme, Nebbiolo, Freisa, Grignolino, and last but not least the Barbera are worth trying out! People here spend their valuable time on nurturing wines and having grown over fifty varieties of grapes.
They are harvested in the late summer, which gets transformed into best wines including Nebbiolo, Barbera, Barbaresco and Barolo. Off the cheese varieties, the most enjoyed are the Taleggio, Ossolano d’Alpe, also called Bettelmatt, Castelmagno, Robiola di Roccaverano, and Bruss.
During autumn, the region is a little more interesting because people stroll into cloudy forests and hills to gather the season’s treasure, nuts! These local hazelnuts are incorporated into sweets including Gianduia: a famous Piemontese specialty of chocolate- hazelnut cream. Chestnuts were also used in the making of Monte Bianco, a mountain of cream and chestnut paste.
When it comes to Desserts, it is the Chocolates of Turin, Novara biscuits, the Bicciolani of Vercelli, the Crumiri of Casale, the Cuneo chocolate sweets with mix of rum, candied chestnuts, the Baci di dama cookies of Alessandria and Asti, and the special Amaretti almond cookies from Novi.
Apart from the sweets, people of Piedmont also are excellent makers of local breadsticks, otherwise called grissini, which are made from the traditional bread dough, which is good for digestion. Grissini goes well with many Italian dishes and is found almost everywhere!