Piedmont – Food
There are several Piedmont regional cuisines, all characterized by the availability of high quality, rich and sumptuous ingredients, the result of French and Ligurian influence.
Piedmont is an alpine border region, which thanks to the continuous passage of traders who crossed the Ligurian sea trough Piedmont to bring their goods to Europe, remained strong influences of the culinary traditions of the neighboring regions. Our trip will visit three different regional cuisines, two of Piedmont and one Ligurian.
“LANGAROLA” REGIONAL CUISINE, One of best regional Italian food, the most famous of Piedmont cuisines, very tied to tradition, based on products of excellence that has the highest point in the White Truffle of Alba.
Below is a dinner with the most representative dishes of the Langarola regional cuisine:
APPETIZER – Vitello Tonnato, also called Vitel Tonné is a recipe of Piedmontese origin was codified in the late nineteenth century. Together with “Russian salad” it is the classic appetizer of the regional Langa cuisine. Prepared with veal boiled in aromatic water, sliced, with mayonnaise with tuna and capers it is eaten cold.
FIRST COURSE/PASTA – Tajarin Fresh Pasta, Long and thin noodles, characterized by a bright yellow color due to the abundant presence of egg yolks. Widespread especially in the Langhe, they are usually prepared following the proportion of 20 yolks per 1 kilogram of flour. Doses, however, vary from family to family. It is a festive pasta, it is served with butter and white truffle.
FIRST COURSE/PASTA – Agnolotti del Plin, egg pasta «tortelli» stuffed with veal and pork, also available in the green version which includes the addition of spinach, characterized by the particular type of closure “il plin”, is the pinch that is given to seal the square-shaped pasta. They are seasoned with butter, sage and parmesan, or with roast sauce, parmesan and truffle, or other white sauces capable of enhancing the flavor of the product.
EXTRA SEASONING – White Truffle d’Alba, Not to be confused with the black truffle, the Bianco d’Alba is one of the most prized products of Italian gastronomy. It is harvested in the floodplains of the Po river and on the hills of the Langhe, where it manages to grow thanks to the shape of the land and a special juncture between land, water and air. In particular, the truffle grows among the oak, Turkey oak and poplar plants. It is added cold to the dishes (eggs, pasta, meat) and gives them an unparalleled aromatic explosion.
EXTRA SEASONING – Bagna Cauda, Hot preparation based on anchovies, oil and garlic, generally used as a sauce for fresh vegetables. The recipe was brought to Piedmont by merchants who had discovered “anchoiade” in Provence, anchovy sauce, oil and garlic. It is a rustic and popular dish, to be enjoyed with winter vegetables: peppers, cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, spring onions, turnips, red beetroot cooked in the oven, boiled potato and hunchback thistle of Nizza Monferrato. It is the convivial dish of the winemakers during the celebration of the new wine.
MAIN COURSE – Fritto Misto Piemontese, it is a traditional peasant dish. The poor cuts of the animals that were slaughtered to be sold where fried in batter by the farmers. The dish consists of vegetables, meats, offal, but also sweets and fruit, all strictly fried. Among the meats and offal are sweetbreads, frog legs, liver and lung, but also more traditional pieces of meat such as chicken, veal, sausage and lamb. It is a truly delicious dish when fried is light, tasty and crunchy.
MAIN COURSE – Gran Bollito Piemontese, this is a winter dish, that must follow the rule of number 7, 7 cuts of meat, strictly from the local breed: the tender, the candy, the thigh muscle, the muscle shoulder, the bow tip and the priest’s hat. 7 accessories: head, tongue, leg, tail, hen, cotechino and loin. 7 side dishes: spring onions, courgettes and fennel with butter, cabbage leaves, potatoes, turnips and boiled carrots. 7 sauces: green bagnet, red bagnet, horseradish sauce, “cugnà” sauce, honey and mustard sauce. Usually the «Gran Bollito» is accompanied by a Barbera red wine.
DESERT – Bonet or Bunet, Langhe spoon dessert, made with amaretti biscuits, cocoa, eggs, milk and rum, and covered with caramel. The name “bonèt” means round hat or cap, whose shape resembles that of the low cone-shaped mold in which the pudding is cooked. The copper mold in which the puddings and flans were cooked was called “bonèt ëd cusin-a”, that is, a kitchen hat, a chef’s cap. The dessert took its name from the mold.
“OCCITAN ROOTS” REGIONAL CUISINE:
The Occitan valleys have suffered from depopulation and impoverishment since the 1950s, in the last ten years people have returned, with the development of a new mountain economy from below. This thanks to the return of many young people (breeders, artisans, farmers, restaurateurs) whose commitment is deeply affecting the social dynamics of the valleys, a true renaissance.
Thanks to these young people, the economy of the Occitan valleys is flourishing again, cooking is one of the driving activities, it is restarted by Occitan traditions, it is more than ever an authentic cuisine, closely linked to the mountains and the passing of the seasons, with contemporary techniques, materials exceptional first courses, great skills and ethical approach, it has become the most gastronomically Italian area Interesting.
Below is a dinner with the most representative dishes of the Occitan regional cuisine:
APPETIZER – Acciughe al verde, Desalted anchovies of Ligurian ” Acciugai” with green sauce, the centenary tradition continues.
APPETIZER – Piemonteseraw veal (Beef Tartare), typical appetizer made with high quality meat, Piemontese Fassona breed, cut into cubes, seasoned with Ligurian olive oil and black truffle and pepper. The version that uses venison or chamois is also proposed, served with Alba white truffle.
CHEESE – Toma and Nostrale cheese, it is the two of most representative cheese of the region, made from alpine cow’s milk and aged for 20 to 45 days depending on the format. It is used in many local preparations.
APPETIZER – Antipasto Occitano, Simple dish made with exceptional ingredients, trumpet zucchini (local type of zucchini), alpine toma cheese (made with summer milk from high mountain pastures) and aioli sauce with wild sweet garlic.
FIRST COURSE/SOUP – Ola al Forn, is a rich soup of legumes, vegetables and meat (beef, pork, sheep or goat) which is cooked in a large earthenware pan all night (about 12-13 hours) inside the wood oven, now turned off after baking bread. Once upon a time, once the bread oven was turned on, the peasants used the high initial temperatures to cook the bread for the whole week and then continued to use the oven even if turned off, but still hot, to cook soups, potatoes and other dishes. . The more rustic versions included, according to the availability of the seasons, the addition of chestnuts, nettles, mushrooms, wild garlic and mountain herbs.
FIRST COURSE/PASTA – Crouzet and BagnaGrisa, Ancient handmade pasta, made with mountain wheat, water and eggs to be seasoned with “bagna grisa”, a sauce of onion and sautéed leeks, milk, potatoes, cream and minced seasoned “toma” cheese.
FIRST COURSE/PASTA – Ravioles de toma, It is the most famous pasta dish in the valleys, it is the dish of important parties it was prepared for the engagement banquet, as a good omen for a happy wedding, or for the baptism of children. Made with the ingredients grown in the mountains, potatoes, rye flour (ancient mountain wheat), eggs, butter and toma cheese.
CHEESE – Castelmagno D.O.P., One of the jewels of Italian dairy art, is produced in the period between May and October, with the milk of the cows that graze freely in the huts above 5500 feet to sea level, using only raw milk, milked twice a day, the seasoning lasts at least four months. Semi-hard blue cheese, can be eaten as a table cheese or as the main ingredient of the sauce to season potato gnocchi, risotto or typical Occitan pastas.
FIRST COURSE/PASTA – Potato dumplings with Castelmagno D.O.P., Potato gnocchi (dumplings), wild asparagus and mountain herbs, with Castelmagno D.O.P. cheese sauce
This is also a simple dish made with the poor ingredients that have always been used by farmers, taste and tradition.
MAIN COURSE – Trota della Regina, not only anchovies, also trout raised in the streams of the Occitan valleys, fish is attached up to four years in spring water at a temperature never above 12 ° C.
The pink color of the meat is linked to the type of diet generally consisting of alfalfa, soybeans and carrots. After being salted, it is smoked with beech wood and then macerated for 24 hours in Moscato wine, subsequently dried.
It is eaten cold in a salad, with canapés and butter or cooked with mushrooms.
MAIN COURSE – Sambucano Lamb with Chestnuts, The Sambucana sheep is a rustic mountain breed originally from the Stura Valley, of very ancient origin; lives at an altitude between 600 and 1,800 meters, has risked extinction in favor of breeds suitable for industrial breeding but has been saved thanks to the work of the new generations of shepherds. It is stewed with chestnuts, an unmistakable dish with a combination of flavors with delicate and penetrating tones.
MAIN COURSE – The Mato cake, is a rich winter recipe typical of the Val Maira. It is a substantial preparation based on poor and genuine products such as rice cooked in milk, potatoes, pumpkin and leeks, flavored with mint and nutmeg. All seasoned with traditional condiments of Occitan cuisine, cream, local cheese and mountain butter and then au gratin in the oven..
DESSERT – Tetti Cake, Rustic pie filled with Madernas pears (pear of the Occitan valleys usually eaten cooked) cooked in spiced red wine, almonds, amaretti, cloves, rum, cinnamon and cocoa.
DESSERT – Clafoutis cake, is a famous French sweet (Clafoutis aux cerises du Limousin), also entered in the Occitan tradition thanks to the passage of travelers in the valleys, the Occitan version is made with wild fruit, cherries, plums or wild apricots. It is served lukewarm or cold with a splash of icing sugar.
SPIRITS – Liquor Genepy, aromatic liqueur made starting from the maceration of the Alpine Artemisias in alcohol. A digestive of ancient origins, whose alcohol content can vary from 30 to 42 °. An extract of the flavor of alpine flowers.
WESTERN LIGURIAN REGIONAL CUISINE:
Liguria is a narrow Italian region 230 miles long that connects Tuscany to French Provence, all overlooking the Ligurian sea and resting on the Maritime Alps. In a country like Italy where there are social, cultural and economic differences every 50 miles, Liguria has several regional cuisines, here we are talking about the cuisine of Ponente Ligure (Western Liguria) on the border with French Provence.
The western Ligurian cuisine shares dishes with French Provencal cuisine, it is a mixed cuisine (fish from the Ligurian sea, animals and vegetables from the Ligurian Alps) with a strong presence of oil (“Taggiasca” olive oil with light and delicate taste) and herbs.
Below is a dinner with the most representative dishes of the Western Ligurian regional cuisine:
APPETIZER – Brandacujùn, is a Ligurian recipe based on cod (or stockfish), potatoes, pine nuts, parsley and oil. During cooking, the ingredients must be “branded”, that is, shake: once the whole pot was shaken until a fairly homogeneous mixture was obtained. The dish was prepared by men, who to be able to shake the pot to mix the ingredients helped each other with a movement of the basin. Hence the funny name of this recipe.
APPETIZER – CapponMagro (Lean), dish based on fish and vegetables. The name “lean” because it was eaten during Lent where according to Christian tradition, lean foods are preferred. In the past it was mainly consumed by sailors or by the servants of the nobles who fed on the waste parts of the banquets, today it is a refined dish prepared with quality ingredients. It looks like a turret, the base layer is made up of a biscuit soaked in white wine vinegar to which layers of fish and vegetables alternate.
It includes four vegetables with distinct colors and flavors: carrot, potato, green beans and beetroot. In spring, fresh peas are added, in winter artichokes. Boiled white fish, sea bass or snapper are used to which prawns and mussels are added.
Finally, it is covered with Ligurian green sauce made from parsley, desalted anchovies, capers, oil, garlic and vinegar, it is eaten cold, the day after preparation.
FIRST COURSE/SOUP – Ciuppin Sanremasco, recipe inherited from Bourride Provençal is a soup of fine white fish, shellfish, vegetables and aromatic herbs.
It is finely passed and served with croutons and Provençal Rouille sauce. The accompanying Rouille sauce is made with bread, fish cartoon, garlic, egg yolk, olive oil, saffron and chilli pepper, it is spread on the croutons before dipping them in the soup.
This fish soup was made by fishermen with the catch they could not sell, the use of herbs and garlic served to harmonize the taste of the different fish.
FIRST COURSE/PASTA – Trofie al pesto e prescinsêua: this pasta dish is based on the three cornerstones of Ligurian cuisine:
Pesto, hundreds of books have been written on the orthodox way of preparing this sauce made with the young leaves of the Basil plants D.O.P. Liguria. In summary, the basil leaves are chopped by hand with the pestle (boxwood) in the mortar (of Carrara marble) together with garlic, Ligurian oil, pine nuts and then Parmigiano or pecorino cheese is mixed at the end.
Trofie: Rustic Ligurian handmade pasta, the name derives from the Genoese term “strufuggiâ”, or rub, from the movement needed to curl them with the hand that crawls the pasta on the work table.
They are made with flour and water, are elongated and twisted and they are cooked in salted boiling water together with potatoes and green beans.
Prescinsêua: It is a typical Ligurian fresh cheese, it is a cow’s milk curd, rather easy to make at home and nowhere to be found outside Liguria. It has a soft paste tending towards the fluid, it has a slightly lumpy but homogeneous consistency, it is slightly acidic in flavor, reminiscent of yogurt or sour cream.
The result is a complex pasta dish that combines the aromatic flavor of basil, the savory of parmesan cheese and the sweet / sour taste of prescinsêua.
MAIN COURSE – Coniglio alla Ligure, White meat dish (Ligurian breed rabbit) cooked in a saucepan in the sauce obtained from the separate cooking of head and liver, also excellent for seasoning pasta. The basic recipe includes pine nuts, Taggiasca olives, aromatic herbs and wine (Rossese red wine or Pigato white wine, the typical wines of western Liguria). The Sanremo variant adds walnuts
MAIN COURSE – Stufato di Capra con fagioli di Pigna, Winter dish prepared with goat meat from the Ligurian Alps and dried white beans from Pigna, a fine variety of local beans with a fleshy and soft pulp.
The goat meat is stewed for a long time in a crock pot over low heat, then browned in oil, celery, sweet Vessalico garlic (a precious variety of Ligurian garlic) and aromatic herbs. To finish cooking, the Pigato white wine and the previously soaked Pigna beans are added. The dish should be accompanied by Rossese di Dolceacqua red wine.
DESSERT – Baci di Alassio, the name “bacio” (kiss) is very popular with Italians and gives a feeling of sweetness, which is why many confectionery products are so called.
The Baci di Alassio born in 1910 in the “Balzola” pastry shop, are made up of two “biscuits” of rounded shape, with the veins due to the striped tip of the “Sac à poche”, flattened on one side. The two biscuits are “glued” with a high quality handmade chocolate cream.
DESSERT – Cubaita, it is a dessert of Arab origin spread in the Ligurian hinterland and in the town of Triora. It is called “the nougat of western Liguria” for its crunchy consistency and particularly sweet taste. The name derives from the Arabic qubbat, that is “almond”. The cubaita consists in fact of two thin wafers filled with a filling of chopped dried fruit, honey, lemon and orange zest.