The wonderful foods, wines and flavours waiting to be discovered in the Piedmontese Alps

Tuesday, 11 January 2022 10:16

Whether in a mountain chalet or in a trattoria, the food, wines and flavours to be found in the Piedmontese Alps are truly unique and delicious. Around the Sacro Monte di Oropa, a UNESCO heritage site, the classic is the creamy polenta conscia of the Biella Alps which has a heart of rich local cheese and is served with melted butter. In the Susa valleys, on the outskirts of Turin you have to try the Gofri wafers cooked between two red-hot irons and then served with cured meats, cheeses or sweet toppings. 


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Chestnuts and prosciutto cooked in hay are popular

Other favourites are the cajettes which are gnocchi au gratin baked in the oven. Then there are the chestnuts and the cheese-flavoured breadsticks, the soups, the prosciutto cured ham cooked in hay, and really great dairy products including the Blu del Moncenisio, the Plaisentif and the cheese with violets.

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Piedmont is famous for its gnocchi and rich meat dishes

In the valleys of the Cuneo area the Piedmontese, French and Occitan cuisine blend delightfully. An example of this are the gnocchi made in the Varaita Valley with potatoes and flour, enriched with Tomino cheese and served with Alpine butter or a cheese fondue. In the Valsesia area the traditional Miacce are very thin crispy wafers that lend themselves to infinite combinations, and the Torta di Alagna mixes sweet and salty in a blend of flavours typical of the nearby Swiss-German culture. Then there is the Uberlekke, a rich dish of boiled meats accompanied by potatoes, carrots and boiled turnips and served with horseradish sauce. 

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Excellent breads and secret recipes 

The Alpine and Walser tradition can be found in the nearby Verbano-Cusio-Ossola area in the local rye bread and Bettelmatt cheese which is produced in the mountain pastures of the Ossola valley. In the village of Coimo, in Val Grande, they made an ancient bread which accompanies the delicious Mortadella Ossolana. And in the poetic Val Vigezzo the women are the guardians of the ancient secret recipe for the Gnoch da la Chigiaà, the "gnocchi of the spoon" made with wheat flour and water. The same simple ingredients are used for the Sinchéet or Runditt which are dry sheets of dough that are mixed with salt and butter and cooked on a special stone or iron plate.

Red and white as well as aromatic wines

Of course no meal would be complete without wine and between Carema, Caluso and Piverone, around the city of Ivrea they produce the Docg Caluso, the Erbaluce, the Spumante Metodo Classico and the Passito as well as the Carema Doc and Nebbiolo. In the Susa Valley they cultivate  autochthonous grapes such as the Avanà, Becuet and Baratuciat and produce aromatic wines like the Vino del Ghiaccio which is a speciality of Chiomontel. The Pinerolese Doc is one of the red-berried wines produced between Bricherasio and Val Chisone, as are the Nebbiolo and the Doux d'Henry, the Ramie, the Avanà and the Chatus. Northern Piedmont also produces the excellent Prünent, an autochthonous black-berried grape, which is a clone of the Nebbiolo.

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