Piedmont is famous for its cuisine and wines: even within the wonderful oeno-gastronomic panorama of Italy it enjoys a well-deserved reputation. Its sub regions of Langhe and Monferrato represent a truly hidden gem, calling as the magic voice of a mermaid gourmets from all over the world to taste their specialties. Describing in just a few lines the abundance and the excellence that their cuisines offer to the traveller, would be too simplistic and perhaps unfair to it. The only solution is to join the team of Taste MY Italy for a full immersion in the food and wines of Langhe and Monferrato. But let’s see on a bird’s eye what you can expect.
A huge variety of appetizers
A great starting point is found in appetizers, one of the many points of excellence of Langhe gastronomy for what concerns quantity and quality, for the richness of flavours and the simple ingredients used.
Let’s start talking about great charcuterie boards loaded with local cold cuts, ranging from homemade salami including the salame cotto, boiled salami, thinly sliced lardo (cured pork fat) that melts in your mouth, air-cured pork meat and up to the delicious raw ham of Cuneo.
As we continue through the appetizers, the choice becomes more and more difficult: you can try the carne cruda all’albese, Alba’s style raw meat, traditional beaten with a knife, which in the fall season must be paired with the traditional grating of white truffle of Alba, the capital city of the Langhe. A big favourite of all seasons is vitello tonnato, thinly sliced veal under a blanket of velvety tuna sauce.
As an appetizer you can get a frittata d’erbe, a green omelette with wild herbs or spinach, and the excellent flan of seasonal vegetables served with a warm cheese fondue. The local variety of sweet bell peppers is accompanied by different sauces like bagnèt verde, green sauce with parsley, or bagnèt ross, red sauce with tomatoes. These irresistible sauces are also used to veil cured anchovies, which seem to melt in the mouth. You’ll be also offered insalata russa, a dish of small diced cooked vegetables with green peas in a homemade mayonnaise, or the so called tonno di coniglio, rabbit prepared like tuna in olive oil: don’t miss the opportunity to taste them.
When visiting in autumn and winter months, try the bagna cauda, a sauce made with a lot of garlic and anchovies, served as a cheese fondue in the middle of the table and kept warm by a little stove fuelled by a candle. You can dip cooked or raw vegetables in it in a very social convivial moment.
Rich pastas and risottos
The great variety of first courses will make your choice difficult. Try the small ravioli del plin with butter and sage, or tajarin with meat sauce. Tajarin are fresh egg pasta noodles made with 30 egg yolks for each kilo of wheat. Their flavour is enhanced by sauces made with mushrooms, butter and truffle, meat or gravy. Agnolotti or ravioli “del plin” are a small pasta envelope containing different fillings, ranging from braised meat to vegetables. Their name comes after the typical pinch needed to close them. Try them in a cup of warm and rich meat broth topped up with a generous glass of Barolo. All the different kinds of risotto you will find on the menus are excellent, always enriched with wine until it evaporate and added with Castelmagno cheese and delicious green asparagus or wild mushrooms when in season.
Braised beef and stewed rabbit
In autumn, in the Langhe kitchens, the second course is a triumph of meat, especially beef of the Piedmontese variety called Fassona Piemontese, considered the queen of several dishes. One of these is the traditional gran bollito, typical of the village of Carrù. This recipe of boiled meat is rich and simple at the same time and according to tradition it involves 7 cuts of meat, 7 ornaments also of meat (tripe, head, tongue, etc.), 7 side dips called bagnèt, and 7 side dishes. Celebration of the Langhe cuisine comes along with the two all season’s great favourites: brasato al Barolo, slowly braised beef in Barolo wine, and coniglio all’Arneis or coniglio ai peperoni, rabbit stewed in white Arneis wine or with sweet bell peppers.
Cheese and sweets
The cheese trolley gives a good representation of the products of small cheese factories in the hills. You can sample a piece of toma, Raschera or Bra in different aging, Murazzano, which is made with sheep milk, robiola di Roccaverano and tomino, both soft cheeses, or many others, paired with cugnà (a chutney of red grapes and other fruits) or honey.
And finally the exceptional desserts, being the Langhe home to fabulous delights, ranging from the torta di nocciole, hazelnut cake made with the renowned hazelnut variety called tonda gentile di Langa, passing by the world famous panna cotta and reaching to the superb bonet, grandmother’s chocolate and amaretti cookies pudding.
All food tastes better if accompanied by a good pairing glass of wine. This is not a problem in the Langhe and Monferrato.
You will find a great variety of white wines made from indigenous varieties like Arneis, Cortese, Favorita and Moscato, the last one used to produce the famous Spumante d‘Asti, a festive sparkling wine, as well as a light sparkling sweet dessert wine.
Perhaps more famous are the excellent wines made with the local red grapes, like Barbera, Bonarda, Dolcetto, but above all His Majesty the Nebbiolo, the grape used to make the world well-known Barolo and Barbaresco wines.
Has this whetted your appetite to learn more and personally test the Langhe cuisine and wines?
Join us for one of our tours!