In many societies today I hear more and more people talking about how their jobs are so demanding that they only have time to quickly grab something from the kiosk parked right outside their office to bring back to their desk so they can eat while they are working. Fast paced life has people now eating and drinking on the go. Gigantic coffee mug in the car on the way to work, no good. The more convenient this world is becoming the time to escape from the everyday stress is become harder to separate from, great example smart phones. The most important thing people are quickly forgetting is the importance around the dinner table. When there is a meal to share this table will bring people together, this table entices conversations for people to take a few hours out of their day to interact with their friends and families. This table is like an Island away from the stress of everyday, and is quickly being forgotten. This table is something very important to Italian lifestyle and no matter how much the world is changing this Island will always bring people together to enjoy the time spent together, a glass of wine, and something wonderful to eat.
When you come to Piemonte one thing that must be respected is the time for lunch. Your body needs to be replenished, nourished and at lunchtime is the perfect time to do so. Piemonte has a culture of the locals stopping their workday around noon, sometimes a group from work will plan to go to have lunch together at the local Trattoria or Osteria and there they will sit and enjoy until they need to be back to work around 2pm. Typically this lunch will consist of a glass of wine, a starter followed by a plate of homemade pasta. Nothing fancy but just enough time to relax, socialize, and get away from some everyday stress.
When you come to Piemonte here the home of Slow Food movement, the movement that has helped to preserve some of the food traditions that were in danger of going extinct. You come to a place that understands patience, has less stress, and knows how to enjoy the better things in life. I must admit here in Piedmont you eat very well. We actually say amongst each other that, it is hard to find a place to eat that is not good. With that said some of my favorite dishes from the area are: Vitello Tonnato thinly sliced roast beef with a mayo-tuna sauce. I know this combination sound weird but I swear once you try it you will be craving it when you return back home. Pepperoni ripieni con salsica di Bra, roasted peppers filled with sausage from Bra, the sausage from Bra is a specialty around this area. Made from 100% veal and specially seasoned with spices this sausage is typically eaten raw. Cipiola Ripiena this is a baked in salt whole onion that they take and hollow out add cheese and typically sausage to the onion, mash it all up then put it back into the onion skin. So good. Pasta Agnilotti del Plin a hand pinched small ravioli filled with a mixture of meats and green vegetables. The sauce for these ravioli typically are a butter and sage or the jus from the roasted meat. Tajarin, this is Piemontese for Tagliatele a hand cut pasta made with eggs. Typically for every kilo of flour you use you will need 40 egg yolks for this dough. The sauces for this pasta are either a sausage ragu or butter and freshly shaved white truffle. Yum! The beef here is a special breed called Fassone, that does not tend to get fatty. So you can easily eat it raw or when you sear a steak medium rare you can cut through it like butter. Just some salt and oil and that’s it. Save room for dessert because when you get a fresh Panna Cotta there really is nothing like it.
While you are here you might as well tuck yourself in for a nice meal, some good company, and of course some excellent wines. A short list of some of my favorite places to eat the foods I have mentioned earlier are:
Osteria I Rebbi - Monforte d’Alba
Osteria Veglio - La Morra
La Cantinetta – Barolo
Trattoria dei Bercau – Verduno
Osteria dell’Arco – Alba
Degusto – Neive
Ristorante Repubblica di Perno – Monforte d’Alba
Ristorante Casina Collavini – Costigliole d’Asti
You will probably find me at one of these places on my lunch break!
If you would like to make some of these traditional dishes at home you can look at Gianni's cooking blog at DoSomethingGood