Sweet Cooking

Piemonte, Italy

In Just Good Food, Travel on June 14, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I’m back! We had an awesome vacation. Truly amazing in every possible way! And I am more inspired than ever to make great food. I have so much new blog material – I don’t know where to start! The first destination of our trip was Piemonte (which translates to “Piedmont” in English). We spent three wonderful nights in Santo Stefano Belbo – a quiet, little town in Northern Italy. And we ate well….

OMG, the pasta here is yellow! Really yellow!

In Piemonte, they use a higher ratio of egg yolk to flour which makes the pasta a beautiful bright gold color. It is so delicious that it is not necessary to overload it with sauces. The sauces here are very simple and used sparingly. There are 2 typical ways to serve pasta here. The first is a “Tajarin” – a super thin tagliatelli with either ragu, sage and butter, or olive oil and finely diced mushrooms. Speaking of mushrooms, there will be an entire post about truffles! I asked every person with whom I could communicate about making the pasta. I have a rough recipe, and I’m definitely going to give it a shot at home.

The second way they serve pasta is called “Agnioletti” – this is basically ravioli. It can be filled with meat (we saw rabbit, veal and pork and combinations of them all) or vegetables. The ravioli is tossed with either ragu or sage and butter. The portions of pasta are appetizer size (this is the first course of the meal). It’s about one cup of pasta and probably 1/8 cup of sauce. I was feeling guilty about all the carbs, but I just went with it. Sometimes you have to take one for the team. I am, after all, Italian now.

Here it is! Doesn't it look delicious?

Veal is definitely the most popular meat in this region. The meat comes from cows who live in the foothills of the Alps. They graze on natural grass and are never treated with any kind of antibiotics or chemicals. They serve veal in a variety of ways here, but our favorite by far was raw. I know some of you probably just gagged, but have an open mind…veal crudo (carne cruda) is just amazing. The flavor is delicate and rich and salty all at the same time. The ground veal is seasoned with salt and pepper and a drop of lemon juice. It’s served with a little bit of olive oil and that’s it.

Veal crudo. Try it. I wouldn't steer you wrong.

Hazelnuts – Hazelnuts are the second most farmed item in Piemonte (grapes being the first). Ferrero Rocher is based here, and they only use local hazelnuts for their chocolates. We saw a lot of hazelnut flavored food. My favorite was hazelnut gelato. There was also this amazing hazelnut cake/bread served at breakfast. I wish I thought to put some of that in my suitcase!

Hazelnuts are great just raw too.

All of our meals in Piemonte were delicious. If you’re interested in particular names and locations, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to share! Lastly, in an effort to not look like an obnoxious American tourist, I did not take my camera to every dinner. So in full disclosure, I did not take the photos in this post. I tried to photograph our food as much as possible while we were traveling, but it’s hard to be discreet and get a good shot. It’s much easier to steal one from the internet. I hope you don’t mind. The beautiful pasta photo came from www.theartichokeblog.com. The ravioli photo from www.piemonte-wine-tours.com. The veal www.miguelvecin.com. And lastly the hazelnuts: www.commons.wikimedia.org.

Bon Apetito!

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  1. oooh! i can’t wait to read all of your upcoming post about your trip. in particular your culinary experience – you took a class, right? i bet it was amazing.

  2. this is amazing! i can’t stop reading. the cooking class and all the interesting tidbits about the pasta. super cool.

    • Thanks! It was a great trip. I would love to do a pastry class in Paris….one day!

  3. You might end up teaching a pastry class in Paris one day! 🙂

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