20 Steps to Becoming an Italian Foodie: Piedmont


piedmont

The name Piedmont comes from Latin and it means “at the foot of the mountains”

Piemonte is located in the Northwest of Italy. It has borders on France and Switzerland, and is surrounded by the Alps. Wonderful winter sporting activities can be played here, and warm weather sites can be seen here.

The history of the region goes back to before the Roman period, and like most other areas of Italy, went thru the hands of several other ruling forces before finally setting into the Kingdom of Italy. In fact, Piedmont was the capital of Italy before it was moved to Florence and finally settled in Rome.

The Duchy of Savoy was established in the 17th century and was in place, with some disturbances from the likes of Napoleon, until the unification of Italy and the transfer of the capital to Florence in 1864.

The modern Piemonte of today is the second largest region in Italy and is a hub of intellect and technology.

What You Should See There

Piedmont

Turin is located in front of Susa Valley and surrounded by the western Alpine arch

The capital of Piedmont is Torino, location of the 2006 Winter Olympic games. Turin is a great jumping off place as it offers many interesting sites, such as the Fiat factory, a very comprehensive Egyptian Museum, a museum on film and film history and the nearby Venaria Reale. Also, some consider Torino most famous for the Holy Shroud, which is located here, as well.

Outside of Torino, there is a whole region still to discover. First there is Lake Maggiore, the second largest lake in Italy that boasts the charming tourist town of Stresa and its nearby Boromean Islands. Next there is Lake Orta, while significantly smaller, an equally charming jewel of a lake, boasting beautiful accommodations and Michelin starred restaurants. Then there is the wide world of the countryside and all of its small, charming towns.

What You Should Eat There

Piedmont was always the dream destination I held in my back pocket for a travel time “to be determined.” In the Fall of 2009, I made my dream a reality. Piedmont was one of those rare and fantastic occasions when reality exceeds your expectations. I rented a car and drove thru the undulating hills of vineyards.

Pears with Parmiggiano Reggiano and shaved truffle

Pears with Parmiggiano Reggiano and shaved truffle

Being fall, it was that magical time of year when the leaves are changing, and the harvest is taking place. Everything was covered in lovely reds, yellows and oranges, and there was a buzz in the air.  Not only is this the time of the harvest – it is Truffle Time. Those magical months when the white truffle of Alba appears everywhere you turn your head.  And for a small fortune, it can be shaved on top of every dish you order. Be sure to wash it down with some of the best wines in the world: Barolo (the King of Wines), Barbaresco, or my personal favorite, Barbera.

Oh yeah, there is another culinary wonder that comes from this region: chocolate. Mamma Mia, the wonders being done with chocolate. And cheese.

Bring Piedmont to Your Kitchen Table

Fresh Tajarin and shaved truffles on to

Beef fillets cooked with butter and then covered in truffle shavings

For the Piedmont region, Eataly gave me two regional products: Lurisia La Nostra Gazzosa Lemon soda,  a very refreshing soda, you could tell that it was natural, not a lot of additives, and white truffles.

I have a special place in my heart for truffles. Any truffles in general, white truffles in particular. When that oh-so-particular smell wafts thru the air, my nose goes up like a Bloodhound. Truffles are a very particular food. You either love them or hate them.  I just happen to love them.

That said, I have never had them in my own home, let alone cooked with them. Until now, they were reserved for a special occasion at a restaurant. Minimal research led me to a multitude of ideas. Being as the truffle was (generously) large, I had the pleasure to make several different dishes with mine. The first was just a light snack: pears with Parmiggiano Reggiano and shaved truffle. Delicious. Then, I went for a dinner covered in the golden goose egg: Fresh Tajarin (purchased at Eataly) cooked and then sauteed in a homemade sauce consisting of butter, Parmiggiano and chicken broth – then shaved truffles on top.  Then a second course of beef fillets cooked with butter and then covered in truffle shavings. My final use of the truffles was at breakfast. I made a 2 egg omelette and shaved the truffles over that, too. 24 hours of truffle decadence!

@ItalyFoodies: Join Our Discussion- What’s Your Take

1. Where are you from in Piemonte? Describe your home region.

2. What would you make with truffles?

3. What is your ideal meal?

 

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