Eat Like a Local in Piedmont: Raw Meat, Waffles and Chocolate Custard

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I continue a series of interviews about eating like a local in Italy (see the first post in the series about what to eat in Florence here).

A few years ago Federica Pollastri moved from Milan to a small town of Buriasco, a short drive from Turin, where she works in the logistics for a Swedish multinational. Federica co-writes blog Viaggi e Delizie where she shares her travel and gastronomic adventures.

federica2

Federica’s favourite local dishes: carne cruda (a Piemontese version of steak tartare made with hand-cut beef of fassona or albese breed), turkey salads, vegetable flan with bagna caoda or fondue, agnolotti del plin (pasta with a meat filling) and traditional dessert bunet (chocolate custard).

What is so special about these dishes? I was not familiar with this dishes until I moved to Piedmont in 2011 but after tasting them I fell in love. It astonished me that a gastronomic tradition completely different from what I was used to existed only 200km from Milan, where I was born and lived for 30 years. I embraced the cuisine of Piedmont with a great enthusiasm and even have become an expert at making bunet.

agnolotti piedmont

Where do you go to eat your favourite traditional dishes? Many of them I enjoy in my mother-in-law’s, who is an excellent cook; some local dishes I make at home. We also go to agriturismi and typical restaurants known for their traditional menu. I really like the local tradition of “merenda sinoira”, a long late afternoon snack, usually on Sunday, which consists of many starters, and replaces dinner. Perhaps, this tradition inspired aperitif that is so fashionable now.

What would be the best places to eat like a local in the area where you live? To say that you eat well anywhere you go in Piedmont would be an exaggeration but there are many excellent place. For starters I would recommend “antipasti evenings” on Fridays in Trattoria Val Pellice in San Secondo di Pinerolo, in the province of Turin or Locanda Bric e Bas in Bricherasio. For a great lunch in Turin I would recommend La Polpetteria Norma which serves many varieties of delicious meatballs or E’ cucina with its very original menu. Quanto Basta in Turin is very good if you want to try local specialties as well as some modern dishes with traditional ingredients.

gofri pI have recently discovered gofri, a specialty of Val Chisone. They are large waffles filled with cheese, prosciutto or, for a sweet version, with chocolate, jam. Look out for a food track Io Mangio Gofri run by Marzia e Erica who make excellent waffles inspired by recipes of their grandmother Nina.

Check out recipes for traditional dishes of Piedmont that Federica loves here (all in English): carne cruda, bunet and agnolotti del plin.

Photos by Viaggi e Delizie, Io Mangio Gofri.

 

7 Comments

  1. karenincalabria on

    Hmm… I’ll take the pasta, chocolate custard and waffles, but the raw meat is something I have a little trouble swallowing – literally. But it looks as though you’ve really melded with the culture and you’re enjoying some great dishes, which is great!

  2. When I first moved to Turin I wasn’t crazy about the concept of raw meat. I had it one day at my future mother-in-law’s place dressed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, slices of celery and parmesan shavings and I loved it. It really is delicious. The important thing is to go to a butcher you really trust and explain that you intend to consume the meat this way. That way, you’ll get the leanest and tenderest meat possible.

    • karenincalabria on

      Yes, I can’t remember the preparation the one time I tried it because I was concentrating on choking down the gristly mouthfuls. As you say, if it was tender, I would have been able to concentrate more on the flavor. As I recall, that was near Rome. I’ll have to make a trip to Turin to give it another chance.

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