There were so many local chestnut events this past Sunday that we could’ve done a veritable tour of festivals from as early as morning Mass and well into the night. But sometimes the only way to choose between depends on what’s being served, naturally, and this time around the menu lured us toward Coimo in the Verbania province of Piemonte. Coimo’s bakers make a very rustic-looking pane nero (black bread), a dark and solid loaf that served as sustenance during winter months of long ago.
The castagnata drew a big crowd of families that were already present when we arrived at noon. The two big draws are polenta and grilled meats – LOTS of it. Steaming yellow mounds of polenta were dished up in a variety of ways, and ribs, chicken and sausages sizzled over a makeshift grill that measured at least 15 feet long by 5 feet wide. On top of that, various stalls sold local food products. We picked up a round of black bread (plain) and a smaller one with nuts and raisins. This stuff demands a persistent jaw! Flavorwise it’s very simple, maybe a tad on the salty side, with a slightly burnt taste. I can imagine this broken into chunks and served with a thick soup of beans and smoked ham shanks. The only item that I was not able to taste was a type of crepe or thin pancake called amiasc (ah-mee-ahsh). Made from a batter of both plain and buckwheat flour and water, it is cooked on a hot griddle and served with melted butter. Unfortunately it’s something that you eat later in the afternoon and the 4pm hour was too late for us to stick around. All in all it was a well-organized castagnata, one that we wouldn’t mind visiting again. http://www.castagnata.com