Sagra della Patata

Oreno (Monza-Brianza) – only 45 minutes from ours and the location of the 25th celebration of the local potato (that by the way, has DOC status – controlled designation of origin). The festival, which runs for over a week in September each year, offers a rich program full of cultural events and entertainment but as is it usually happens we went with only one thing in mind: the food. Love the humble spud? Read on for a very spontaneous “grazing” experience that ended with a just dessert.

I should point out that there were 2 dining options on the Saturday morning that we went. One was to dine in the sit-down area (no dogs allowed) where you paid for your order and food was brought out to you. The other was an area of food booths where you could order at your own pace. We were stuck with the latter since the dogs were with us, but the main meal was preluded with a tasting plate at one of the town’s cafes.

Tasting plate at Cafè Lumiére

Cafe Lumiérecan I offer you a menu? Seriously, that is all these ears need to hear before ideas like cafe-hopping for drinks and nibbles start forming in my head. They had a special sagra menu (10€) that included a small plastic cup of wine plus coffee and biscotti. Delicious bites of potato gratin, cured meats, vegetable flan and pecorino. We each got one, seeing that I wasn’t going to share that small cup of wine.

Turta de Lacc

Turta de Lacc/torta di latte – milk cake. More than just nonna’s astute thriftiness at making use of stale bread, this pudding-like cake (2.50€ slice) was new to my ears and tastebuds and I appreciated the list of ingredients that was clearly posted for all to see. Milk, dry bread, amaretti, sugar, unsweetened chocolate, raisins and biscotti. It had the right amount of sweetness without being too cloying, and you could also buy whole cakes to take home.

Sagra della Patata

“Let’s get a plate of gnocchi.” That would be me talking, or rather my stomach while the aroma of potato dumplings and ragu bolognese invaded my defenseless nostrils. A plate of fluffy gnocchi (4€) cooked to order could do nothing but enhance the whole experience, no?

Sagra della Patata

The real discovery here was the potato gelato (2€) that I never would’ve imagined even with all the crazy flavor experiments that I concoct for myself at home. Tasted like the real thing, maybe a tad floury in texture although you could hardly argue that aspect of a potato. We both loved it, and also the other special flavor “torta paesana” which was chocolate with spices, nuts and a hint of citrus. If potato gelato seemed too far-fetched for the uninitiated, there were the usual flavors and fruit popsicles too. After that gelato revelation we headed over to the potato chip station where spiral cut chips were made to order. There’s nothing so comforting as a plain white bag filled with a tumble of hot and crispy chips (2.50€), enhanced with a sprinkling of salt. All hail the humble spud!

Potato gelato

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