If you’ve been reading the previous entries with a keen eye, you’ll have noticed a few french expressions peppered throughout my posts. Bordered by France to the west, Switzerland to the north, signs in two languages and the occasional glimpse of lavender fields, Valle d’Aosta can feel like you’re anywhere but Italy. Naturally, ça va sans dire that if your neighbors speak french then so do you, and the valdostani either have a good handle on the language or they speak it fluently. It made me think of our trip to Provence earlier this month, especially when we arrived at an agriturismo restaurant in Valle di Champorcher and the sign says Ouvert.
Situated along the Ayasse river and surrounded by lush forest, the agriturismo, at one time, was both watermill and sawmill. The owners did an impressive job of restoring the building into a place to relax and get in touch with nature, but since we were there only for Sunday lunch, be forewarned that this is going to be a food-laden, photo-heavy, and detailed post.
We made reservations not knowing that it was table d’hôte (aka menu fisso in Italy). The set menu was literally just that, as some of the antipasti were already in place when we arrived. Btw, lunch commenced at 1pm for all guests, which makes a lot of sense if serving the same thing to the whole room. Start counting.
Salignoùn or Salignon – of walser origin. It is a mixture of fresh ricotta, herbs and spices to be spread on bread or crackers.
Borage flan with a sauce of Bleu d’Aoste cheese – this was actually called sformatino which is a souffle-like dish but less airy. Bleu d’Aoste is not as piquant as roquefort, but possesses a pronounced flavor that added oomph to the borage flan.
A primo of saffron risotto with silene and a secondo of brasato di manzo (wine-braised beef) with polenta taragna. In between this was another primo – cream of nettle soup – that didn’t make it in front of the lens because I just wanted to dig in. Are you keeping count? That makes 8 dishes up to this point, and to think that we were offered second helpings of both!
La Brossa – produced from the residual liquid after making butter or cheese, it’s like a thin buttermilk. It’s also a traditional breakfast food served with polenta, but we were given some as a tasting. I love that they did this, introducing a typical local dish as a way of sharing part of their culture.
And to end the meal – blueberry cake and lemon balm bavarese with strawberries. I was so glad that these were in discreet portions because we were absolutely stuffed. And guess how much? Along with water, 1/2 carafe house red and coffee – 61€. If I were to make one small negative comment, it would be the coffee which was quite bitter (or otherwise burned). Other than that, this is one place worth a repeat visit for a big Sunday lunch.
One last thing…
Before lunch we made a stop in Torgnon (Valtournenche) to check out a Vespa and Topolino gathering. What a cute, cute automobile. The Topolino stole the show as all cameras focused on “the Mickey Mouse car”. Laissez les bons temps rouler!