Wine tasting in Barolo last month reminded me that autumn in Piemonte is an excellent time of year. The days are cooler, the leaves begin to turn color, and the seasonal delights of the table begin to show up on menus and at festivals. I read a comment on a travel forum where the person wasn’t aware of how great Piemonte can be in the fall, so here are my absolute favorite things that makes me want to be there each year.
Bollito Misto at Osteria del Borgo
Neither of us are heavy meat eaters but when in Piemonte…in the fall…this is the place for undernourished carnivores. Bollito misto (mixed boiled meats) are served from a large cart along with 7 sauces: salsa verde, minced pickled vegetables, grape-based cugnà, onion jam, salsa rossa, horseradish, and mostarda.
The gold of piemontese gastronomy. Unfortunately, it’s a luxury that we can afford now and then. The International White Truffle Fair in Alba runs from October to November, drawing huge crowds in what I can only describe as truffle fever. We’re hoping the dachshund will come around and take to truffle-hunting instead of barking at cats or sleeping all day.
Nashi pears still aren’t very well-known in Italy, but 2 farms that cultivate them – Trybeca in Centallo and Azienda Frutticola Romanisio in Piozzo – sell nashi by the crate at fall fairs around the region. It’s also possible to stop in and purchase at the farms. The ‘Try’ variety is juicy and has a distinctly sweet flavor, while the Dely (in the box above) is better for longer storage. Every year we look forward to the drive out to Cuneo to bring back, at the very least, 4 flats of the largest size available of the variety Dely or Aki.
Il Potage di Monteu Roero
Another autumn tradition that I stumbled across a few years ago. Potage is a typical stewed dish of the Monteu Roero area, available on the menu of participating restaurants from mid-September to the end of December. It is made with meat, or chicken with bell peppers, or also cod, and is slowly cooked on top of a wood stove or potage (putagé in dialect), hence the name of the dish. This is served with soft polenta.
Again, one of Piemonte’s gifts to the italian table. A ‘hot bath’ of cooked garlic, anchovies and olive oil, perfect for dipping with a colorful variety of vegetables and fruit. There’s even a Bagna Cauda Day for enthusiastic fans of the pungent dish.