Tag Archives: festa

Take-out tripe stew? No problem!

Quick question: how many of you are on such good terms with your local pharmacist that the thought of dropping off a food storage container is as nonchalant as filling a prescription?

Please allow me to explain, but first, a morning stroll up in the mountains this past Sunday. Of the few sunny days that August has brought us, this one in the neighboring village of Sogno made up for the dismal conditions earlier in the week. Back off you dank weather!

Sunday in Sogno

Everything looked that much brighter, vibrant, fresh – even this breadbox (pane/bread) used for home delivery service. I’ve seen other bread bins/baskets and if there isn’t one, delivery leaves the paper sack out on the windowsill. This is the only one with pane written on it.


Getting back on topic, we don’t know our pharmacist personally but she sets, no, she IS, an example of how unbelievably mellow life can be within a small community. At the annual Alpini festival in Sogno this past Saturday, we ordered tripe stew to go and it didn’t occur to us that there might be a problem in packing it securely. How far do you live? It’s a small bowl; it could spill. One of the servers – the pharmacist – swooped right in and said she would see if she could find a solution. Minutes later out she comes holding a bulky package wrapped tightly in foil. It looked like it contained more than 2 bowls of trippa and a plate of pasta.

A big bowl of tripe stew

We get home, peel off the layers of foil, and find a lidded bowl with enough tripe stew to feed not 2, but at least 4 people. Then we open the plate of pasta (it had another plate as its lid) and marvel that it’s a very generous helping of casoncelli pasta.

A big plate of casoncelli

Not bad for 12.50€, but compared to the Alpini lunch and dinner from 3 years ago, this was just a teaser. Our intention was to return the container after Sunday’s walk but as the place was crowded with Alpini and churchgoers, we were left with option #2. Upon handing us our meal the night before, the pharmacist had said, “If you can’t bring the bowl back on Sunday, no problem. Just bring it to me at work!”


Festa della Peirbuieira in Rocca Grimalda

Lasagne nella Peirbuieira

Rocca Grimalda Festa 2013Lasagne, beans, and a whole lot of pungent garlic. Not the ideal mix if carbonated water is the only “gas” that you have at a table, but I’ve been wanting to attend this hugely popular piemontese event for a long time and let me tell you, it was well worth the wait! It ranks as one of the most popular summer festivals in the Alessandria province, pulling in hundreds of visitors on the evening of each night it’s held.

Tip: if you want to be seated on time, ARRIVE EARLY, especially if you’re in a large group. We’ve come to expect crowds at these sort of things but we weren’t quite prepared to see so many parked cars upon arrival at 6:15pm. That’s 45 minutes before they opened (7pm), and when we reached the festival grounds there was a pretty good-sized line to the cashier and a longer line to get in. A big menu board was propped on a table along with a stack of menus. Grab a menu (good to have a pen handy), check off the items, and pay at the cashier. Get into the entrance line and hopefully if you arrived early enough, they’ll let you in. When the communal-style dining tables are full, they won’t let anymore in unless a space clears up. We were lucky, but those arriving late had a long wait.

Every dish ordered comes with a ticket, and food servers stop by to pick them up to fill your order. There was a guy going around (he had cassa volante – flying till – written on his tshirt), taking more orders from anyone who wanted to add extra dishes to their meal. We ordered everything from primi to contorni, but the following dishes are worth a mention.

Polenta con sugo di funghi e salsiccia

Polenta with mushroom and sausage sauce. They must have a secret spice mix because this tasted way better than what I expected. When we mentioned it to our b&b host, she said that it’s one of the typical dishes of the area.

Arrosto del Folklore

Veal cutlet in a kind of cream-based sauce is all I can make out. MotH says that foods with the word folklore attached denotes something traditional.

Viva gli Alpini!

This summer is going down as the one where we did some serious eating from one meal to the next. Let’s see…bbq with the neighbors at our place on August 15th (Ferragosto holiday), Slow Food dinner in Bergamo’s alps 2 days later, that gelato obsession of July, and just when I thought there was nothing else to dig into, here come the alpini (italian mountain brigade) with food, drink and fun at their annual Festa Alpina. We’ve been to only one of these gigs in the past but I can tell you this…if there is any dining experience to be had that is real value for the money and run with spot-on efficiency, I would bet my vintage Mickey Mouse watch that Alpini do it BETTER.

Mixed grilled meats, tripe stew, agoni (dried, salted lake fish), bread and a bottle of local red: 19.50€.

pranzo-alpino-sognoThis festa was organized by the Alpini of Sogno. We had a quick bite to eat (above image) on Saturday night, then made reservations for the following day when they were having the alpine Sunday lunch! Click on the menu at left – 20€ for a whole lot of food with room for seconds if you could manage it. There were plates being brought out that weren’t even on the menu such as nervetti e fagioli and insalata russa. Pitchers of both red and white wines kept reappearing as soon as they were emptied. Old-timers were singing, young alpini brought out the victuals, and at one point (actually more than once), a really ancient-looking guest with a beard abruptly stood up and shouted Viva gli Alpini!!!

Vino e affettati

Wine, nervetti salad and a 12-inch plate (for each person!) covered in both cured and cooked prosciutto, pancetta and salame. All of it scrumptious.

Bergamo-style casoncelli and porcini risotto

Casoncelli alla bergamasca and risotto with porcini. The casoncelli are stuffed with a mixture of bread crumbs, parmigiano, beef, pork, parsley, raisins and amaretti. Served in melted butter. So incredibly good, and they even offered second helpings.

Stuffed roast beef

Thin slices of stuffed roast beef/beef roll. The stuffing was an omelette with herbs and there were more plates coming out with just roast beef. French fries came as a side dish. I admit that my american tastebuds missed the Worcestershire and ketchup at this point.

Gelato and music

Next came a huge plate of assorted local cheese and finally the sweet finish – gelato on fruit salad with a wafer cookie. Throughout the meal, a brass ensemble swung into a lively gig for “intermission” (how else are you supposed to stretch it out to a 3-hour+ meal?). No eating and running with these guys. And you must drink grappa to authenticate the experience. Funniest thing heard when more roast beef was being offered to elderly alpini seated next to us: Mangia! Mangia! E’ un ordine! Eat! Eat! It’s an order!