The region of Piedmont has been a hidden gem for foodies in the know for a while. Slowly, food and wine tours in Piedmont are gaining popularity and the region is considered as one of the best places to eat in Italy.
Piedmont boasts a large number of traditional foods that have earned prestige labels from the European Union signifying high quality and authenticity: DOP (Denominazione Origine Protetta) e IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta). Such cheeses as Toma Piemontese, Grana Padano, Taleggio, Robiola di Roccaverano are well known to gourmands all over the world. Then there are such delicacies as the white truffle of Alba, chestnuts from the Cuneo area, strawberries of Cuneo, hazelnuts from the Langhe area, and an array of artisanal cured meats. The world-famous pedigreed red wines Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco are produced in Piedmont, as well as the frivolous Asti Spumante.
The tradition-bound food of Piedmont is rich and hearty, featuring creamy sauces, plenty of butter, eggs and generous amounts of truffles. One of the most traditional starters is the famous bagna càuda: a warm sauce of garlic and anchovies drowned in olive oil and butter served with bread and raw vegetables. Pope Francis is said to be a big fan of bagna càuda. Agnolotti piemontesi, a type of ravioli meat and herbs, are delicious served with sage fried in butter. Wild rabbit, beef, veal and snails are marinated and cooked in red wine with spectacular results. Copiuos amounts of fresh herbs are used in almost every dish. The region is also famous for its excellent rice used for creamy risotto dishes, generally made with beans, sausages and, yes, truffles. Piedmontese desserts are also rich and make anyone drool: torta gianduia, a luscious chocolate cake made with ground hazelnuts instead of flour; baci di dama biscuits with a chocolate filling; mustaccioli biscuits made with red wine and spices.
The best places to try traditional food are trattoria and piola (osteria in the local dialect). However, in the last few years Piedmont has become famous for its modern take on the centuries-old cuisine. Restaurant Piazza Duomo in Alba serves ultra-modern dishes based on strictly local ingredients such as raw veal tartare with strawberries, suckling pig with juniper butter and hip rose, rabbit kidneys in Béarnaise sauce. Another innovative restaurant earned taking Piedmontese cuisine to provocative modern heights is Michelin-starred Combal.Zero where prosciutto and melon gelée is offered inside a hollowed-out book and sweets come with a Campari-filled balloon (Cyber-Elio Campari).That is why Piedmont can be considered as one of the best places to eat in Italy !
Photos by: Frans Schouwenburg, Ludovico Caldara, Wonsun.