Salami and Cheese
Monferrato boasts a large variety of artisan salami, among which the raw salami, made of pork, wild boar or donkey meat, natural or seasoned with wine or truffle; traditional “lardo” and bacon; also the typical sausage, that is really good to be eaten as raw. However the most characteristic one is the “Salame Cotto” – Cooked Salami, in fact the local producers found an Association, in order to valorize and protect them. The peculiarities of these cured meats are the use of selected ingredients and the traditional processing methods, together with the secrets and the originality of each producer, that personalize and makes unique each of them. You cannot miss cheese too, mainly the fresh variety, produced with cow or goat milk. We have to mention the “Robiola di Cocconato” (Robiola cheese from Cocconato), a cow milk round cheese, soft and delicate, that takes name from the area of production, which is also famous for a particular variety of “Prosciutto Crudo” (Raw Ham).
The queen of local farms is the pregiate Piedmontese bovine race called Fassone, celebrated on the tables and during some historical fairs that take place each year in this territory. The cuts of its meat are used to prepare roasts, braised meats and the famous “Fritto Misto alla Piemontese” (“Piedmontese Mixed Fried”). But the best way to appreciate this tender, light and tasty meat is eating it as raw, bitten by knife, according to the tradition in Monferrato. And after 5 or 6 years spent in the stable, cuddled and nourished, Fassone becomes “Bue Frasso” (the “Fat Ox”); the village of Moncalvo dedicates to it an important Fair since 400 years about. Its most tender cuts and tasty gives life to the rich “Bollito Misto alla Piemontese” (“Piedmontese Mixed Boiled”) matched with the traditional gravies. About the white meat, there are the “Gallina Bionda” from Villanova d’Asti, with its delicate and versatile meat, used for making salads and filling “agnolotti” fresh pasta. In the area of San Damiano d’Asti there is the precious Capon, perfect for a tasty soup or a different roast.
Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables are cultivated in the flat areas, near the many streams and rivers that cross Monferrato; the most important are pumpkin, squash, pepper, Savoy cabbage, thistle, asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke. Among the fruits, there are strawberry, cherry, peach, apple, pear, plum, walnut and chestnut.
The “Nocciola Piemonte IGP” hazelnut
A special mention for the Piedmontese hazelnut, so-called “Tonda Gentile”, considered as the best one among the 70 kinds of hazelnuts existing on the global market. It represents an important excellence of Monferrato, especially in the area of Castellero, the village already included in the list of Italian “cities of hazelnut”. This town dedicated to the hazelnut a thematic path and a famous fair that takes place each year in October. Using these hazelnuts the local bakeries make not only traditional sweets, as cakes and cookies, but also bread, breadsticks and flat breads; you cannot miss the rare “Nocciolio”, the delicate oil produced pressing the hazelnuts after a short roasting.
Pasta and sweets
Monferrato is a place of temptation for all the gluttons. The fresh pasta is important, as “agnolotti”, the squared fresh pasta filled up with meat, and “tajarin”, prepared using “otto file” sweet corn flour. The same flour is also used to make the “meliga” cookies and cornmeal mush paired to sausage, stews and cheese. In addition, the honey is common in this territory, especially acacia’s one, used with the hazelnut to prepare the nougat.
The real jewel of gastronomy in Piedmont is the Truffle, especially the precious White Truffle that appears on the tables from October to January for the happiness of gourmets. This product is the protagonist of many legends and traditions that continue to live thanks to the “trifulao”, the truffle hunters, and the numerous fairs dedicated to it organized in this territory.