Valle d’Aosta on the Table
The smallest region of Italy, the beautiful Aosta Valley, is situated in the Alpine region of north-western Italy, nestled between France and Switzerland.
Apart from the region’s breath-taking scenery, snowy mountain peaks, amazing wildlife, and crystal clear lakes, its local food has influences from the gastronomic traditions of France and Switzerland.
Valle d’Aosta: the Region
Valle d’Aosta has a mix of cultural, linguistic and culinary influences obtained from its bordering countries which are France and Switzerland. Diverse people and cultures have left their influences on the region’s medieval cathedrals and quaint castles.
Up and until this day, Aosta valley hosts settlers from various communities outside Italy. As small as it is, this region is one of the most famous centres of Italy.
Of its many attractions, you will find that it is home to Italy’s first national park with some of world’s greatest imposing peaks, such as the: Cervino, Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso and the Mont Blanc, they are indeed some of the highest peaks in the Alps.
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe, which measures a staggering 15,781 feet. The oldest national park, the Gran Paradiso, is nestled comfortable between the mountains and valleys; it is a perfect place to view animals in their natural habitat, and a pleasure to see ibex, chamois, eagles and marmots right before your eyes.
The Aosta Valley, a long time ago has been considered to be a land of contact between Italy and France; Gran San Bernardo’s great modern tunnels that run through to France are a classic example of existing connections between Italy and the rest of Europe.
Traditional Food of the Aosta Valley
According to tradition, the people of Valle d’Aosta were skilled hunters and farmers, and this is evident in the excellence and variability of their food products. They made different types of bread and pasta with rye or chestnut flour, which was the base ingredient in various cold-weather soups.
Typifying the regional food of the Aosta Valley, it is a perfect composition of hearty, creative and fine selected authentic flavours. Two unmissable regional specialties to try are the Carbonada: which is a ‘stewed saltcured beef’ with a mix of wine, onions, spices, and mocetta: a dried beef dish which is seasoned with the aromatic mountain herbs.
Meat was an important facet in the cuisine of Valle d’ Aosta, mainly due to their local hunting tradition. Most of their food preparations have a touch of French influence, meat cooked with a rich mix of onion, wine and herbs. There is a fantastic variety of quality cheeses here in the Aosta valley.
Some of the most prominent ones are the: Fromadzo DOP, the Reblec, and the Séras. Many would agree that the finest is the Fontina DOP, a cow’s milk cheese that originates from the valley, which is used for many other traditional recipes, Fondue is one of them.
Fondue is typically served before or after the traditional Aosta Valley soup made with savoy cabbage, Fontina cheese and stale rye bread. Polenta is also quite a popular dish here and is often served with melted cheese. Chnéf-fléne is yet another traditional Alpine dish where its main ingredient is cheese; melted over dumplings made with flour and milk.
Another delicacy of the region is Salami. Mocetta is unique regional salami prepared with beef or chamois, or ibex (a species of wild goat). The famous Arnad Lard is cooked with boiled potatoes, seasoning and ham. This spicy cured pork, labelled the Valé d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses, has been awarded the PDO (European Union Protected designation of Origin) status.
Fresh fruit and nuts are also grown in the here and it is a perfect way to end a meal. The famous Martin pears, walnuts, chestnuts, Rennet apples as well as aromatic honey are all locally produced and available. Microclimates created by the high mountains and the atmosphere, provide the perfect place for producing wine.
The region produces up to 20 different types of wine, including the: Arnad Montjovet, the Enfer d’Arvier, the Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle and the Donna. The region is also famous for its Genépy des Alpes, an extraordinary herb liqueur which is traditionally drunk out of a wooden goblet.