Valtellina Cuisine: Top Dishes and Specialties to Try
Italian dishes are world-renowned, but little do tourists know about the large variety of cuisines in different regions of Italy. Valtellina cuisine is one of the special and unique cuisines that are incomparable to the rest of the country. The cuisine was developed in the Northern Italy, in the Lombardy province, where cows and farm animals are free to run around the beautiful, green pastures and fields and where there are totally unique sets of cheeses, wines and meat. Many locals and enthusiasts of the cuisine claim that the food gives you a sense of home and comfort - particularly in the cold, winter months where temperatures drop and all you want is some nice comfort food to warm you up. Our hotel in the Italian Alps creates these delicious Valtellina dishes (like Sciatt and Pizzoccheri) in our restaurant menu. after a long hike in the most beautiful areas in the Italian Alps, relax and feel at home when you eat dinner at our Italian restaurant full of Valtenese delicacies.
“Developed in the Alpine conditions of Northern Italy”
Northern Italy is an idyllic, mountainous landscape, where you can gaze upon the snowy peaks of the alps, walk by the vineyards and even catch a glimpse of some of the rare flora and fauna that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Northern Italy is truly a feast for the eyes due to its natural beauty - but it is also a true feast for the stomach due to the mouth-watering cuisine developed in the Alpine conditions of Northern Italy.
If you want to try comforting and genuine Northern Italian cuisine, then give Valtellina cuisine a go - but what characterises the cuisine? The staple Valtellina ingredient is the buckwheat grain, it is a grain that is widespread and prominent in the region. This grain staple lead to the invention of different foods where buckwheat is incorporated in almost every recipe. The grain creates a darker and more flavoursome pasta as seen in Pizzoccheri, a well-known Valtellina recipe.
Other famous ingredients that characterises Valtellina cuisine are the unique butter, milks and cheeses - and even the cured beef in this region. If you want to learn more about the ingredients and the Valtellina dishes, then read below to find out the top five specialties in the Valtellina region.
‘Sciatt’, named after the Valtenese word for ‘toad’, are buckwheat cheese-filled fritters typically eaten as a small, delicious appetiser. Again, due to the prominence of buckwheat in the region, this dish features the use of buckwheat flour to create a dark brown colour after it has been fried. The gooey cheese inside is typically made from ‘Casera’ cheese, a Valtellina cheese that is used in many other famous dishes such as Pizzoccheri. On the side, it is served with cabbage or even a bed of chickpeas depending on one’s preference.
Pizzoccheri is an iconic dish, it features a gloriously chewy and flavoursome buckwheat pasta with the creamy Casera cheese from the same region. The locals hold great pride over this dish probably due to how delicious and satisfying the dish is. The buckwheat pasta is typically handmade through rolling and cutting it in a traditional fashion, and then combined with the unique cheese of Valtellina. It is then served with local vegetables such as potatoes and cabbage, then topping it off with sage butter. Pizzoccheri della Valtellina is finely made in our Alpine hotel, and like the locals, we take great pride in this traditional recipe.
Bresaola is an authentic plate of the finest, cured meat from the valleys of Valtellina. You cannot get real Bresaola from anywhere else but selected master butchers in the Lombardy region due to protection by the IGP trademark. In comparison to other cured beefs, Bresaola is very lean, which means that the fat is removed before the curing process. After the removal of fat, it is seasoned with aromatic spices such as salt, cinnamon, garlic, juniper berries and black pepper. Then once it is cured, the meat becomes a dark, wine red colour demonstrating its flavoursome character, a lot more aromatic than its prosciutto counterparts. The most common meat used is bresaola beef, but alternatives also include venison and horse meat. Interested to try Bresaola cured beef? Try our ‘Mountain Platter’ on the Albergo Miramonti menu - it is absolutely fantastic.
The Valtellina Casera, considered to be one of the national excellences in regards to cheeses in Italy, is a cheese developed from traditional alpine methods from the region. Casera cheese is made from local semi-skimmed cows milk and can be left for up to 70 days to mature. The taste is said to be unique, featuring a high-quality cheese that has tastes and scents from the mountains - with aromatic notes of mountain herbs and dried fruit - truly making it a cheese from the alps. Valtenese cuisine isn’t complete with these traditional alpine cheeses, many dishes such as Sciatt and Pizzoccheri make Casera cheese the ‘star of the show’ for its beautiful creamy, delicious flavour. The cheese is very versatile, you could eat it alone, with bread or even with good, fresh vegetables. When stopping by Lombardy, make sure you get your hands on this iconic cheese.
Cascading the Valtellina valleys are vineyards - Chiavennasca grapes (the local name for Nebbiolo grapes) are flourishing, it is a grape that has been cultivated since the Etruscan times. It follows a procedure in which the Chiavennasca grapes are collected and dried for about 100 days, and then converted into wine. The wine is then matured for about 2 years, creating an intense and rich flavour, with notes of prune, chocolate, tobacco and spices - but of course it depends on the age and the interpretation of the individual user. One of the most renowned producers of this wine is Nino Negri, which won the ‘Best Italian Red Wine’ in 2001 by Gembero Rosso. Therefore, when you buy your bottle of Nino Negri Sfursat wine, you know that you will be drinking quality wine made by passionate winemakers. This wine is another pride for the Valtellina region, bringing this rural, countrysides of Northern Italy to the world stage. Our hotel restaurant sells this magnificent wine in our menus.
We hope that this article has provided you a plethora of knowledge about Valtellina cuisine - so that the next time you visit Lombardy in Northern Italy, you could try one of these delicious, iconic dishes and specialties to satisfy your craving. If you are touring the Italian alps, come stay or have a meal at our Alpine hotel in Corteno Golgi, we have carefully curated and created every single one of our dishes to keep you happy in whatever dish you order - and this includes these famous Valtellina dishes.
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