Italian Food Wine Travel writers: you are invited! I am hosting our November event and we are looking at the wines from Piedmont and Aosta. I just wanted to get the invitation up ahead of our October event tomorrow so you'll have plenty of time to track down a wine and pair a dish.
The Piedmont, referred to by Italians as Piemonte, is located in the foothills of the Alps forming Italy's border with France and Switzerland. Most of the region's winemaking - approximately 90% - occurs in the southern part of Piedmont around the towns of Alba, Asti, and Alessandria.
The Piemonte wine region is divided into five broad zones - Canavese, Colline Novaresi, Coste della Sesia, Langhe, and Monferrato - with over forty DOCs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and nearly twenty DOCGs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).
The best-known wines from Piedmont include Barolo and Barbaresco, both made from the Nebbiolo grape. Other popular grapes, used for red wine production in the region, are Barbera and Dolcetto.
In August 2017, the group looked at wines of the Italian Alps. I paired Beef & Barolo, Two Piedmontese Darlings. And in April 2021, I poured multiple bottles of Piedmontese Barbera in Exploring a Few Bottles of Barbera Plus Wild Boar Tamales + 2018 Cascina San Lorenzo Barbera.
The Asti Spumante, a sparkling wine in the region, is made from the Moscato grape; Brachetto is another variety used for making sweet, sparkling red wines.
Back in June 2017, when the group looked at sweet wines, I posted From Start to Finish with Brachetto. And in April 2020, we looked specifically at Brachetto. I paired Stracotto di Manzo al Vino Rosso + Brachetto d'Acqui.
Aosta Valley (Valle d'Aosta) is Italy's tiniest and least populated region at just one-eighth the size of neighboring Piedmont. Aosta lies in a mountainous corner of Italy's far northwest, where the country's borders collide with those of France and Switzerland. The region is widely influenced by its French neighbors and French is the official second language.
Despite the region's size, a wide range of red and white wines are made in the area - from both native and introduced grape varieties. Nearly seventy-five percent of the wines are produced by cooperative wineries that include nearly five hundred grower members.
Most of the vineyards in the Aosta Valley lie on the steep, south-facing slopes above the Dora Baltea River, a tributary of the Po. Some of the grapes live at an altitude of over four thousand feet above sea level! The most widely grown grapes are Picotendro, the local form of Nebbiolo; along with Chardonnay, Gamay, and Dolcetto. Morgex et de la Salle is home to some of Europe's highest vineyards.
Back in November 2015, the group explored Valle d'Aosta and I posted Pluot-Glazed Duck Legs and Les Cretes Torrette 2011. It appears that that is the only pairing I've ever done. So, this month will be full of fun explorations for us.
How to Participate
Details for participation
Are you ready to jump in and participate in the November #ItalianFWT event? Here are the details…
Send an email to tell me you're in or post in the Facebook event group: Include your blog url and X (formerly Twitter) handle. If you know your blog post title now, include that...but you can send me that a bit closer to the event, I'd like to get a sense of who's participating and give some shoutouts and links as we go. The email is culinarycami[at]gmail[dot]com. Send your post title to me by Monday, October 30th, to be included in the preview post. I will do a preview post shortly after getting the titles, linking to your blogs. When your post goes live, the published title should include "#ItalianFWT" but it doesn't need to be included for the title list. Publish your post between 12:01 a.m-7:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, November 4th...at the latest. You can always schedule your post in advance if you will be tied up around then. And publish on Friday, November 3rd if that works better for your editorial calendar. Include a link to the other #ItalianFWT participants in your post. I'll provide the html code you can easily put in your initial post--which will link to people's general blog url--then updated code for the permanent links to everyone's #ItalianFWT posts. Get social! After the posts go live, please visit your fellow bloggers posts' to comment and share. Sponsored posts OK if clearly disclosed. Please be sure to disclose if your post is sponsored or if you are describing wine or other products for which you have received a free sample. Live #ItalianFWT X (formerly Twitter) Chat November 4th, 11 a.m. ET: Participating bloggers and others interested in the subject will connect via a live X chat. It's a nice bring way to bring in others interested in the subject who didn't get a chance to share a blog post. You can definitely still join the blog event if you're not available for the live chat.
Seupa à la Vapelenentse
When I was looking for regional dishes I came across a soup festival that takes place in the end of July. Odd to be a summertime festival; this dish is well-suited for cooler autumn evenings.
Seupa à la Vapelenentse is a typical farmhouse dish made with stale white bread and local-made Fontina cheese. Like most farmhouse dishes, this was designed to use ingredients that would other wise go to waste such as stale bread. The ingredients are sliced, layered, topped with cheese and baked in the oven. Usually the broth used is beef broth; I used a mushroom broth to keep this dinner vegetarian.
1/2 head organic green cabbage, sliced into thin wedges
4 slices stale bread (traditional is white bread, but I used a dark rye)
1-1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1 liter broth (traditional is beef, but I used a mushroom broth)
salt, pepper, and ground cinnamon
Also needed a small pot or oven-proof casserole
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Blanch cabbage wedges and place in the bottom of your pot or oven-proof casserole. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and ground cinnamon. Layer sliced bread over the cabbage then top with cheese. Sprinkle with more salt, pepper, and ground cinnamon. Pour in the broth, cover, and place in the oven for 35 minutes.
Raise the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place the pot, uncovered, into the oven. Bake until the melted cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown. Serve immediately.
I can't wait to see what the Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers pour and pair. Stay tuned!