Valle d'Aosta - Food and Wines - Food
This tiny region in north-western Italy touches on France and Switzerland.
Val d'Aosta's robust cuisine is perfectly suited to the Northern climate: bread-and-cheese soups, vegetable soups, nourishing polentas, sweet water fish, braised game, stewed meat, and simple desserts are all favourites, and offer soothing comfort in the face of cold winters.
Game is often partnered with juniper berries or other mountain flavours for a rich, penetrating aroma, and cabbage and potatoes are two of the region's staple vegetables.
Bread in Val d'Aosta is made from wheat or rye flour, and chestnuts are sometimes thrown in for a nutty flavour.
Salty cured meats, local hams made from mountain goats or venison, and pungent cheeses are the most frequent antipasti, often served with bread topped by a pat of unsalted farmhouse butter and a drizzle of honey for a sweet and savoury flavour combination.
The region is home to Fontina, one of Italy's best cows' milk cheeses, rich and nutty and ideal for melting.
Desserts are most often fruit-based, made according to the same recipes for generations.
While Grappa, Italy's renowned distillate, is poured after most meals to better digest, it is the grolla dell'amicizia, or cup of friendship, that is most symbolic of the region: friends sip sweetened, grappa-spiked coffee from a multi-spouted earthenware or wooden cup as a symbol of Valdostano hospitality and conviviality.
Local wines include Blanc de Morgex, Donnas, Chambave, Valle d'Aosta, and Enfer.