BUNCHES OF TASTE: ASTI FOOD TOUR

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In the heart of Piedmont, a border region historically subject to French influences, lies the city of Asti, on the banks of the Tanaro river and surrounded by hills. Birthplace of Vittorio Alfieri, perched on the hills of the Langhe and Monferrato, for years the Astigiano has been a dreamy destination for those who are fascinated by the soft and enchanting landscapes, as well as by excellent food and extraordinary wines typical of the area. That’s why an Asti food tour has landed on our pages: to show you all the gourmanderies of these beautiful places.

Asti’s Cuisine

Asti Food Tour

Asti Food Tour

The roots of Asti’s cuisine get deep into the typically Piedmontese style, especially when it comes to the sandy slopes of its territory and its agricultural production based on the square peppers of Motta di Costigliole – where you are considered a foreigner if you are not able to pronounce the idiomatic phrase “Dui puvrun bagnà ‘nt l’öli” (two peppers dipped in oil) – on the thistle of Nizza Monferrato, on the trilobed hazelnut of the Langhe, and on many other products that would be too long to list here.

Although among the Astigiano specialties can be found sumptuous and refined dishes, such as the Gran Bollito misto (a mix of boiled meat) or the veal braised with Barbera, cousin of the transalpine boeuf bourguignon, most of the recipes are characterized by a purely rural vocation.

Asti’s typical recipes

Asti Food Tour

Asti Food Tour

The breath of the countryside can be felt in the pan marià, a classic recipe that reuses the stale bread by passing it in the beaten egg and then frying it; in the bagna caoda, a sauce based on garlic and anchovy to be served with raw vegetables and so loved by the Japanese that they even made some snacks with it; in the cisrà, a soup made with chickpeas and ribs; or even in the Gran Fritto Misto, which combines the frying of offal, sausages, and even apples, semolina and amaretto biscuits.

Then first courses are no less important, ranging from stuffed pasta types such as the famous ravioli with plin, an onomatopoeia that indicates the pinch to close the dough around its stuffing of meat; gnocchi, risotto, often blended with local wines, primarily Barbera, up to the tajarin, thin noodles with an intense yellow colour due to the use of yolks, seasoned in the most varied ways: simply with butter, or with porcini mushrooms, truffles or roast sauce.

Meat dishes

Asti Food Tour - Astigiano style raw meat

Asti Food Tour – Astigiano style raw meat

A peasant tradition, however, doesn’t mean only vegetables, as even small farms are on the agenda, ensuring, among other things, the Piedmontese beef, used to prepare the delicious Astigiana style raw meat, a simple dish based on tartare minced with a knife and flavoured with garlic, oil, salt, pepper, and sometimes finished with some truffle. To complete the picture, there’re various cured meats such as salami, in its cooked and raw variations; and lard, often crushed, spiced and spread on the friciule, the typical salty pancakes; and also sausages, braised with wine or cooked with cabbages as in the preparation of the sancrau.

Desserts

Asti Food Tour - Bönet

Asti Food Tour – Bönet

Moreover, if after a lunch or a dinner based on pepper rolls, donkey meat-stuffed agnolotti, wild boar stew with polenta and robioladi Roccaverano, produced with a controlled designation of origin, there was still space in your stomach, you would have available an abundant variety of desserts. Starting from chocolate-filled peaches and meeting other delicacies such as hazelnut cakebönet– a cocoa-based spoon dessert – coffee and amaretto biscuit pudding, zabaione – rigorously prepared with Moscato d’Asti – or the Mön, the sweet brick typical of the municipality of Mongardino, whose recipe is jealously guarded.

Asti’s Wines

Asti Food Tour - Moscato grapes

Asti Food Tour – Moscato grapes

Next to such a rich and various menu, a wine list could not be lacking. And it’s, in fact, the wine tradition of Asti that goes perfectly along with the culinary roots, in a symbiotic relationship of mutual enrichment. The fact that, on the maps, the borders of Asti’s province look like the shape of a bunch of grapes, is definitely emblematic of its predisposition to the world of oenology.

There is, therefore, no lack of great wines here, white and red, for meals and desserts, which over the years have guaranteed to many cellars the denomination of controlled origin. All of this starts from Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti, now chosen all over the world to toast during great occasions, both sons of the Moscato grapes that have chosen the municipality of Canelli as their elective homeland.

Red wines

Asti Food Tour - Ruchè

Asti Food Tour – Ruchè

For the lovers of decidedly more full-bodied red wines, you can only opt ​​for Barbera d’Asti, Barbera del Monferrato or for the Nizza. Those who prefer a fruitier red wine should go for the Albugnano of Nebbiolo grapes, the Cisterna d’Asti or the Dolcetto; still on the subject of red wines, we must not forget others with an intense flavour, like the Ruchè of Castagnole Monferrato, the Freisa, and the Grignolino d’Asti.

White wines and dessert wines

Asti Food Tour - Alta Langa by Enrico Serafino

Asti Food Tour – Alta Langa by Enrico Serafino

Remaining in the Kingdom of Bacchus, do not miss the white wines, reaching peaks of excellence with the Cortese dell’Alto. The same excellence that is guaranteed by the Alta Langa, a high-prestige brut that can also be produced with rose grapes.

Passing to the sweet wines, perfect to be paired with any dessert but also to drink between meals, it is necessary to mention the white Loazzolo, and the red Malvasia di Casorzo and Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco, both pleasantly sparkling.

Food and Wine Events In the Astigiano

Asti Food Tour

Asti Food Tour

The unquestionable cultural value, and why not, also economic, of the rich food and wine heritage of Asti has been further demonstrated on different scales. Starting from the worldwide one, as UNESCO has decided to include among its sites the rows of vines that wind on the hillsides of this territory; while at local level, the various public authorities, from the hill communities to the municipalities and the province, are engaged in a campaign to promote and enhance the area.

In fact, there are many events that, between March and December, make the Astigiano come alive. They range through the most varied themes, from bagna caoda to truffles, wines or square peppers. Among these, absolutely notable are the National Truffle Fair in Moncalvo on the last two Sundays of October; the Nizza Monferrato barrels race in June, where the tasting of local products is added to the “sport” challenge; and, above all, the two kermis that characterize the month of September of in the chief town: the festival della Sagre, with the square of Campo del Palio animated by the houses of the Pro loco of the province that are engaged at serving their typical dishes; and the Douja d’Or, a famous oenological exhibition that becomes a sommelier’s paradise.

Food and Wine Tours in the Astigiano

Asti Food Tour - Costigliole's Castle

Asti Food Tour – Costigliole’s Castle

If the events are not enough, gourmands can also follow different itineraries to discover the local landscape and its gastronomic wonders. Going South, you will come across the Langa of Asti, splendidly represented by Agliano Terme; Costigliole with its grand castle; Canelli, realm of the sparkling wine; and Roccaverano with its robiola cheese. Across to the Southern route, you can also reach some Monferrato pearls such as Nizza. Here you can taste the Beli Cauda, ​​a variant of the farinata; or Mombaruzzo, perfumed by those soft amaretto biscuits that are continuously baked here.

Those who chose instead to go North-East, will enter the heart of Monferrato, meeting Castagnole Monferrato, a town embellished by its Ruchè; Grana and its collection of sacred art; Grazzano Badoglio, that gave birth to the famous Marshal, and Moncalvo, one of the ancient capitals of the historical Marquisate.

Last but not least, follow the North-West route, which covers the medieval Via Francigena and includes Montiglio, where you can taste superb hazelnut specialties; Cocconato, an important dairy center; Aramengo, known for its restoration centre; Tigliole, immersed in the vineyards, and the enchanting village of San Damiano.

Where to Eat and Drink In the Astigiano

The wide range of excellent food and wines, however, is not limited to festivals and fairs, being in fact available throughout the year in the various restaurants, cellars, inns, and farms that are abundant in the Astigiano.

Wine tasting connoisseurs, both amateur and non, have the possibility to choose between a very high number of wine shops and cellars. And, if the decision should be too difficult, they can count on the help of the Commerce Chamber of Asti. They’re alway ready to direct them to the excellences.

Wine shops and cellars

Asti Food Tour - Canelli's underground cathedrals

Asti Food Tour – Canelli’s underground cathedrals

So, travellers may head to the Enoteca Regionale di Canelli e dell’Astesana (Via Giuliani 29, Canelli), where sparkling wines reign; to the Enoteca Regionale di Nizza Monferrato (Via Carlo Alberto 58, Nizza M.to), which supports the tasting of wines with that of typical products; they could visit the Cantina Comunale di Bruno (Piazza Ivaldi 21, Bruno); or the Bottega del Vino della Langa Astigiana (Via Consortile 18, Bubbio), where they may also taste typical cheeses; the Bottega del Vino di Castagnole delle Lanze (Via Bettica 13, Castagnole delle Lanze), with tastings of DOC and DOCG wines; or the Cantina Comunale di Costigliole d’Asti (Via Roma 9, Costigliole d’Asti). The latter also offers a wide selection of grappa, another fine product of the viticulture processing.

Restaurants in Asti

Asti Food Tour - Taste Vin

Asti Food Tour – Taste Vin

For those who prefer a comfortable meal, better if sitting at a good restaurant, just indicate a random point on map of the province. That will almost certainly give you a good choice.

Starting from the chief town of Asti, you can eat at the Taste Vin (Via Carlo Vassallo 2), in an environment as refined as its kitchen; at the Angolo del Beato (Vicolo Giuseppe Cavalleri 2), with an encyclopaedic wine list; at the Pompa Magna (Via Aliberti 65), in the heart of the medieval city; or maybe at the Tacabanda (Via Teatro Alfieri 5), for those who want to try the traditions revisited in a modern way. Preferring instead an environment immersed in the authentic countryside, you must go to the Regibussa (località Casabianca 110, Asti), in the wooded surroundings of the town.

Restaurants in the Astigiano

Asti Food Tour - Bagna cauda

Asti Food Tour – Bagna cauda

Opting for a tour of the Langhe, to be pointed out are undoubtedly the Da Elsa inn (Via San Siro 1), with generous portions of simply authentic food; the Madonna della Neve restaurant in Cessole (Madonna della Neve 2), a local institution since 1957; and the Cà Rossa in Cisterna d’Asti (Piazza Rossino 1), with a warm, homely atmosphere.

In the Monferrato area there are as valid alternatives as in the Langhe one. Bonvino in Cocconato (Strada Vai 7), for example, a farm with a contemporary imprint; the Roico Farm in Montiglio Monferrato (Provincial Road 22, km21.5); the Trattoria da Geppe in Castagnole Monferrato (Via Umberto I 10), where the meal is accompanied by an excellent Ruchè; or the Ciabot del Grignolin in Calliano (Via Asti 136), among whose specialties the famous Gran Fritto Mistostands out.

In the midst of so many excellent places, then, the dilemma is not so much about looking for good food, but rather about choosing which one to go first, since eating and drinking well in the Astigiano is practically a religion. In fact, as they say in these lands, who drinks water lives a hundred years, who drinks wine never dies.

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