Cucina Conversations come back with a new subject dedicated to Travel and Food.
Which of you share with me the great sense of nostalgia after a journey ended too soon? When I scroll down my iPhone gallery and look at the pictures I took, the only thing that makes me revive those moments is trying to cook the dish I ate around, hoping to reproduce the same taste and the same smells.
Every travel of mine involves the exploration of the typical cuisine, the souvenirs I bring home with me are always edible. Stuff to be stored in the fridge or in the cellar.
I have been to the North of Italy several times. And most of this times I took a plane from Bergamo airport to everywhere else in the world, I never stopped to visit the City. Well, finally last spring I had the chance to do it, and guys what a lovely discovery! Bergamo Alta is a medieval city situated on the top of a hill. Walking down the ancient paved streets you feel like living in another time. The ancient town is not so far from the airport, but you need almost four hour for a fast visit of the city centre.
To go up the ancient town you can take the Funicolare or better, if you want a full immersion in the athomospere, you can go up through the several step paths bordering the green gardens of the beautiful villas of Bergamo.
Bergamo cuisine is famous all over Italy for its fresh pasta ripiena known as Casonsei, a kind of stuffed pasta like tortelli or ravioli, with a filling made by sausage, “Bergamaschi” cheeses and other herbs and spices, often seasoned with butter and sage or with a roast sauce. As well as Casonsei, Bergamo is famous for its soft and blue cheeses, the most famous are Scimudin, Bitto and Casera to name a few. But above all, the province of Bergamo is famous for its green Valleys, one of the most beautiful is Val Tellina from where two of the most known Italian Specialities come from: Bresaola and Pizzoccheri. Those are the leading actors of my monthly contribution.
Making them at home is very easy.
Ingredients for Pizzoccheri
200 gr buckwheat flour
200 gr withe flour 0
warm water q.b.
For the seasoning
100 g clarified butter
500 gr Wide-leafed Bieta
2 potatoes cut into cubes
Casera or Bitto Cheese (alternatively a semi-fat soft cheese)
1 clove of garlic
Salt and Black Pepper
Mix the two flours in a large bowl, pour in the water and start to mix them all together until the dough has reached a soften texture. Leave it rest for a couple of minutes.
Roll the pasta dough with a rolling pin until a thickness of 2 cm. Cut it into vertical strips about 1cm wide and 6-7 cm long.
Bring a large saucepan to boil and add salt. Wash and cut the potatoes and the Bieta into small cubes. There are different types of Bieta and different variations of Pizzoccheri, in Valtellina is also used the cabbage. In one of my variations I use a vegetable that here in Calabria is known as Cime di zucchina, the stems of zucchini plant with tender leaves.
When the water boils, pour in the potatoes and Bieta and cook them together for about 10 minutes. Now gently place the Pizzoccheri and let them cook until softened but “al dente”. In the meantime prepare the butter and sage sauce.
Melt the butter in a pan, add sage leaves, crushed garlic, nutmeg and black pepper. When the Pizzoccheri are cooked, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them in a baking dish or a serving dish. You will have to make a couple of layers, in each of them pour a little of butter sauce and casera cheese cut into cubes. Let the Pizzoccheri rest for a while. Serve them adding some Parmesan if you like it.
Without any doubt it is a winter dish, once it belonged to the poor cuisine, today Pizzoccheri have been elevated to the haute cuisine. The buckwheat flour is also excellent for those who are intolerant to gluten, although in the case of Pizzoccheri it is useful to add it with a white flour as it results difficult to mix and process.
Try and discover the other Travel and Food recipes of my fellow bloggers:
Rosemarie, coming back from her summer trip to Corsica will make “Necci”, a type of crêpe made with chestnut flour.
Carmen, after her wonderful trip to Italy she will prepare a fragrant Almond granita to remember Sicily especially the Baroque city of Noto.