From Toma to Polenta: Food in the Aosta Valley

From Toma to Polenta: Food in the Aosta Valley

As a young boy, we would spend many weekends in a small valley called Germanasca, a valley parallel to that of the 2006 Olympic Games and much more quiet and reserved. We would arrive there Friday evening after we were done with school and my dad was back from work. We would stop at a local grocery shop and buy staples for the weekend.

I vividly remember, that I would ask for peanuts in a shell. Don’t ask me why I am telling you this, just promise you won’t look for peanuts and spoil your appetite, because there is awesome food to be had.

The Alps are a great place to hike, to bike, to ski, and to spend time with friends and family. But after all the fun in the open air, with all of those outdoor activities you will probably be very hungry and looking forward to some delicious Alpine comfort food. 

So, here it is what you should be going for when visiting the Alps, in particular Aosta Valley and Piedmont.

Aosta valley is a region renowned for the quality of its local salamis and meats giving rise to specialities such as the carbonade, which is a dish composed of stewed meat wine wine, onions and spices. The region is known for its rustic, hearty cooking with clear Gallic influences, and this rich beef and red wine stew is certainly no exception. Carbonade valdostana may sound like many other red wine beef stews, but its intense use of butter, herbs and spices lends it a special mellow flavor well worth the calories. It was originally made from beef preserved in salt in times when Kroger did not exist yet.

And what about the cheeses? They are a big symbol of the Aosta Valley, Fontina the most famous, beautifully stinky cheese used to make the Fonduta alla Valdostana (cheese fondue) and the typical ValPelline soup made with cabbage, Fontina and stale rye bread.

But also Toma and Fromadzo. These are cheeses made high in the pastures by animals left roaming freely, then seasoned in miles long underground caves.

The region is somewhat immune to the pasta-obsession of the peninsula to its south. Gnocchi (potato dumplings) are the only kind of regional pasta and are often served with fonduta.

The region’s micro-climate allows vines to grow up to 4,000 feet, and if you didn’t pay attention, you might find yourself in disbelief of the quality and variety of the wine being produced. The Aosta Valley Route des Vins is a route through vineyards and wine cellars. Let us know if you are interested in adding more food and drinks activities to your itinerary.

Verticalife offers adventure tours throughout the Alps. From a summit to the Matterhorn, to a trip up the Monterosa to the Regina Margherita Hut (highest building in Europe).

We will take you ski, mountain bike, trekking, running and climbing in beautiful places, away from crowds with your fun, safety and overall enjoyment in mind.

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