Valle d’Aosta is one of Italy’s smaller regions, occupying the northwestern corner of the country. The region is known for its breathtaking landscapes that include snowy mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes and incredible wildlife. The Aosta Valley is also home to Italy’s first national park, the Parco del Gran Paradiso, and is well known for its incredible ski resorts.
In Valle d’Aosta, you will notice the cultural, linguistic and culinary influence of its bordering countries, France and Switzerland. Over the centuries, various populations have made their way through the valley and left their mark in the medieval cathedrals and splendid castles. Still today, the valley is populated from people from outside Italy, including the Walser community, an autonomous German-speaking population that immigrated from Valais, Switzerland.
Traditionally, the people in Valle d’Aosta were known as skilled hunters and farmers, which explains the quality and variety of their food products. Local breads and pastas are often made with rye or chestnut flour, and are used in the preparation of various cold-weather soups. Like in other regions of Northern Italy, polenta, a type of Italian corn meal, is popular here and is often served with melted cheese. A traditional Walser dish called Chnéf-fléne is made of flour and milk dumplings, covered, yet again, with melted Alpine cheese.
Many of the regional cheeses include Fontina DOP, Fromadzo DOP, Reblec, Séras and numerous other excellent tomes. Fontina is certainly the most famous of the bunch and is the basis of fonduta, the Italian take on fondue. The dish is made with creamy, melted fontina, but unlike the Swiss or the French, Italians add butter and eggs to the mix.
You will also find a considerable amount of meat served in Valle d’Aosta, thanks to the local hunting tradition. Many of the dishes are based on French preparations, like cooking game in civet, or marinating it with wine, herbs and onions. Another classic dish of the region is carbonade, a stew of salt-cured beef, red wine and spices.
There is also a long tradition of curing game. The typical, regional salume, or Italian cured-meat, is Mocetta. Today, it is made with beef, or chamois, it used to be made out of the thigh meat of Alpine ibex. The region is also known for its flavorful and aromatic pork products, like the VdA Jambon de Bosses Dop and the sweet Lardo d’Arnad DOP, flavored with herbs.
And what better to finish off a meal than a piece of fruit. Apples and pears are grown in the many mountain valleys of the region. The local honey is also particularly aromatic.
Some traditional recipes of Aosta Valley
This recipe for cabbage sformato, a flan-like custard, is enriched with a tasty fontina fondue. It is a flavorful dish coming from rural Italian kitchens.
Veal Ribs with Fontina Cheese
This meat dish has an intense flavor, typical of the Aosta Valley.
Renette Apple Dessert
This soft and sweet apple sauce makes for the perfect dessert.