The province of Vercelli holds three different kinds of the landscape just within a matter of kilometers: the mountainous landscape of Valsesia, overlooked by Monte Rosa; the hilly landscape of the lands that reach Gattinara, Roasio, Lozzolo, and Serravalle Sesia and the area surrounding Moncrivello, and the plain landscape dominated by the rice fields of the Vercelli area. These three landscapes are the result of a specific way of experiencing the land with lifestyles inevitably affected by climatic, morphological, and local aspects as well as by the altitude and the morphology of the territory.
All these factors significantly affected the type of food and the typical recipes of the region: simple dishes from what the land could offer and then those acquired through hunting, fishing, or a walk in the woods. The strong and genuine flavors, handed down by the ancient peasant tradition, represent the true asset of the territory.
The true king of Vercelli’s cuisine is rice: a versatile grain used to make Panissa, the most traditional Vercelli’s risotto, paired with beans, pork rinds, minced lard, herbs, and "salam d’la duja”. However, rice is not the only product that makes agriculture and local cuisine great.
The non-rice based dishes are just as inviting and tasty: fagiolata, a typical bean dish of the carnival period (the largest in Italy is held in Santhià); frogs, cooked in the most varied ways; fried pork, basic food in the Vercelli peasants diet since every single part of it was consumed; "rognose” frittatas (with crumbled salami) and ciburea and ratatuja (very tasty preparations of meat offal and potatoes in "bagna”)
The cultivation of red Saluggia beans and Villata beans is as old as that of rice. The western area of the territory is particularly suitable for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. Borgo d’Ale offers asparagus, zucchini, and kiwis along with white pulp peaches that are so famous they have been awarded special recognition.
To end the meal with a sweet dessert, one can choose between the delicate shortbread pastry of Bicciolani or tartufata. The first are crumbly cookies flavored with cinnamon, cocoa, and cloves: their unmistakable flavor and name, the same as the city’s carnival mask, make them the symbol of Vercelli. The second is a sponge cake filled with soft cream. The base is garnished with chopped hazelnuts and fluffy chocolate sheets dusted with powdered sugar.
Climbing up in altitude, even the flavors change: in Valsesia the cuisine is made of decidedly nourishing dishes, created to face the harsh winters. A few examples? Polenta concia and capunèt, simple rolls made with rhubarb or savoy cabbage leaves filled in turn with a mixture of chopped mortadella, parsley, garlic, onion, and bread soaked in milk, all braised in butter, a little broth, and white wine.
The pure air of the "greenest valley in Italy” is the birthplace of Valsesia toma, a typical hard or semi-soft cheese available in different varieties, from fresh to aged, some flavored with spices, garlic, and chili pepper or through a particular type of aging.
A few other traditional dishes not to be missed are: straccetti and mocettaprocessed just like prosciutto and served in very thin slices; masarai potatoes,turtad’Alagna or uberlekke, a boiled meat dish of Walser origin prepared using different types of salted game meat from the Valsesian woods, sometimes flavored with vegetables or salami.
And obviously, it is a must to mention the miacce. It is difficult to say whether they are sweet or savory. They are very thin and crispy wafers, healthy and so good they can be served with anything: honey, gorgonzola, jams, speck, Nutella but especially with the toma cheese from Valsesia.
What is the best way to pair these tasty dishes? The answer is, of course, a good glass of wine from the Nebbiolo lands of Northern Piedmont! Visit us and discover our finest wines.