For Doglianesi producers, there exists a cultural territory as well, which is much larger than that of the appellation, a territory to which they are bound and with which they share flavours and important traditions.
It is the horizon of an area not limited by the confines of a map, but that breathes the air of wider, broader borders: it looks to the lands of Carrù, Piozzo and Cherasco, the illustrious history of Mondovì, the livestock market at Cuneo and more, beyond its relationship with the surrounding plains and valleys of the province. It is a territory of flavours and traditions, of food, scents and aromas, fairs and festivals, landscapes and the men and women who, for centuries, have celebrated each day with their wines.
The typical cuisine of the area is a masterly coming together of the gastronomic products and heritage of this vast territory. It is a cuisine based on pure, fresh ingredients and authentic products and resources of the land, which are used in the rich variety of dishes offered in the eating establishments of the towns and villages. Along with the typical dishes of the Langhe, like “tajarin”, “ravioli del plin”, braised meats or the infinite varieties of antipasti, here reigns supreme boiled meats, sovereign being the fat ox of Carrù; soups, like “Cisrà”, made with tripe and chickpeas,
originally created to feed fairgoers upon arrival after covering kilometres on foot; the delicious robiole and tume cheeses made from the milk of sheep raised in the upper Langhe, whose quality and goodness speak for themselves, simply accompanied by a bunch of Dolcetto grapes or used in preparing flans, filled pasta or melted over boiled vegetables. The local hazelnuts are transformed into delicate cakes, biscuits, and the famous nougat, often covered with chocolate, or even unexpectedly, used to stuff meats or garnish delicate roasts. Mushrooms, (“bulei” in dialect), found in the nearby chestnut woods, can be simply enjoyed breaded and fried on their own. Game, from those same woods, is popular cooked “i salmì” (stewed in butter and a wine-ragout). And finally the unique, unmistakably scented truffle, which seems to have a preference for the territory here which is not as overwhelmed by intensified vine growing as other areas. A renowned truffle market is held annually at Ceva.
These simple, time-honoured and authentic flavours are complemented and enhanced by Dolcetto wine in a multitude of quintessential pairings. A bottle should never be missing from the table of anyone stopping to savour local specialities.
The “Bue grasso”, or fat ox, which can weigh from 900 to 1200 kg., belongs to the Razza Piemontese. This breed has always been recognized for its capacity to produce top quality beef and milk as well as for its willingness to work. Until agriculture began to rely on mechanized equipment and farming methods, drastically reducing the need for work oxen, the Piedmontese market could count on 8000 head of livestock every year. These were animals that, at the end of their working life, were fattened and prepared for slaughtering. Anywhere else this would have been considered uneconomic but in Piedmont it was fully justified as the breed guaranteed optimum, highly nutritional beef that commanded fully compensating market prices. There were once numerous livestock markets throughout the Piedmont region, but the one at Carrù always attracted the largest numbers of participants. Towards the middle of this century, due to changes in agricultural practices, the raising of the bue grasso was reduced from a widespread activity to one on the verge of extinction, but more and more breeders are now choosing to increase the number of fat ox raised and readied to eventually make their way to Carrù.
The fair dates back centuries ago and we know from documents that a livestock market took place twice a week as from 1473. Duke Vittorio Amedeo I, with a decree dated 15th October 1635, granted the community an annual 3-day fair, to be held after San Carlo’s saint’s day (4th November). The first official fair dedicated wholly to the fat ox was organized by the Municipal Administration and the Comizio Agrario di Mondovì on15th December 1910, in an effort to remedy the serious lack of animals available for butchering and the subsequent increase in the price of meat. Today the Fair of the Fat Bull is a traditional, as well as commercial, event promoting the raising of Piedmont breeds and encouraging consumers to choose high quality local beef.
For more information on the bue grasso please visit the website
Murazzano is a high fat, fresh cheese traditionally produced from 100% ewe’s milk, now however, it usually contains up to 40% cow’s milk. It is round, with a diameter of about 10-15 cm, is 3-4 cm high and weighs between 300 and 400 grams. Thin-skinned and milk-white when fresh, it is straw-white when aged, and has a soft, firm and fine-grained body. It is produced in the area of the Comunità Montana Alta Langa in the municipalities of Bastia Mondovi, Ceva, Castelnuovo Cea, Clavesana, Montezemolo, Priero and Sale San Giovanni. Its fresh and delicate flavour comes from the natural sweetness of the ewe’s milk, and pairs perfectly with Dolcetto di Dogliani.
To make Murazzano, milk is heated to 37° and is inoculated with liquid rennet. The soft curd is broken up into hazelnut-sized lumps, poured into cylindrical forms with drainage holes in the bottom, and left for at least 24 hours. As it ages it is quickly rinsed with warm water every day. Ageing usually lasts from 4 to 10 days.
Pliny the Elder, in his Naturalis Historia, cites Liguria and Cebano, and mentions a cheese that seemed to have its origins in Celtic sheep farming. Bareris believed Murazzano to be the oldest of Italian cheeses, and a doctor from Vercelli, Pantaleone da Confienza, in his Summa Lactciniorum, wrote an entire chapter on the cheese of the Mora, describing it as a “cheese called robiole of small dimensions, produced in the lands of the Marquis of Monferrato, Carretto and Ceva”.
Popular legend has it that the name of the cheese derives from the story of Giuanin di Murazzano, a young boy whose mother left him in charge of guarding a few forms of robiole. But when a crow flew by and stole one of them, Giuanin chased the bird as far as Ceva, where Satan in person then tried to drag him down to Hell. Fortunately, the youngster managed to save himself, as well as the cheese; unfortunately, it was missing rather a large chunk.
Murazzano was awarded DOP (Denomination of Protected Origins) status by regional CE regulation no. 1263 on July 1st 1996.
For more information on Murazzano cheese please visit the website
Truffles are a unique hypogeal, or underground, fungus with roots that are a thick, intricate network of white filaments (ife). The fruit, in the form of a tuber, is a meaty mass (gleba), covered with a sort of bark or skin (peridio). The diverse characteristics of these parts allow the different types of truffles to be identified. Truffles consist mainly of water and mineral salts, absorbed from the earth through tree roots, with which they live in symbiosis. They generally prefer oaks, willows, lime or linden trees, and poplars; some claim vines as well. Alba’s white truffles vary in colour, according to the tree they grow up against, and can have shades of pink, brown or grey. After forming, the truffle becomes a parasite, absorbing the sap that the roots of the host tree get from the ground. The most strongly-scented and longest-lasting truffles are those born of oak trees, while the most aromatic and lightly-scented come from linden trees.
Their irregularly rounded form depends on the soil in which they grow: if it is soft and spongy the truffle will be smoother; if it is hard and compact it will develop knots and indentations. Truffles can mature any time between the end of August and the month of January; every root produces just one truffle per year, unless it is accidentally cut. The perfect environment for the white truffle of Alba is the wooded areas where oaks predominate, but they can also be found along riverbanks or near streams, where willows and poplars are common, or in the vicinity of linden trees. Naturally they need the right type of earth to grow: limy soil is perfect, but limy-clay, with silica or flint, is also suitable. Truffles rarely grow higher up than 600 metres above sea level. But the truth is, they are totally unpredictable and will grow anywhere that they can find hospitable roots, even in vineyards. Their preferred habitats are damp, green and not too sunny and they seem to have a particular affinity for the province of Cuneo. The most felicitous area for truffles approximately follows the Torino – Savona road as far as Ceva, and extends along the Tanaro River as far as the province of Imperia. Especially generous are the hills of Roero and the Langhe around the towns of Alba, Mondovì and Ceva.
For more information on truffles please visit the website.
The Langhe produces one third of all the hazelnuts grown in the province of Cuneo, and boasts an annual harvest of 80,000 quintals. The indigenous variety here is the “tonda gentile” of the Langhe (of the species Corylius Avellana), fully flavoured, easy to crack and preserve. For a bit of its history, we can go back to the last century, when local confectioners discovered the fruit and began concocting delectable sweet treats with it. The pioneer of all this was a certain Michele Prochet, who it used it as a fundamental ingredient in the special chocolate he created and called “gianduia”. This was a great success, and other confectioners soon followed his lead, causing such an increase in the demand for the nut, that by the 1930’s, farmers decided to devote their largest tracts of land to its cultivation. On 2nd December 1993, the Italian government laid out specifications for the official classification and the protection of the “tonda gentile delle Langhe”.
Today, Alba and Cortemilia both have a number of small and medium-sized industrial laboratories that dry and shell the nuts, a basic step in the preparation of Alba’s famous torrone, or nougat.
The hazelnut trees grow on hills from 250 to 700 metres high, generally in those areas not suitable for vineyards. More like tall bushes than trees, they are planted 250 to 400 per hectare, with the maximum harvest set at 35 quintals per hectare. An attempt to pick the fruit directly from the plant was eventually abandoned because not all the hazelnuts ripened at the same time and some of those remaining on the tree ended up being overly humid. In smaller plots of land, the nuts are harvested manually once they are ripe and have fallen spontaneously from the tree. This can also be done using special aspirators. An alternative is to hang nets from the trees to catch the nuts, but these often end up too heavy and fall to the ground, resulting in nuts that may have absorbed moisture. And if hazelnuts become damp, they can easily begin to turn rancid. This is why, as soon as they have been harvested, they are immediately dried, either outdoors in the sun or with special dryers that utilize hot (up to 35° C) air. They are then collected in jute sacks or in silos, or sometimes shelled and frozen. Properly stored, hazelnuts can be saved for a certain period of time until they are ready for use.
For more information on the Tonda Gentile hazelnut see