Alessandria: where all the flavours of the Monferrato come together
Winter is ending, the days are starting to get longer, and I want to go on a nice trip. Would you like to come with me to Alessandria? Don’t worry, you don’t even have to get off your chair!
Alessandria is a city in the Monferrato, in the south-west of Piedmont, which is located between two rivers: the Bormida and the Tanaro. Founded in 1168, it is a city rich in history that has been the protagonist of many events, from the battle of Marengo to the bombings during the Second World War.
Let’s start our walk right from a military building, the Cittadella of Alessandria. Built in the eighteenth century by the Savoy for defensive purposes, it is one of the greatest European monuments among the permanent fortifications. It is characterized by a particular star-shaped plant and is less than two kilometers away from the city center. A fortress very close to the heart of the city that has been maintained over the years and preserved in its entirety.
Let’s now cross the Tanaro walking on the Meier bridge: this modern and elegant bridge was inaugurated in 2016, replacing the historic bridge that connected the Citadella to the city.
We go straight through the streets of the center, first passing through Gobetti Square, and then, after passing by the synagogue, we get to the Cathedral of Alessandria, dedicated to Saints Peter and Mark. It was built at the end of the twelfth century, but Napoleon had it demolished and rebuilt in the neoclassical style in the nineteenth century. A curiosity: the bell tower, 106 meters high, is the third highest in Italy!
After all this road, aren’t you hungry? I am and the hunger increased passing in front of a pastry shop: I saw some very inviting sweets! Among krumiri, typical biscuits in the shape of a handlebar mustache in honour of King Vittorio Emanuele II, chocolate truffles, and amaretti, the Polenta del Marengo caught my attention. It is a dessert made with corn flour and raisins. It is said that after the battle of Marengo in 1800 Napoleon showed up in an inn to celebrate his victory. The innkeeper, who did not have a dessert ready, combined the humble flour for polenta with the ingredients he had available creating this simple and unique dessert.
Alessandria’s food and wine tradition are very famous not only for desserts: Monferrato offers many products, starting with wines. The winemaking tradition here is very ancient: Barbera, Dolcetto, Colli Tortonesi, Brachetto… There are more than 40 wines produced in the province of Alessandria that has obtained the Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC) and 18 that have obtained the Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (DOCG).
I would like to focus on one of these in particular: the Gavi di Gavi DOCG. Produced with Cortese grapes from an area that includes only 11 municipalities of Monferrato, this white wine is a gem, a pearl of the Monferrato wine tradition because it goes well with local vegetable and fish dishes. It is said that the production of Cortese grapes began in 1700 and that it is also called “The Barolo of white wines”. The Tacchino family has been carrying on this precious tradition for three generations, producing an elegant and valuable Gavi di Gavi DOCG.
Thanks to a naturally suitable soil (mainly hilly with plateaus rich in red soils due to clayey marls) and the presence of lindens, Alessandria’s area is also famous for truffles. A precious and refined product, they are a symbol of the link between humankind and nature but finding them fresh is a real treasure hunt!
Therefore Tartuflanghe, a Piedmontese company, has decided to take advantage of the most innovative techniques to ensure that the best truffles are preserved for a long time and allowed everyone to enjoy them, even out of season. That is how the dehydrated black truffle and the dehydrated white truffle but also the truffle butter, the sliced black truffle in olive oil were created. There is one more delicacy by Tartuflanghe: a product that no one had ever created before, the Tartufissima, the first pasta in the world with truffles. Created by chef Beppe in the 90s, it has become increasingly famous for its intense and unique flavor. Just think that since 2012, it has been on the “Favourite things on Oprah” list of the historic American presenter Winfrey! The high percentage of eggs gives it all the flavour of homemade pasta, while the bronze drawing and slow drying at low temperatures give it a balanced and intense flavour.
Our trip to Alessandria is over: we got wine, we got pasta with truffles, now we just have to boil some water and set the table, the flavors of Alessandria are ready to be enjoyed!
– Until next time, With love!