On the last Sunday of November I had the pleasure of going to what I hope will be an annual event on my calendar – Bolliti di Barolo. What is Bollito? It is a classic Piedmontese dish of the winter months, and consists of a slow-cooked selection of mixed boiled meats served with traditional home-made condiments. This particular event is hosted and prepared by the talented butcher of Barolo, Franco Sandrone, in a big white tent opposite the butcher shop in the main street of Barolo. His luxury version of this classic consists of scaramella (veal plate / flank cuts), punta di petto (brisket), tenerone (literally big tender, neck to shoulder cut), cappello da prete (shoulder), muscolo della coscia (forequarter meat), lingua (tongue), coda (tail), testina (head of veal), gallina (chicken) and cotechino (cooked salami typical around Christmas).
The day of the event happened to be a miserable rainy day, perfect to snuggle up inside with 200 of your closest friends and feast and be merry! And feast we did.
The menu included antipasto of a terrine with local cheese raschera and cardi (which is a white thistle-like vegetable I have never seen elsewhere – it is used a lot in the Langhe cuisine and is beautiful raw, with bagna cauda, or cooked with egg and cheese). Then the star of the meal – the bollito, served with three sauces, salsa verde (green sauce made with parsley, anchovies, garlic, oil, boiled egg, bread soaked in vinegar); salsa rossa or bagnet russ in Piedmontese dialect (red sauce, made with tomatoes and garlic) and salsa tonnata (tuna sauce, made with mayonnaise, tuna and anchovies). Following the bollito, serving as a sort of palate cleanser, was the agnolotti del plin in brodo (filled pasta ‘pinched’ closed, cooked in the meat broth). And the pasta was incredibly all handmade with the tender love and care of the butcher’s wife, Mariagrazia Bozzoli and daughter, Martina Sandrone. And for dessert, Madernassa pears cooked in red wine and panna cotta. All this paired with local wines and digestifs – a great menu, all inclusive for EUR30.
His bollito is clearly well-loved, and he seemed like a local superstar because every time he walked in and out of the tent he got a standing ovation. To complete the jovial atmosphere, there was a roaming band belting out Italian ballads, and some traditional Piedmontese classics.
All in all, a fantastic event, and great way to try one of the classic Piedmontese dishes of the winter.
Eleanor Fletcher - living in the heart of the Langhe, Monforte D'Alba (Barolo). Searching for great eats, formidable drinks and fun times. Married to a Barolo and Barbaresco producer, plus a mother of two 'principesse'.