This region offers a wonderful range of foods including the famous Nutella. This iconic Italian spread originated when Napoleon imposed an embargo on British goods entering French-controlled ports, which included northern Italy at that time. This resulted in a shortage of chocolate and so to stretch what was available it was mixed with locally available hazelnuts ground into paste and sugar and known as gianduja. You will see it available as little ingots, known as gianduiotti, usually wrapped in gold or silver foil.
For those who prefer something more savoury, south of Turin is the town of Alba where the best white truffles come from. Scientifically known as tuber magnatum, these little flavour bombs grow underground near oak and hazelnut trees and are hunted down from September to December. They are very highly prized and the dogs that can sniff them out command staggering prices with the best truffle hounds fetching upward of €20,000. To unleash the flavour of this delight enjoy it shaved into paper-thin slices and served over a range of dishes, from pasta and risotto to eggs.
Less expensive but full of flavour and very Piemontese is vitello tonnato. Made from sliced boiled veal served cold under a mayonnaise made with tuna – a sort of Italian surf and turf – there are many variations on the basic theme including ingredients such as anchovies and capers.
Finally, no review of Piemontese cuisine, no matter how brief, would be complete without mention of bagna càuda a hot dipping sauce whose origins go back to the 16th century. The main ingredients are olive oil, anchovies and garlic and it is often served fondue style in a pot with a candle underneath it to keep it hot. It is eaten by dipping raw or cooked vegetables into it.