It was misty and foggy the day we arrived in Camagna Monferrato, Piedmont, Italy. At midday the mist still hadn't lifted but this made for a beautiful vista across the countryside. Camagna Monferrato is a little village in the heart of Piedmont from where my husband's family originates and it was with great emotion that he took his first glimpse of the oft'spoken village.
The landscape in this part of Italy is truly beautiful. I could never get tired of looking our my window at this sight! With its cool climate and history undiscovered it is a pleasure to spend time wandering in these parts. Part of the Monferrato region which also comprises of the provinces of Asti and Alessandria, this area is renowned for its red and sparking white wines. However, in our travels we noticed that much of the vineyards had been abandoned. We were told that, as in many places, the farmer was not making a living growing grapes and many have left for secure jobs in the city. These villages are now home to only a select few residents.
Camagna still has a wonderful bakery, of which we had a personal tour, that bakes amazing bread and a store full of everything you could need.
We had a whirlwind two days with cousin Renato and Carla enjoying their company, the sights and Carla's wonderful food. Traditional cusine of this area includes delicous pastas, meats, cheeses and vegetables. One of the most noteworthy and well known is Bagna Càuda. This is a delicous anchovy and garlic warm dip that we regularly enjoy thousands of kilometres away in Australia. Not for the diet conscious this dip includes a generous amount of butter and oil and is served with a range of vegetables for dipping.
Of course, Carla treated us with her Bagna Càuda not as a dip but as a sauce adorning ripe, red capscium.
Bagna Càuda can be varied to suit your taste but remember it is not meant to be a mild flavour, it is supposed to tantilise the taste buds with abundant robust flavours.
I hope you try and bring a little piece of Piedmont into your home.
(as a sauce to coat vegetables)
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100ml olive oil
Place the oil and garlic into a cold pan and place over a gentle flame to allow the garlic to soften but not colour, it should take 10 or 15 minutes.
Add the butter and continue cooking over a gentle flame.
Add the anchovies.
Allow the anchovies to melt and meld into the sauce, all the while over a gentle flame.
Have ready some lightly steamed vegetables, in my case red capsicum, and pour the sauce over.
Serve with plenty of crusty bread to mop up your plate.