The “Langhe” is a historical region of Piedmont, located at the turn of the provinces of Cuneo and Asti, consisting of hills, vineyards and castles.
It can be divided into Bassa Langa, Alta Langa and Langa Astigiana. The Bassa Langa is the area of Alba, wines and truffles; the Alta Langa is the area on the border with Liguria, here dominate the woods and the cultivation of the prized variety of hazelnuts “tonda gentile delle Langhe”; the Langa Astigiana is the area in the south of the province of Asti.
In 2014 UNESCO officially included the Langhe in the list of World Heritage properties.
This small area of Piedmont is worth to be visited, to admire the beautiful landscapes. You can visit many castles that dot the hills, or the rich cellars often open to the public.
The area stands out for its renowned wine production: the wines produced in the Langhe are famous all over the world (
Equally famous is the Alba White Truffle, for which every year in the city of the same name is held a specially dedicated fair that attracts many visitors even beyond national borders.
There are also many PDO kinds of cheese, first of all, Robiola di Roccaverano.
Another product that we cannot forget is the Tonda Gentile Hazelnut, universally recognized as the best hazelnut in the world, it is one of the pride of Italian agro-food tradition. Its characteristics of excellence make it particularly appreciated by the confectionery industry, crowning it the undisputed queen of the refined Piedmontese pastry. It distinguishes itself from other varieties for the particular fragrance, the excellent olfactory and gustative persistence after the scalding and the complex aromatic profile, in addition, it has a high nutritive and energetic value. These qualitative peculiarities have earned it an important record: it is, in fact, the first Piedmontese product to have received the coveted IGP brand.
From Gianduiotto to “Bacio di Dama”, from chocolate truffles to cakes, from biscuits to ice-cream: the Tonda Gentile Hazelnut is an essential ingredient of many sweets, among the most loved in Italy. Today this extraordinary raw material is, in fact, the key ingredient of niche and high-quality confectionery. An irreplaceable ingredient of Gianduja chocolate and the base of the hazelnut cake, this fruit is also used, bordering for a moment in the “salted” cooking, to enrich sauces and sauces, or as a side dish for roasts, paired with cheeses or with desserts base of dried fruit and honey.
To make famous a fruit as poor as hazelnut, it was its use, thanks to the intuition of Michele Prochet, as a basic ingredient of “Gianduiotto” (a nut-based little piece of chocolate). Due to an exorbitant increase in the cost of cocoa in Europe due to the continental block imposed by Napoleon, Michele Prochet had the brilliant intuition of replacing in the dough of the Gianduiotto part of the cocoa with a product very present in the territory: the hazelnut Tonda Gentile, from characteristic sweet and delicate taste. Initially marketed under the name of “Givù”, or “Cicca”, due to its characteristic inverted boat shape, it acquired the name of “Gianduiotto” in 1865, reprising it from the famous Gianduia mask.
Although gianduia pasta is the most famous declination of hazelnut in the world of dessert, there are many traditional preparations of which the round cake is an essential component. Starting from the “Torta di Nocciole”, a typical sweet from the south of Piedmont, once widespread above all during the Christmas period. The secret of the success of this recipe is all in the toasting of the hazelnuts and not to grind them too thinly.
Another typical Piedmontese dessert, which would not exist without this ingredient, is the “Bacio di Dama” (Kiss of Checkers): famous round-shaped hazelnut biscuits, joined together by a delicious layer of dark chocolate. Also worthy of mention are Truffles, delicious pralines, with white or black chocolate, enriched with hazelnut. And again, the “brut e bon” (ugly and good): biscuits made with hazelnuts and almonds.
In addition to being a fundamental ingredient of quality pastry, the round soft hazelnut is used to make the most famous gianduja cream in the world: Nutella, whose story begins in Alta Langa. Since 1946, Pietro Ferrero began selling a chocolate and hazelnut paste, the “Pasta Giandujot” sold in cut blocks. In 1951 the “Supercrema” was born, a cream preserved and sold in large jars. To get Nutella, as we know it, we have to wait until 1964, when the first Nutella jar came out of the factory, a name that derives from the English “nut” or “nut”.
For some years now, the area has been a renowned destination for food and wine tourism thanks to its excellent products, some of the typical dishes of this place are: “egg Tajarin”, “Agnolotti del Plin” with roast sauce or butter and sage, the “Braised with Barolo”, “Piedmontese Mixed Fried”, “Bra (beef) Sausage and knife-cut tartare”.
A meal in the Langhe is always remembered with pleasure, for the genuineness of the ingredients, the love for tradition and the care in every detail.
So, if you go prepare yourself for an endless series of appetizers, first courses, main courses and desserts, delicious and absolutely indispensable. In the Langhe you do not go to eat a bite and away, you stop to consume a real sensory experience. Wear wide pants if you go there! 🙂