Pleasures of taste in Montecampione
What to eat in Valcamonica
In a land rich with history and tradition like Val Camonica, the first Italian site to get on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites for its extraordinary petroglyphs, where beauty lies in the uniqueness of its uncontaminated nature, the sacredness of its monasteries, churches and abbeys, the culture is also expressed through the culinary arts.
In the specialty dishes of Valle dei Segni (Valley of Signs) you will notice the flavours and aromas of the mountains and the waters that come together gently in this region to form an enchanted countryside.
At Montecampione, the presence of the mountain, the lake and the woods satisfies every taste, offering choices of many dishes of meat, freshwater fish, and tasty cheeses and fruits of the land.
To make your mouth water, when it comes to the typical first courses in the cuisine of Valcamonica and Brescia, we must mention casoncelli, called casonsei in dialect, delicious ravioli filled with meat or vegetables, seasoned with butter and sage.
Among the second courses, the specialties are stews, like cuz, a mutton stew, which cooks for at least three hours in its own fat, or donkey stew, but don’t pass over salted meats and game with their bold flavours.
For those who adore seafood, the whitefish and perch are prized, along with sun-dried or grilled sardines. The side dish par excellence is of course corn or buckwheat polenta, so good that they go nicely, not just with second courses of meat and fish but also first courses like càicc, a special ravioli in the Breno area.
Prepare for the sausages to spoil you, especially the mutton sausage, the famous strinù, succulent sausages barbecued or grilled, and violins, goat or sheep hams that got their name because they are carved by holding them in your hands just as if you were playing a violin.
There are excellent cheeses, like the fatulì, goat cheese plain or flavoured with herbs, casolet and bagoss. You will discover the heavenly combination of cheese with superb honey, produced every year by an army of tireless bees that populate the forests of Val Camonica.
Forget your diet and don’t skip dessert: sample the spongada, a sugary, soft focaccia, and chestnut flour biscuits and cakes. To help you digest everything you will appreciate some grappas, distillates and bitters, made with mountain herbs.
After an intense day spent on skis in Valcamonica, a pleasant walk or invigorating bicycle ride, there is nothing better than to take refuge in a welcoming local restaurant where you can relax and lose yourself in the pleasure of the exquisite products of this magical land. In Montecampione you certainly won’t lack for gracious restaurants and picturesque chalets in which you can discover all the gastronomic delicacies of the Camuna tradition.
If you were just skiing near Prato Secondino, you can, without even taking off your skis, get to the Baita dello Sciatore (Skier’s Chalet), where the geniality of the staff and the generous portions will make you feel at home. At a height of 1450 metres, in this fantastic wood chalet, from which you can admire the surrounding mountains in all their glory, you can order delicious pizzoccheri, some excellent red gnocchi or tagliolini, all made by hand. For your next course, don’t miss the succulent pork tenderloin with truffle and, for dessert, you will be entranced by a matchless strawberry tiramisù.
A welcoming atmosphere and excellence are the right words to describe the Ristorante La Piazzetta di Montecampione. It will be difficult to resist unique goodies like classic porcini mushroom risotto, the wonderful bigoli pasta alla camuna, the tempting chestnut caserecci and the obligatory casonsei.
If the first course doesn’t fill you up, you’ll have a wide choice of second courses, with filets al barolo wine, the jugged venison, the pork shank, and rabbit “alla camuna”, with a customary side of polenta. Leave a little room for dessert, because mouth-watering sweets, all fresh and homemade, like the traditional spongada, the berry tart or the buckwheat cakes with jam and chopped hazelnuts, will delight even those who didn’t start off as fans.
Right across from the little lake of Montecampione, which turns into an enchanting skating rink in winter, you will find the Bar Ristorante Il Laghetto, where you can enjoy luscious mushrooms in puff pastry, braised beef with polenta and, for dessert, a delicious apple tart.
In every restaurant you can, of course, accompany your meals with prized wines, like the bottles of Franciacorta, but that is a different story… Our next chapter!