Friday, April 9, 2010

Where to Eat the Best Pizzocheri in Valtellina

Or at least one of the best. 

Having family and friends in Valtellina, along with the many weekends we spend here, alot of pizzoccheri gets eaten.  I've written before about pizzoccheri, the national buckwheat, potato and cabbage pasta dish of Valtellina, here.   Not surprising is the fact that the best pizzoccheri is found at home cooked by mum.  That's where the real butter and bitto cheese is used, and in high quantities.

When you can't get the homemade stuff, then the restaurant version will have to do.  But not all restaurant version pizzoccheri are made equal.  Some are definitely better than others.  When we have friends in town and want to take them to sample pizzoccheri, we take them to Ai Tigli, in Teglio, the birthplace of pizzoccheri, not far from Sondrio.

And that's exactly where we ended up taking our friends from Milan, after they spent the night in the mountains.  Well, the initial plan was to hike up the snowy trail to a Rifugio Palu and have lunch there, but it the day was just too cold.  So the alternative?  Go eat some more! 

We started out with their affetati misti, which featured lardo that was totally melt-in-your-mouth.  Why does fatty stuff always taste so good?

Then we had the other local specialty called sciatt.  I also described them here and they are basically pieces of the local Casera cheese, coated in a buckwheat flour batter and deep-fried.  They do it well here.  Um... how to describe good sciatt?  It's good when it's 'light' and not greasy even if deep-fried, with a slightly crispy outer layer and soft gooey inside?  Well, I think you just have to eat them a couple times to know.

And then the pièce de résistance, pizzoccheri.  The strands of buckwheat pasta deliciously coated with melted cheese and soft chunks of potatoes and cabbage.  Yes, I've learnt to appreciate this rich dish.  (On a side note, when my dad visited, he actually finished a whole plate of this and loved it.  Totally unexpected considering how different this is from the Asian palate.)

Some others also ordered the polenta with meat, another typical dish of Northern Italy.  It was good too.  We had the Le Tense Sassella wine that is made from grapes grown on the slopes just across the valley from Stefano's home.  A very good yet affordable wine.

 Everyone was satisfied with their meal and vowed to come back.

Ristorante Ai Tigli 
Via Besta, 13 23036 Teglio (SO)

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