Tag: Piedmont

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Ossolano / Ossolano d’Alpe

The Ossolano cheese round is characterised by a pale green colour.
The Ossolano d’Alpe cheese round is characterised by a pale brown colour.

Every Saturday morning Giorgio and Claudia Battaglia park their food truck containing cheese, cured meats and salami in the Piazza Arturo dell’Oro in the heart of Domodossola, the principle alpine town of Piedmont in north-west Italy. Sometimes, usually Thursdays and Fridays, they can be found in the Piazza Mercato in the old town, now restored to its former glory.

They have a thriving business, and that it is be expected because this is a region that has pride in its local foods. Giorgio and Claudia know this. They arrived with their truck only three years ago. Now they sell everything the food artisans and food producers of Piedmontese have to offer, like the absolutely delicious Ossolano cheeses.


With its delicate aroma, Ossolano is a melt-in-the-mouth experience – a semi-hard cheese that is among the best of its kind in the alpine regions, significantly the cheese made by producers who utilise the organoleptic qualities of the high pastures. It has a buttery flavour, enhanced by a deep floral taste of hazelnuts and walnuts, and the feeling that cheese like this is truly a food of the gods.


The alpine Ossolano is also known as Grasso d’Alpe. This mountain cheese, especially the cheese from the Bettelmatt and Monscera alps, is revered among cheese aficionados because the cows feed on the mountain pasture.

Whole raw summer milk from the Bruna Alpine and Grey Alpine breeds is used. Aged for a minimum of 60 days at 10º-14°C, seasoning ranges from three to 14 months.

Winter hay-fed cows produce milk that has a different fat composition. This has a subtle effect on the quality of the cheese. Therefore the summer cheese is preferred to the winter cheese.

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Fontina

Fontina ITALY mountain cheese


Legendary Dishes | Bryndzové Halušky (potato dumplings with cheese)


To egg or not is the question good cooks ignore when making perfect potato dumplings (gnocchi in Italy). The addition of eggs is associated with Alsace and Piedmont where the technique aids the kneading process, but produces harder gnocchi. The Alsace version calls for larger pieces, shaped between two spoons. A ratio of 2:1 raw grated potatoes to cooked puréed potatoes is mixed with two eggs and sufficient flour to make a smooth paste. These gnocchi are seasoned with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. In Veneto expert gnocchi makers select potatoes that will not absorb too much flour and hold their shape while cooking. A 4:1 ratio of boiling potatoes to white flour should produce the light fluffy effect demanded by gnocchi aficionados but beware, there are some difficulties. Marcella Hazan gives one of the best descriptions for shaping Veneta gnocchi using the prongs of a fork. She recommends small gnocchi, 2.5 x 2 cm pieces, which are pressed against the inside prongs and flipped toward the handle of the fork.

‘When gnocchi are shaped in this manner,  the middle section is thinner and becomes more tender in cooking, while the ridges become grooves for the sauce to cling to.

In Slovakia, where they marry old potatoes to a tangy sheep‘s cheese called bryndza, the debate is also a matter of preference. The traditional method for making bryndzové halušky is without eggs and a high potato to flour ratio of 5 to 1. Then try eating bryndzové halušky with a 3 to 1 ratio made with egg, coated with grated cheese and sour cream, and served with more cream! A recipe for gnocchi is in the potato section.

500 g Agata / Agria / Bintje potatoes, cubed small, blended to a purée
300 g bryndza cheese, grated
250 g Oravská údená slanina / smoked bacon, cubed 
200 ml smetana / sour cream 
100 g white wheat flour, t550
1 egg
Salt, large pinch

In a large bowl work puréed potatoes, egg, flour and salt into a paste. Ideally you need an halušky pan, but anything with with round holes about 1 cm in diameter will do the job. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, push the paste through the holes, cook until the small dumplings rise to the surface, about eight minutes. Drain, retaining cooking liquid. Spoon 100 ml of the liquid into a bowl with the cheese, fork and whisk into a thin sauce. If desired mix half of the sour cream into the sauce. Fry the bacon until the fat runs, drain the fat and crisp bacon for three minutes, turning constantly. Arrange the halušky in a separate bowl, cover with cheese sauce, top with the bacon. Serve with cream.

INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS = Agata Potato | Agria Potato  | Bintje PotatoBryndza Cheese | Smoked Bacon | Soft Wheat