Many Italians still enjoy the family tradition of the Sunday lunch - il pranzo della domenica. It is a happy occasion to meet with the whole family around the table and eat while catching up and gossiping. Traditionally, families meet at mamma's because her cuisine has the magic power of bringing us back to our childhood years.
In Italian more than in any other language and culture the expression "there's nothing like mamma's food" is true, but nowadays many families have decided to give a break to mamma, at least on Sundays or on big family celebrations, and treat her at the restaurant to allow her to enjoy the meal too.
For these special Sunday lunches or family celebrations the restaurant of choice is usually a small, family owned business where the food is almost as genuine as what we eat home and naturally, these are the kind of experiences travelers can't never have in Italy because their families aren't traveling with them and because these special restaurants are not on tourist guides or in areas where international travelers normally go to.
In Piedmont we are lucky because good food, genuine ingredients and family traditions are still very strongly felt and many areas offer tiny yet high quality restaurants where we can feel at home and relax with our families while savoring local specialties our mom doesn't usually make or that require long hours of preparations.
A couple of weeks ago we had friends visiting from abroad and so we took advantage and decided to give them this unique cultural experience: the Sunday lunch in Piedmont right the way we do it with our very own families.
Here in the boot, or at least here up north, the Sunday lunch usually lasts longer than a regular lunch because the menu tends to include many courses; different breaks are taken between dishes and the wine is usually from local family owned wineries.
To provide a full culinary experience to our friends, we picked La Fornte Solforosa, a rustic small restaurant at about one hour driving from Turin. Here the Sunday lunch is a real tradition and especially in the cold season, people rush every week to enjoy the fritto misto or Piedmontese fried mix dish.
This small restaurant is conveniently located near different wineries all producing excellent regional wines like Freisa by Cascina Gilli, Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Barbera and Bonarda. So, the road to the restaurant is particularly scenic because it crosses the vineyards and goes up and down vine covered hills.
|porcini mushroom risotto|
With their eyes filled with the vine rows, our friends sat down at the table expecting a "regular lunch" made of 5 courses. They knew they would need to save room for a bit of everything but they would have never imagined to be served 9 courses in just one lunch.
As it happens in many such places, the owner is a jack of all trades having learned and inherited the profession directly from his mom! this is how we were served by the chef-owner who was also acting as a waiter.
The restaurant was full and all of us 40 guests were synced on the same menu which was designed according to the ingredients seasonal availability and it included:
- 5 antipastos
- 2 primi courses
- 2 meat courses
- one of a series of regional desserts
We started eating at 1pm when the chef waiter served us cured meats, then a heavenly tartare-like hand-chopped raw veal, roasted veal topped with tuna mayo, artisan tomini cheese with the green sauce of basil, parsley, garlic and EVO. Our antipasto series finished with a glorious gorgonzola topped polenta.
|agnolottini del plin|
Then it was the turn of the primo aka the pasta or rice dish: a delish porcini mushroom risotto was followed by homemade agnolottini del plin - Piedmontese meat filled ravioli with Bolognese sauce.
We took a short break before resuming our lunch with the secondo: a super tender red wine braised roast and then a rabbit with roasted potatoes.
By the time we finished this meat we were already pretty full even though sipping some Bonarda and some Freisa helped our digestion.
|extra fluffy tiramisu'|
As our dishes got collected, we were asked what we would feel like having among the following desserts:
- Piedmontese baked peaches with chocolate and amaretto cookies
- bundt cake with grapes, apples and pears
- creme caramel
- fruit salad
It goes without saying we all tried a different dessert but we all ejoyed it with a glass of bubbly and Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco.
After paying the bill and thanking the owner-chef-waiter for his hospitality and sense of humor, we relaxed walking in a nearby vineyard listening to the birds' songs.
Now you know how relaxing and flavorful a Sunday lunch can be in Piedmont!