Food and Wine in Franciacorta
1 August 2016
A feast for gourmet Franciacorta boasts a very distinctive gastronomic tradition, a duet of two culinary cultures: the farmer’s meat-based cuisine in the interior, in conversation with Lake Iseo’s culture of fish.
Fine foods and traditional products:
The two most traditional dishes are Rovato beef with olive oil and oven-baked stuffed tench. The first reflects Rovato’s historical role as an important meat-production centre, dating back to the centuries of Venetian rule, while the second is a specialty of Clusane, a small fishing village near Lake Iseo. Linking the two dishes together is polenta, which, today just as much as in the past, appears as an inseparable component of both. But Franciacorta is also highlyrespected for its bolliti, mixed boiled meats, testifying to the exceptional quality of the local meats. Presented by the restaurants in elaborate carts and on spits as well, bolliti appear in the autumn, with interesting variations, in innumerable trattorie, in particular those in Gussago, alongside game and mushrooms. As to fish, which arrives fresh caught from nearby Sebino, the selections include tench, char, whitefish, eel, and the so called grilled sardines, which are actually aole or other small fish dried in the sun, preserved in oil, then cooked over the coals.
First courses include potato gnocchi, and casonsei, or Brescia-style ravioli, plus tortelli and strangolapreti (small spinach gnocchi); dessert features bossola, a close relative of Verona’s pandoro, and the Lombard classic torta di rose. Franciacorta enjoys many traditional food products: among the cheeses, in particular, are Brescia’s Robiola, various Stracchinos, Pressato, Salva, Silter, and the DOP Gorgonzola, Grana Padano, Provolone Valpadana, and Quartirolo Lombardo. Then there are the missoltini, or small sun-dried lake fish, the honeys, sausages and cured meats, such as Monte Isola’s subtly-smoked salami, and the Ret from Capriolo. Sebino’s extravirgin olive oil is outstanding, made in accord with a very rigorous production code and currently in limited supply. The grappas, made from Franciacorta wine, are celebrated, as are the local artisanal pastries.