Three ingredients: Lake Garda, of heartbreakingly beautiful under the Sun, delicate in the rain, melancholy with the fog. A very active country that has built its economy on agricultural work and now also on tourism. A high GI competition organized by Associazione nazionale città del Castagno. Here's my weekend in San Zeno di Montagna, the small town of 1400 inhabitants in Verona, where I was called to be part of the jury for the ninth edition of the national competition of pastry made with chestnuts and where I spent three days learning about a product, the Brown Dop of San Zeno, and its territory. Despite the 2014 has been a particularly difficult year for the production of Italian chestnut,partly due to unfavorable climate in part for parasites (the Oriental chestnut gall wasp), the quality is not. It showed that this versatile food product made in Italy has been, In addition to the invitation to tender recipes (about 60 from different Italian regions), also the Festival which involved restaurants, with traditional and creative dishes: from Taverna Kus at the restaurant Costabella (where among other things I could try for you the award-winning best cappuccino of Lake Garda: Rating 8). All dishes (from chestnut soup to Brown, from veal with chestnuts to the risotto to get of course to desserts), have been proposed in conjunction with the wines of the province of Verona, in particular the Bardolino, in its classic version and the spoonbill (the Claret), with an eye to using black truffle dishes of Baldo and Monte Veronese cheese, other agri-food excellence of the centers of the mountain community.
Real natural terrace on the Lake, San Zeno di Montagna, with his gaze towards the Lombardy shore of Garda, from Desenzano to Toscolano Maderno, starting in the 20 organizes the Chestnut Festival, come to the present day in the form of exhibition of Brown Dop (more than 4 thousand this year visitors from Trentino, Veneto and Lombardy), It boasts the first product of chestnut security branded Italian of the European Union. A product that is sold during the fair, where you can also find cheese, meats and other agrifood excellences veneto, but lombardo I made extensive hoarding. For the President of the consortium of producers, Simone Campagnari, and his assistant Ugo's Ruckus’ Bonafini there is a quality to be preserved (through a very severe disciplinary) and to be valued together with the territory. The Brown of San Zeno, that is harvested between 250 and 900 meters above sea level, It is characterized by a sweet taste, mellow and full. Of course I brought home a couple of kilos, partly collected by my hands directly under trees, and soon I will propose tasty recipes, both savoury and sweet made with this kind and generous fruit that I love always, ever since, still a child, I asked my mother to let me roasted chestnuts. Among other things, This year production was really narrow and the chestnuts have gone literally exhausted during the first three weekends, so that when I arrived it seemed almost impossible to find some. Then, collecting chestnuts (the latest) When there are no more chestnut is a truly priceless.
The consortium of producers of Brown Dop of San Zeno di Montagna, to close the circle around their flagship product, have decided to propose also a beer based on chestnut (Castanea, This is the name, made with advice from a master brewer of the Po Valley, between Cremona and Mantova). Production limited to a few thousand bottles, but good idea and good drink, can be combined with various recipes (sale price of about 10 euros).
A closer look at the top, than the main Township of San Zeno, and you get into territory of pastures, with areas to pastures alternating with thick chestnut woods, where the breeders who carry on those trades and knowledge that have always characterized the economy of San Zeno before it became also a tourist destination, in the traditional produce and serve cheese, ricotta, cheeses and meats of cattle raised in the wild, as in the Saints ' historic hut Baito, dating back to 1919 and still active today. I'm used, for those curious to know who won the contest of pastry, WINS were for the category desserts (professionals) a fabulous panettone with Browns, for the puddings (professionals) a delicious Brown, for the puddings (amateurs) Another Brown and for category biscuits and leavened (amateurs) a dust ruffle cake with chestnut flour.