One of the joys of skiing in
is the opportunity to take in a long, relaxing pranzo (lunch). The slopes become deserted for an hour or two as the Italians combine their two favourite pastimes, families and eating. Bardonecchia is no exception and the restaurants on the slopes offer a great range of traditional Italian fayre to satisfy every taste. Italy
If you merely want to grab a sandwich then you will need to check out the selection of panini (rolls) or piadine (Italian flatbread) which you can eat cold or toasted. Confusingly, there are three types of ham on offer, prosciutto cotto (cooked ham), prosciutto crudo or speck (cured hams). All are delicious, especially the combination of speck and brie. Another favourite to watch out for is scamorza affumicata (like smoked mozzarella) which is wonderful in a toasted sandwich.
However, your Italian ski break will not be complete unless you take the plunge and go for the multiple course lunch experience. It can be quite daunting at first to discover that most Italian restaurants do not see the need for a written menu, the waiter will simply reel off a list of the dishes of the day, but armed with a modicum of food vocabulary and a bit of perseverance you will be well rewarded.
Start with antipasti, a range of small appetising dishes before the pasta course. The region’s most famous antipasto dish, bagna cauda (vegetables dipped fondue-style into a "hot bath" of oil, anchovies, and garlic), combines both the Piemontese passion for garlic and their love of vegetables but may prove too much of an acquired taste for the average British lunch-time palate. An alternative would be to sample a range of Italian cold meats so select affettati misti (mixed slices) for a generous platter of salami, meats and pickles which is perfect to share.
Options for the pasta course will prove more familiar with spaghetti and ravioli always on the menu. A speciality to listen out for is agnolotti, pasta stuffed with beef, pork or rabbit, flavoured with sausage, parmesan cheese, eggs and herbs.
The main course gives you the opportunity to learn to love polenta, golden-yellow Italian cornmeal made from dried, ground maize. Just as the British incorporate mashed potato into the most wholesome meals Italians heap cinghiale (wild boar), cervo (deer), salsicce (sausages) or formaggio (cheese) onto mounds of fluffy polenta. If you’ve previously been “polenta-ed out” then opt for gnocchi (small potato dumplings) or canederli similar to gnocchi but made with stale bread which are both particularly delicious served in burro e salvia (butter and sage).
Most Italian dolci are already firm favourites on British dessert menus and so need little explanation. One that may be less familiar is bonet a chocolate creation which bears some resemblance in consistency to a spongy crème caramel.
Complete your meal with a caffè. Unless you specify otherwise you will be brought an espresso as this is caffè normale in
. Order an americano (long black), macchiato (splash of milk) or caffè latte if you prefer a more dilute caffeine fix. If you are being strictly Italian then confine your selection of a cappuccino to breakfast time although coffee customs have relaxed somewhat in recent years and this will no longer be so frowned upon. Italy
Now replete your only problem will be contemplating an immediate return to the slopes. So, again, follow the Italians in seeking out a sdraio (deckchair) on the nearest sun-drenched terrazza to steal a few more minutes of la dolce vita.