If you are planning a trip to the Aosta Valley, join me in the culinary tradition of this wonderful region and discover authentic Aosta Valley cuisine!
The Aosta Valley, the smallest region in Italy, is a land that offers unique natural scenery, famous tourist resorts, castles, archaeological sites, amazing villages and towns – the most famous ones are Aosta, Saint-Vincent and Courmayeur. This land also offers the traveler a long food and wine tradition. Tourists will feel fulfilled in their soul by observing the wonderful landscapes and will be able to satisfy their palate by tasting the typical dishes of the Aosta Valley.
Valle d’Aosta cuisine tells the ancient story of the Alpine territory and its special features. The specialties of this region are based on rustic, simple products with unique flavors that give life to unrepeatable dishes, thanks to the ancient preparations that have been handed down for centuries. Raw materials come directly from the cultivated land such as corn, rye and vegetables, and from mountain pastures such as milk and cheese. This is because, since ancient times, the inhabitants of this valley, enclosed between the mountains, were forced to live only on local products from animal husbandry and agriculture.
Every typical Aosta Valley product is loved by travelers because of its unforgettable taste, such as: PDO Fontina cheese, butter, Valle d’Aosta tiles and PDO Lardo d’Arnad. These are just a few of the PDO and PGI products that this region gives to the visitor. This region has given birth to a recipe book where mountain tradition blends with influences from beyond the Alps, with preparations dating back to ancient times.
If you are curious to know more about the typical dishes of the Aosta Valley, follow me and be inspired for a food and wine journey that is truly worth experiencing. You’ll find out why just by reading this article! 👇
The most popular Aosta Valley food specialties
1. Appetizers: cured meat and cheese platter
Getting to the heart of the culinary tradition of the Aosta Valley, it is evident that one of the most characteristic elements of the Aosta Valley gastronomy is the abundance of cheeses and cured meats.
Among the cheeses, the following cannot be missed: Toma di Gressoney, a cow’s milk cheese characterized by a compact paste and savory taste typical of the Lys Valley; Fontina PDO, produced in the Aosta Valley since the 13th century, is a cheese with an intense aroma and sweet flavor; and Fromadzo VAD PDO, with a unique flavor to be enjoyed both fresh and aged.
Cured meats include Lardo di Arnad PDO, with a delicate, aromatic and spicy aroma and a flavor tending toward sweet; Jambon de Bosses PDO, a cured ham defined by the aromas of juniper, thyme, hay and mountain herbs; mocetta, a typical aromatic cured meat made from the leaner parts of the cow’s thigh; boudin, a salami with a bright color and delicate taste; and Saint-Marcel ham, with its unmistakable flavor.
2. Focaccia valdostana
It is hard to resist in front of the focaccia from the Aosta Valley, which is perfect at any time of the day: it accompanies appetizers, a great snack or even as a single dish. It is stuffed with Fontina or ham for a packed lunch to take on a trip or to share with friends. A Valle d’Aosta specialty enjoyed by everyone, young and old.
How can we not mention the fondue typical of Valle d’Aosta cuisine. It is usually prepared with Fontina d’Alpeggio PDO. It is a dish to be served steaming directly at the table in the characteristic crock. It should definitely be served with rye flour croutons. A tasty dish to enjoy and share with friends and family at a mountain lodge.
4. Polenta concia
During your vacation, especially in the cold winter season, you can’t fail to replenish your energy by eating traditional polenta concia. This typical Aosta Valley dish is topped with tasty meat sauces, mushrooms from the surrounding forests, sausage and melted butter. A real treat!
5. Gnocchi alla bava
A characteristic first course, always present on a Valle d’Aosta menu. The peculiarity of this dish is the fact that the gnocchi are not made with potatoes, but with a mix of flours: from 00 flour to rustic buckwheat flour. The softness of the gnocchi is combined with creamy and stringy Fontina DOP, hence the name “gnocchi alla bava” (in English, saliva). A simple recipe prepared with quality ingredients that make this a traditional and highly successful dish.
6. Crêpes alla valdostana
This first course does not require long preparation time. It is the ideal dish for Sunday lunch, excellent when filled with Fontina cheese and ham. There are many variations of these crêpes and different occasions to eat them. Delicious after being baked in the oven, golden and crispy, they are ready to be served on the table still warm and stringy.
These are cornmeal dumplings that are only cooked in boiling water. Fontina cheese or, in some cases, cooked rice can be added. The whole thing can be cooked in the oven, resulting in super crispy Chnolle. The perfect dish to eat in the winter time.
8. The Carbonade valdostana
A beef main course with a full-bodied flavor. The name comes from the “charcoal color” the meat takes on during the long cooking in red wine, preferably in an earthenware casserole. The tender stew is made even more appetizing by the scent of bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves that the dish absorbs during cooking. It is the perfect dish to eat in the winter time at mountain lodges. Pair it with a plate of polenta or creamy mashed potatoes while drinking a good glass of red wine such as Valle d’Aosta Donnas.
9. Seupa à la Vapelenentse
Dish that tells the story of this land. The ingredients used to be essential components of a poor dish, while now they make this dish tasty and well-known. It is mostly eaten on feast days. The meat broth with carrots, onions and white Savoy cabbage, combined with bread and Fontina cheese, form a refined and nutritious dish. It is a recipe from typical Aosta Valley cuisine that grandparents and great-grandparents used to cook, passed down through generations. The municipality of Valpelline organizes a festival in honor of this soup on the last weekend of July.
If you are looking for a typical Valdostan dish that is both tasty and satiating, soça is the one for you. It is a beef pie combined with Savoy cabbage, potatoes, and of course Fontina cheese. It is baked in the oven and served hot. During the cold winter days of your trip to the Aosta Valley, it will warm you up and satisfy you!
11. Pèilà nèira
Moving to the Cogne area, this is a typical dish of the Aosta Valley tradition. Entire generations grew up eating this delicate cream, in fact it was a childhood staple for many years. The name means “black gruel” and comes from the fact that black rye bread is cooked with milk. Then melted butter, fried bread croutons and, ça va sans dire, diced Fontina cheese are added.
12. Costolette or Cotolette alla valdostana
Crispy on the outside, soft and stringy on the inside, slices of veal, stuffed with prosciutto cotto and fontina cheese, are one of the most typical main courses in the Aosta Valley. I recommend accompanying, during your lunches or dinners, these delicious cutlets with Valle d’Aosta Rosso, a lively wine that enhances the flavor of this meat.
Favò is a typical soup of Valle d’Aosta gastronomy. It is a poor but hearty dish that farmers used to prepare in the morning before leaving to go to the fields and then enjoy it in the evening, when they returned after a hard day’s work. The main ingredients of this dish are: fontina cheese, found in almost all dishes in this area, broad beans, pasta and rye bread. To taste the real favò recipe nowadays, you should go to Aymavilles, just 7 km from Aosta, where the typical festival dedicated to this dish takes place every year at the end of July.
After a long and tiring hike on Mont Blanc, Tartatiflette is the perfect specialty to eat. The French influence, due to the Aosta Valley’s proximity to France, is very present in this dish. It is a flan made from boiled potatoes, topped with onion, lard and Reblochon fondue. A caloric dish great for recovering your energy!
Among typical Aosta Valley dishes, you can’t miss this soup! Hot, rustic and tasty. It is prepared with leeks, stale rustic bread, fontina cheese, a good meat or vegetable broth and butter. All simple and genuine ingredients, but mouth watering!
A traditional dish of Valle d’Aosta cuisine is definitely Chnéffléne. Typical of the Gressoney-Saint-Jean area, they are dumplings made with flour, milk, eggs and salt. They are seasoned, of course, with Gressoney fondue, a local cheese.
17. Chamois Civet
This is a delicious second course with a delicate flavor. Its cooking is simple, but the preparation work takes a long time. In fact, after seasoning the meat in a mixture of onion, carrot, celery and garlic, to which spices such as sage, thyme, juniper berries and cloves are added, it is left to marinate for twelve hours in the refrigerator, and then cooked for about two hours. Chamois is highly prized in the Aosta Valley; in fact, the inhabitants are masters at handling it. Civet can be accompanied by steaming polenta.
18. Stuffed spleen
This is a tasty dish that belongs to the Aosta Valley tradition. It originated as a salvage dish to avoid waste, also called “poor man’s top”. The spleen is used as a pocket and is stuffed with leftover meat and offal seasoned with garlic, celery, parsley and Parmigiano cheese. The flavor is sweetish and can be accompanied by onions.
19. Fénis roulades
Originating in the village of Fénis, from which they take their name, they are one of the most popular typical Aosta Valley dishes. They consist of slices of sanitized veal stuffed with mocetta and Fontina cheese, closed like an involtino, cooked in meat stock and shaded with Brandy. At the end of cooking, cream is added and they are ready to be served!
20. Tegole valdostane
They are among the typical cookies of the Aosta Valley gastronomy. They reign on tables on cold winter evenings, especially during the holiday season. Crunchy, luscious and tasty, made of almonds, hazelnuts, sugar, eggs and flour, they are a real treat! Usually served as a dessert at the end of a meal, they can also be eaten as a snack accompanied by a cup of hot tea or coffee.
21. Valle d’Aosta-style coffee
Valle d’Aosta coffee is brewed in the friendship cup, a small, low, domed wooden vessel with a lid and fitted with spouts. An old Valle d’Aosta saying referring to this cup warns that “who drinks alone chokes”, and it is because of this tradition that, drunk in company, it becomes a very special drink. Diners pass the cup around, taking turns drinking very hot coffee and grappa with sugar and lemon peel from a spout.
This typical dish from the Aosta Valley is a dessert made with a leavened dough. This bread is enriched with almonds, walnuts, raisins and candied orange peel. It is traditionally baked in a wood-fired oven and is accompanied by whipped cream and local berries. A dessert you absolutely must take home as a souvenir!
23. Torcetti di Saint-Vincent
These are drop-shaped Aosta Valley treats made from bread dough to which sugar and butter are added. They are traditional cookies that are crumbly inside and crispy outside, thanks to the caramelized sugar on the surface. Eat them at the end of a meal by pairing them with a sweet but light wine. It is said that Queen Marguerite was crazy about them, try them yourself on your next vacation in the Aosta Valley!
This is a traditional delicacy from Valle d’Aosta, especially from Cogne. It is a sweet bread composed of flour, eggs, butter, milk and raisins, which is made to rise naturally. It used to be the typical Christmas dessert, while now it can be found all year round and in local bakeries. It is eaten as a dessert, but you can always accompany it with typical Aosta Valley meats and cheeses.
25. Cogne Cream
If strolling through the streets of the towns in Valle d’Aosta gives you a craving for a dessert, Cogne cream is the perfect option. It is a cream made with chocolate, cream, egg yolks and rum that is accompanied by traditional tegole valdostane, dry hazelnut and almond cookies. Its full, sweet taste, characterized by the presence of cocoa and chocolate, calls for sugary wines with good alcohol content, such as Valle D’Aosta Chambave Moscato Passito.
The best local wines to pair with Aosta dishes
Grapevines have been present in Valle d’Aosta since the Bronze Age, as evidenced by grape seeds found in archaeological areas.
Until a decade ago, wine production in the Aosta Valley was little known to the general public, both because of its geographical location and limited production. Today, vines are cultivated on terraces built on bold slopes to the extent that viticulture has been given the adjective “heroic”, steadily increasing the quality of production.
In 1992 the Aosta Valley DOC was established, which includes all the most significant wines of the Valley, sorted into sub-denominations. The DOC, which is of special importance because it has the value of a mark of authenticity for the best local wines, classifies about twenty wine appellations. A well-known red is Donnas, produced in the subzone formed by the communes of Donnas, Perloz, Pont-Saint-Martin and Bard. At the time of marketing, it presents a bright red color that tends to light garnet with age; the aroma is gentle, with reminiscences of almond; the taste is dry, velvety, with the right body. This wine is very suitable to accompany robust local dishes such as Civet di Camoscio.
Another renowned and appreciated wine is Enfer d’Arvier, produced in the Central Valley, in the area that includes part of the municipality of Arvier and the localities of Mombet and Bouse. When tasted, it presents a fairly intense garnet red color; it has a delicate aroma, with possible hints of wild rose; the flavor is dry, pleasantly aromatic and sometimes marked by sour cues. It can age a few years and goes well with savory first courses, main courses based on stewed white meats or grilled red meats.
A wine of particular interest, then, is the Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle produced in the municipalities of the same name in Valdigne, the highest section of the Aosta Valley; it comes from the highest vineyards in Europe and is therefore counted among the mountain vineyards. It has a straw-yellow color with green highlights; the delicate bouquet hints of mountain herbs, mountain hay and faint fruity notes; the flavor is dry, fresh, excellent as an aperitif and with delicate appetizers.
The Aosta Valley is famous not only for its wines, but also for grappa and genepy.
Grappa is made from the pomace of local grapes, i.e., the residue of winemaking, subjected to a distillation process. The excellence of the product is due to the high quality of the raw materials. Grappas can be flavored as honey grappa: sweet and velvety in flavor. It is, generally served after meals, at room temperature or hot: often added to the Valle d’Aosta-style coffee.
Genepy is a liqueur made by macerating the alpine herb artemisia, also called genepi, the harvesting of which is regulated. It grows wild above 2,000 meters above sea level in the summer months. The mugwort plants, fresh or dried, are macerated for forty days in contact with alcohol and then added with water and sugar. The resulting mixture is then filtered, bottled and left to age for several months. The final product reaches an alcohol content of between 35 and 40 degrees alcohol. Genepy has a yellow-green color; its aroma is vegetal and intense; and the taste is slightly bitter. It is a liqueur that is best served alone, generally to be sipped after meals.
The main events in the Aosta Valley to enjoy traditional food specialties
The Aosta Valley offers a varied calendar of events that will enrich your vacation:
- Marchè au fort: the most important wine and food exhibition-market in this region. In October, in the medieval village of Bard, you can discover all the flavors of the Aosta Valley.
- Black bread festival: takes place in Champorcher in July. Here you can taste the famous dark bread enriched with walnuts, raisins and figs.
- Antey and Gressan Apple Festival: in October this is a mouth-watering occasion to enjoy apples in every specialty: from jams to jellies and pies.
- Sagra della Seupa: last weekend in July, in the commune of Valpelline. For more than fifty years the preparation of this seupa has been attracting tourists and bringing together all the townspeople. The festival is a pleasant opportunity to enjoy this soup together with their families to reinforce traditions. Music and folk dances will frame this mountain festival.
- Honey festival: on the last Sunday of October, in the village of Châtillon, you can walk among stalls and stands curled with honey. It is an opportunity for both young and old to taste this mouthwatering food.
- Féhta dou Lar d’Arnad PDO: a festival that has been held for more than 30 years during the last weekend of August.
- Chestnut Festival: in October the star is the chestnut, present in every corner of the Valley. Taste it accompanied by music from local orchestras.
Now that you know all the typical recipes, plan your food and wine trip in the Aosta Valley among festivals, tastings of typical dishes and wine tastings. Book now with Italia Delight! 🚀
Cover photo: antonio-sessa-unsplash
Featured photo: giusy-iaria-unsplash