The queen of autumn: trips out of town in search of chestnuts and the tastiest recipes

From Lombardy to Bolzano, many appointments are scheduled for October. And for the sweet tooth here is the recipe signed by chef Christian Senoner

A (floury) fruit with great qualities and queen of autumn , to be picked and eaten, the chestnut is the protagonist of the October outings . In the chestnut groves of the plains, but not only, chestnuts grow at hilly altitudes up to a maximum of 1200 meters and there are routes suitable for everyone, from the most to the less trained, from expert gatherers to families on a Sunday trip. And after filling baskets and bags, the chestnut lends itself to countless variations of the table. We find it in both sweet and savory recipes, its flour can be used for traditional baked goods and the fruit is also delicious to savor alone, roasted or boiled.
Here are some suggestions.

Paths and Lombard chestnut groves

In the province of Varese there are many places to collect chestnuts: the woods near Azzate , around Lake Varese, the Vegonno plain is characterized by immense chestnut groves where you can collect wonderful chestnuts, the Brinzio wood, from where a short path starts. challenging that leads to the top of Monte Martica. In the province of Como there are the woods of Val d’Intelvi, in San Fedele d’Intelvi and Casasco Intelvi , between Lake Como and Switzerland. Between the provinces of Varese and Como there is the Pineta Park, a forest of over 4,800 hectares that touches the territories of 15 municipalities and is crossed by 60 kilometers of paths.There are not only chestnut woods but many other varieties of trees and above all many animals: hares, foxes, dormice as well as many birds. In the Alta Brianza area, the favorite places for chestnut lovers are the Montevecchia Park and the Curone Valley. Do not miss the village of Montevecchia and in particular the viewpoint of the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine del Carmelo. In the province of Bergamothe best known area for collecting chestnuts is that of Almenno San Bartolomeo, in the woods of the hamlet of Albenza. In the municipality of Pradalunga there is the Pratolina hut, surrounded by chestnut woods and often the scene of events dedicated to chestnuts. The nature reserve of the Giongo Valley, in the Municipality of Sedrina in the lower Brembana Valley, is known precisely for its crops, in particular in the Prati Parini area, as well as the Colle Alto and the Poscante side, an area renowned for its biligòcc, chestnuts smoked and sold by the vine.

The Chestnut of Migiondo

In the Municipality of Sondalo, in Valtellina, chestnuts can be found in the woods of the districts of Migiondo and Sontiolo. The recommended route is the path N279 which plunges into the chestnut groves for over 2 kilometers, the journey time is about an hour. In Migiondo, once a year the chestnut is organized, a day of itineraries with tastings, music and entertainment for children. This year the appointment is scheduled for Sunday 24 October: from 1 pm there will be a route in stages that leads both to the chestnut paths and to the historical and artistic beauties of the village. In addition, the mountain guides of Bormio will lead children and teenagers in the climbing of the Falesia di Migiondo. 

Renon, where the chestnut has a path all to itself

On the Renon Plateau , in the province of Bolzano, the autumn season offers the spectacle of foilage and a particularly suggestive path where you can only collect chestnuts: it is the “Keschtnweg”, or “Path of the chestnut”, a fascinating path that passes through broad-leaved woods colorful and centuries-old chestnut trees leads from Novacella-Bressanone to the Renon plateau and down to the illustrated manor of Castel Roncolo, just north of Bolzano. A unique spectacle of nature with a band of chestnut trees covering the slopes of the Isarco Valley. But you will not be alone: ​​along the chestnut path several farmers offer regional products for direct sale. And for those who want to treat themselves to a guided hike with Sepp Lamprecht along a section of the path, meet on Friday 15 October for a nice walk of about 4 hours with a lunch stop. Reservation within 5 pm of the day before at the Renon Tourist Association.

Chestnuts and wine in the osteria of Castel Roncolo in Bolzano

An original experience to taste chestnuts in a magical place is that of Törggelen in Bolzano . Törggelen is celebrated in October until the beginning of Advent and is a culinary event that offers chestnuts paired with new wine in one of the many “Buschenschänke” (farm taverns) scattered throughout the area. We recommend trying the one of Castel Roncolo, a manor that is located in a majestic position a stone’s throw from the city. Here, in addition to chestnuts and wine, it is possible to taste traditional South Tyrolean dishes, from barley soup to Schlutzkrapfen, from sausages to smoked meat with dumplings and sauerkraut. But don’t eat too much because after lunch a visit to the Castle is a must to discover the wonderful cycle of frescoeswhich depict scenes of medieval life of court society, from hunting to knightly tournaments to scenes of daily life or inspired by literary works such as the story of Tristan and Isolde or King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Castel Roncolo can be reached by car to the parking lot below and from there in about 5-10 minutes on foot, or by shuttle bus (9 seats) that leaves from Piazza Walther or on foot along the Lungotalvera promenades (about 40 minutes by car). walk from the center).

In the kitchen with the chef

A tasty autumn recipe by Christian Senoner, chef of the Silena di Valles gourmet restaurant.

Chestnut flour tagliatelle with pheasant ragout
Ingredients for 4/6 people
For the tagliatelle
150 g chestnut
75 g 00 flour 75 g durum wheat semolina
3 medium whole eggs
a spoon extra virgin olive oil
On a pastry board, mix the flours and make the classic fountain, add the eggs and oil in the center. With a fork, start mixing the eggs with the surrounding flours until the ingredients are combined. Begin to knead with both hands obtaining a soft and elastic dough, put it to rest in a bag or in a kitchen towel for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. After resting, start rolling out the dough with a rolling pin or if you prefer with the machine, let the dough dry on floured sheets and when it is dry cut into strips to make noodles.

For the ragù
1 pheasant cut into pieces
150/200 gr chestnuts
1 l beer
oil, herbs and various spices
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees for 15/20 minutes. Arrange the pheasant in pieces in a baking dish with oil, various herbs, some spices and the blanched and cleaned chestnuts. Cover with aluminum foil and cook the pheasant at 200 ° for half an hour. Then add the raisins and beer. Continue cooking for another 40 minutes, then remove the foil, turn the meat and sprinkle with its sauce. Finish cooking. Shred the meat well cooked and, once the noodles are ready, add everything. Decorate the dish with some raisins and 2/3 chestnuts.

For everyone also the recipe of Chestnut Liqueur:
Ingredients: 500 g of chestnuts, 500 ml of pure alcohol at 90 degrees, 600 ml of water, 600 g of sugar, 1 sachet of vanillin. Procedure: Carefully wash all the chestnuts, boil them and peel them. Cut the chestnuts into small pieces and put them in alcohol, in a glass bottle. Close the bottle tightly and let the alcohol rest for 30 or 40 days by shaking it every evening. After this period, boil the water with the sugar and vanillin. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Filter the alcohol well, add it to the water, mix and bottle the mixture by putting it in a cool place. Leave to rest for another 15 days.

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