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Frazione Saint Maurice, 57
11010 Sarre (AO)
Tel. +39 0165 257448
BY IAN D'AGATA | AUGUST 28, 2019
Saint-Oyen cured ham with homemade Russian salad (Cuit di Saint-Oyen alla brace con insalata russa della casa)
Tseur achétaye prosciutto of Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses with raspberry vinaigrette and grana padano flakes (Tseur Achétaye di Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses con vinaigrette di lamponi e scaglie di grana)
Country greens salad with sweet goat cheese, pear, walnuts, strawberries and chestnut honey (Insalatina di campagna con caprino dolce, pere, noci, fragole e miele di castagno)
Polenta with Bleu d’Aoste blue cheese (Polenta con Bleu d’Aoste)
Ricotta and spinach tortelli with Bleu d’Aoste blue cheese and Genepy (Tortelli di ricotta e spinaci al Bleu d’Aoste e Genepy)
Salmon trout filet with mountain herbs and lime (Filetto di torta salmonata alle erbe di montagna e al lime)
Dessert trolley (Carrello dei dolci)
|NV CoEnFer Cooperaive de l'Enfer Spumante di Qualità Mayolet Triskell||91|
|2018 Château Feuillet Moscato Bianco Valle d’Aosta||87|
|2016 CoEnFer Cooperaive de l'Enfer Enfer d’Arvier||90|
|2015 Cave de Donnas Donnas Vallée d’Aoste||91|
Welcome to Trattoria di Campagna
Trattoria di Campagna will most likely not go down in the history books because of an especially elegant setting or three-star service. In fact, it’s rather rustic in its look and feel, and the friendly, easygoing service is more like that of a family home than that of a chic dining destination. No matter, the place offers an excellent, fairly priced wine list (especially from within the region) and superb food served in a quiet environment (there is also a pretty outside dining area when weather allows). But what really sets Trattoria di Campagna apart from many other similar country dining establishments is the quality of the ingredients.
Saint-Oyen cured ham with homemade Russian salad
Perhaps my favorite cooked ham in the world, the cuit de Saint-Oyen is a hard-to-find pork cold cut (cooked first in the oven and then finished off on a charcoal grill) made only with Italian pigs and aromatized with a delicate mix of Valle d’Aosta mountain herbs. As far as cooked hams go, its depth and precision of flavor are thoroughly rare. Not that far behind it in my personal pantheon of truly sublime pork cured meats is the jambon de Bosses, another of the Valle d’Aosta’s many contributions to a sybarite’s nirvana. Although hardly known abroad (a real shame), Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses is a delightful mountain hamlet that is home to one of Italy’s best prosciuttos, DOP since 1996 but already mentioned in documents dating back to 1397. It is cured with Valle d’Aosta mountain herbs and marine salt and aged for 12 months on a bed of hay. However, that is not the little town’s only claim to cold-cut fame. In fact, the tseur achétaye, a gastronomic delight even less well known than the jambon de Bosses, is a cured, hand-salted bovine meat (it is also occasionally made with sheep or goat meat; tseur achétaye means simply “salted meat”) flavored with mountain herbs kept in brine. Thinly sliced, it is easily confused with bresaola (even if only because authentic, high-quality bresaola is hard to come by and tasting a really good one is easier said than done), but the two are worlds apart in taste and texture.
Tseur achétaye prosciutto of Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses with raspberry vinaigrette and grana padano flakes
Last but not least, Trattoria di Campagna has an especially good Bleu d’Aoste, which can be one of the most flavorful, well-balanced blue cheeses in the world, offering a creamier texture than other famous blue cheeses, such as France’s delicious Bleu de Causses or Bleu de Gex, and importantly, a much less obvious saline quality than others, such as the Fourme d’Ambert. (Did I ever mention that I am actually a trained, certified cheese taster in Italy? Well, now you know.) The polenta and Bleu d’Aoste dish I had during this lunch, a perfectly cooked and heavenly mix of corn meal and blue cheese, offered a depth and complexity of flavor that I have tasted few other times in similar dishes, and so this is one I won’t soon forget; in fact, it will undoubtedly make my list of top 10 best dishes of the year. The ricotta and spinach tortelli I tried on this day were almost as good.
Polenta with Bleu d’Aoste blue cheese
If food lovers are sure to leave Trattoria di Campagna happy at meal’s end, it is safe to say that wine lovers will too. The wine list boasts numerous Valle d’Aosta wines from different producers and vintages, and it offers a chance to try many of them all at once, as prices are gentle. On this day, I kicked things off with a real beauty, the NV CoEnFer Spumante di Qualità Mayolet Triskell, a simply marvelous sparkling rosé made from the rare Mayolet variety. Bright and precise, not to mention very flavorful, its aromas and flavors of wild strawberries and orange peel provide an outstanding start to the meal but are robust and complex enough to stand up to much sturdier dishes. And I am happy to report that the wine was even better on this occasion than when I last reviewed it on Vinous in May 2018. Not especially well-known, CoEnFer is the shortened name of the Cooperative de l’Enfer, a co-op located in the small town of Arvier that makes mostly lovely wines from organically grown grapes. By contrast, I was slightly disappointed by the 2018 Château Feuillet Moscato Bianco Valle d’Aosta, which I found to be a little subdued and less perfumed than I expected from a cool year such as 2018. One of my favorite producers from the region, Château Feuillet excels especially with the Petite Arvine, and their Moscato Bianco is usually not that far behind in the enjoyment it offers. Not so this time.
Ricotta and spinach tortelli with Bleu d’Aoste blue cheese and Genepy
I then went back to another wine from the Enfer cooperative: their 2016 CoEnFer Enfer d’Arvier, which proved to be a lovely red wine not unlike a cheerful, good-quality young Beaujolais. I followed up that 85% Petit Rouge and 15% local varieties blend with something more substantial. The 2015 Cave de Donnas Donnas Vallée d’Aoste is one of my favorite Nebbiolo-based wines (it’s a blend of 90% Nebbiolo, 5% Freisa and 5% Neyret) made outside of Piedmont. The wine’s aromas and flavors were initially slightly less bright and vibrant than usual, but it opened up quickly once I poured the open bottle into a carafe to let it gain more contact with air. Still, I have had better bottles of this specific vintage on other occasions.
Upon leaving the restaurant, I was surprised to see just how much spring I had in my step – a good sign considering the very rich tortelli and polenta dishes I had indulged in. It made for an effortless and satisfying remainder of the afternoon spent visiting the Valle d’Aosta’s many outstanding Lilliputian wine estates.