A typical holiday meal starts off with an antipasto or starter. In the cold season this might
be a focaccia - a kind of bread or pizza dough enriched with cheese or thinly sliced cold cuts
like prosciutto or speck. Depending on what's available you might find soppressa (like salami
but bigger so that the time required to cure in a cellar allows for a slightly different and
delicate taste), radicchio, gorgonzola cheese with walnuts or Asiago cheese and mushrooms.
The simple addition of an egg to the pasta changes the taste and texture significantly and
requires skilled hands to kneed. Here in the north it is common to have "bigoli" which is just
this, a "big" spaghetti made out of pasta and egg. Gnocchi on the other hand is made from
boiled potatoes (Rotzo potatoes are especially good, coming from the mountains around Asiago).
Gnocchi can be eaten with a traditional ragu sauce (in October you'll find a ragu made from
duck), or any number of variations depending on where you are and what the season is. La "fioreta"
is a ricotta typical of Recoaro, a resort area in the mountains also famous for its bottled
water. In spring you'll find many wild herbs such as "ortica" (stinging nettle) or bruscandoli
- a wild herb which grows locally and can be mixed into the pasta and sauce.
The classic winter time meat dish is spezzatino (stew), usually beef or veal but can also be
made with chicken or fowl. It is often stewed along with vegetables or tomato paste, mushrooms
or the well known radicchio from Treviso. This meat dish is served with polenta, either the
soft type or the roasted which acts as a substitute for bread and complements the meat sauce
To round things out we add some vegetables to the dish, either raw or cooked on the grill to
keep the flavor - radicchio from Treviso, Chioggia or
Castelfranco, broccoli fiolaro from
nearby Creazzo (a rare and highly valued variety) and potatoes of course!
We finish our meal with a dessert which was invented after the war by a restaurant in Treviso
- Tiramisu. Savoiardi biscuits soaked in coffee and mixed with a mascarpone cream cheese form
the basis for this tasty treat.