|Chestnuts are in season
It is the chestnut season now in Bergamo and the city and surrounding countryside will have a plentiful supply to be used in a variety of delicious recipes over the next few weeks.
While I was visiting Bergamo last week there was one day of rain and wind which blew a lot of chestnuts down from the trees. The sun returned the next day and dried up all the rain leaving the chestnuts to be picked up by keen connoisseurs of the fruit.
The chestnuts growing wild in the countryside round Bergamo will be harvested in November and many will be roasted on bonfires before being used to make tasty soups, tarts and cakes.
According to the October issue of il Paniere magazine, chestnuts are rich in vitamin B and C and minerals. You will see two varieties, a small sweet one known as la garavina and larger ones, which are referred to as i marroni di selva.
You can eat them raw, cooked, roasted, in cream, in cakes, as marrons glacé (with icing sugar), in foccacia and in chocolate.
If you want to be able to keep them for a while, leave them in water for three days before drying them in the sun.
While I was enjoying an authentic, Neapolitan meal in Trattoria Caprese in Via Daniele Piccinini in the Cittá Bassa last week, the waiter came round and placed a handful of roasted chestnuts on each table, a complimentary side dish reminding us that outside it was actually autumn in Lombardy.
Here is a quick and easy recipe you can make in your own home:
Roast your chestnuts on a baking tray in a hot oven.
Quickly peel them while they are still hot.
Toss them in a dry frying pan over a high heat without using any butter or oil.
Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle the chestnuts with Grappa and sugar.
Mix and then flambé them. The heated spirit will light with a match.
Eat the chestnuts as soon as the flames disappear.
For a kilo of hot, roasted chestnuts you will need about 70 mls of Grappa and three tablespoons of caster sugar.