Friday, August 28, 2009

La Thuile (home of the best little cheese shop in Valle d'Aosta)

Goat cheese assortment
Delectable orbs of goat cheese coated in a tempting assortment of spicy and nut flavorings.

I must've looked like a crazed, dangerous woman entering into La Maison du Fromage. With nostrils instinctively twitching, flaring, and breathing - no, inhaling - the bold pungency that exuded from within, it took every ounce of willpower to stick to "the plan". The plan? That's right, a plan to buy only what we could reasonably finish and not burn a hole in MotH's wallet. I had been waiting for months to finally make it to this place...such is our lust for cheese. Run by a mother, daughter and granddaughter team, they entice the cheese gourmet with the best the region has to offer - local prosciutto, sausages, breads... A plethora of pasta and local products beckon seductively from racks and shelves, ensuring that you simply can not leave without making a few purchases to bring home. The dumbstruck gaze on my face with Canon in hand said enough. "Signora, plain or with nuts?" the young woman asks me. She was offering a free bar of chocolate as MotH had engaged in lively conversion with the owner. It pays to be an amateur foodie journalist?

La Thuile Maison du Fromage Arnad le Vieux salami
Tegole Pan Ner Capriolo formaggio
1. La Thuile (center town) 2. Inside La Maison du Fromage 3. Arnad le Vieux salami
4. Tegole 5. Pan ner (black bread) on a rastrelliere 6. Capriolo - a soft cheese made w/cow & goat milk

...and then there's chocolate

A short walk up the street from La Maison du Fromage, a chocolate shop appropriately named Chocolat beckons like the lure of a siren call. We answered the call alright, but they were closed for the afternoon siesta. See you next time...

Chocolat
Chocolate olives
“Olives from Provence” - toasted Provence almonds coated in layer of dark chocolate then coated again in white chocolate that has been colored green and black.

...and places to stop in for a bite

Bathieu
Having a cute kitchen in the apartment rental meant buying local produce and eating in. An exception was lunch while we were in La Thuile, for which I am so glad that we stopped in at Brasserie du Bathieu. Lardo (cured fatback) is a specialty in this region, and I had the most exquisite sandwich made with only pane nero (black bread), lardo, and honey. That's it! I honestly wasn't expecting anything amazing, but since the goal is to eat what's typical in any given area, lardo/honey sandwich it was. The "Bathieu" - yes it had a name - wasn't going to win photo awards, but it was so surprisingly good that, naturally, we bought some pane nero and lardo to make this again at home. Ecco! Voila! Mid-morning snack to save the day.

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24 Comments:

Blogger K and S said...

all those cheeses! that sandwich looks delicious! too bad that chocolate place was closed :(

2:32 PM, August 28, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Kat - I shrugged my shoulders and took it as a sign that we just had to go back there in the future. Can't wait til February 2010!!!!

2:53 PM, August 28, 2009  
Blogger Tamakikat said...

Just starting to plan my next European holiday. 'Teased' with photos like these on your blog a return visit to Italy looks like a definite:)

TK

2:58 PM, August 28, 2009  
Blogger Ciao Chow Linda said...

I missed those places while in Val D'Aosta - so I think I need to go back too.

3:22 PM, August 28, 2009  
Anonymous janie said...

That is my kind of shop-great photos-thanks!

3:50 PM, August 28, 2009  
Blogger 2kamuela47 said...

Love these kinds of pics! Glad you had a great time!

5:10 PM, August 28, 2009  
Blogger petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Oh Rowena, I could not have bribed by way to becoming a partner, and probably would have bought one of everything such is my love for cheese. Since my cholesterol is slightly elevated, I've had to eliminate much cheese (my downfall), unless you can suggest where I can find low-fat brie which I can eat by the wheel! This post could possibly cause this recovering cheese lover fall off the wagon! ;)

Have a wonderful weekend, Rowena!

5:10 PM, August 28, 2009  
Blogger Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Lovely post Rowena...I agree with you, like a another crazy lady..:-)

You just don't know which way to turn!!

I do normally try most things, but eating Lardo... not sure!!

7:52 PM, August 28, 2009  
Blogger Fern Driscoll said...

Cheese, chocolate... cheese, chocolate - thank goodness no one has ever said you can have only one but not the other, now choose. That capriola has me drooling - I love a soft runny cheese, and that one looks like it's headed out the door. Lardo: I was dubious until the first time I ate it (also with honey) - divine. All I can say is, Thank God for Lipitor! As always, your discoveries are inspiring, and your photos perfection.

8:01 PM, August 28, 2009  
Blogger Frizzy said...

Oh Lardo! I recall it well. We devoured our samples thinking it was cheese. We walked around to the other side of the table to find out what type of cheese it was. Oh the horror of finding out we had eaten Lard not cheese. Truth be told it was really good. The reality of what it was gave us quite the shock. As for all the other delicacies you've talked about...I think I've died and gone to heaven.

8:49 PM, August 28, 2009  
Anonymous Peter Farina said...

Stop! Now you have two blogs that are making me anxious to get back 'home' to Italy :-D

Great stuff...

12:43 AM, August 29, 2009  
Blogger AmyEmilia said...

My first taste of lardo was in Colonnata. And, it was awesome!

The photos are amazing.

6:23 AM, August 29, 2009  
Blogger Barbara said...

I'm just catching up with your posts. Savoring them slowly.We really want to return there in the future.We love this mountainous region.
It looks like you found your heaven, Ro.
As usual, everything looks so ono.

:)

8:18 AM, August 29, 2009  
Anonymous casalba said...

OMG! Those goat cheeses! I wish we could get those here.

9:45 AM, August 29, 2009  
Blogger Sophie said...

Wonderful pictures with equally wonderful looking food,....

11:51 AM, August 29, 2009  
Blogger Brad Farless said...

I really don't understand how you keep from putting on weight. I don't know if I could stop myself from over-eating with so many delectable choices at hand. I really love cheese. ^_^

I'd normally not try something that's made primarily with fatback, but since you said it's good, I would go for that sandwich.

10:48 PM, August 29, 2009  
Blogger RONW said...

"show me a fat hawaiian." Also, request permission to use your photo of those "olives."

12:07 AM, August 30, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Tamakikat - if you plan to be in the Como/Lecco area, do let me know!

CC Linda - yes, and hit those powdery slopes for me because I'm no skier. The region is just so gorgeous any time of year.

Janie, Laura - mahalos...it was a pain choosing which pic to share here...I shot almost 300 images in 4 days :-o!

Petra - I know it sounds like we must eat a ton of cheese everyday, but in truth it is far less. And the trick to lowering cholesterol, or so I've heard, is to have red wine with a cheese course. Seems to work for me ^-^

Anne - one of these days someone will catch me on film when I'm staking out a place. Typically I study the outside displays if there are any, then I look in the window display before going in. You won't believe how many times I've asked "What's that cheese/dessert/product in the window?" :-DDDDDDDDDDD

12:23 PM, August 30, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Fern - I remember my first dubious experience with lardo - a complete surprise at how delicious it was. Hide that stuff from me or else I'll have a heart attack.

Frizzy - I couldn't have said it better myself regarding lardo, but I must warn you...ehhh...errrr...something is coming up on these pages and you may be put off by the sheer idea of it!!

Peter - I'm just sorry that your "roots" are located quite a distance from where I'm at. I would so love to explore the southern regions of Italy more often.

AmyEmilia - thank you, and you bet that the lardo from Colonnata is excellent stuff (supposedly better than the one from Arnad).

Casalba, Sophie - thank you ladies, there will be more to come!!

12:44 PM, August 30, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Brad - metabolism. Mine is still at hummingbird level what with the dogs and gardening. Sitting at the pc just kills me!

12:46 PM, August 30, 2009  
Blogger Brad Farless said...

Rowena, I envy you then. I mean, my metabolism is finally starting to pick up again, but for a while I was putting on weight and it worried me. I must have lost about 6 to 7 lbs in the last two months though. I started walking a lot more.

12:56 PM, August 30, 2009  
Blogger Zhu said...

Cheese, chocolate, olives... welcome to paradise!

I love goat cheese (as well as a bunch of smelly French cheeses) but I can't really find them in Canada. Taste different and they are so expensive...

Nice pictures!

4:21 AM, August 31, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Zhu - the only thing missing...darn it...was a boulangerie. Figuring that the area was already bi-lingual/cultural, it was my hope to come across a true french bakery and/or pastry shop.

Not THAT would be paradise...

8:40 AM, September 01, 2009  
Anonymous manju said...

What an incredible place -- cheeses look like chocolates and chocolates look live olives! Lardo and honey...another must-try combo!

9:33 AM, October 25, 2009  

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