1950s Archive

A Gastronomic Tour of Italy


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Some of the best hotel accommodations in the valley are in the resort town of St. Vincent, at the precise point where the road curves southward. This is well known as a spa, and its waters are recommended for stomach disorders. Perhaps a true gourmet should avoid such a place, but we urge you to tarry and to try one of its hotels, among which we have a strong favorite. This is the HOTEL DU PARC, and we recommend it with enthusiasm, It is a large, comfortable, modern chalet on the edge of the town. Its interior décor is French provincial in style. As for the cuisine, it really is something to write home about. We try not to indulge overmuch in superlatives, but the Hôtel du Pare deserves them richly. Our first luncheon here began with horsd'oeuvre worthy of a fine Paris restaurant. The mountain trout and tonrnedos which followed were impeccable, as was the ne bottle of red Frecciarossa which completed the orchestration. An epicure's choice would certainly fall upon this trim, well-run hostelry whose host, Signof Ccrutti, is a multilingual symbol of hospitality.


This brief travelogue winds up with a fine flourish, for Courmayeur is unquestionably one the most exciting towns in Europe. it is set in a verdant saucer filled with wild flowers and surrounded by the most overwhelming Alpine peaks. But groping words won't do much good. You have to see Courmayeur to appreciate its impact. This is an Italian Chamonix, if you wish. But, being on the sunny side of Mont Blanc, it is much warmer. Winter sportsmen have naturally adopted Courmayeur as their own. There are trim little cable cars to hoist them to fabulous snowy playgrounds, and above the two-mile mark there are comforte “refuges” where they can linger for days, if they wish. Skilled mountaineers here guide Alpinists' enthusiastic steps upward and back again. Spring and autumn are dull in Courmayeur, but the town takes on full animation in late June for the summer months. Its hotels bustle with anticipation. Most of them are handsome, modern, oversized chalets, positively teeming with comfort. The ROVAL BERTOLINI is the patrician of the lot, but the ANGE & GRAND HOTEL, the EXCELSIOR, and the MONT BLANC all are good. Or perhaps you want something “ different.” You'll find it, without any question, in the GRANDE ALBERGO RI- FUGIO TORINO, aeak retreat 3, 375 meters up on an Alpine slope. No wild flowers here, but a breath-taking panorama of the Alps, with every comfort and an “American Bar” thrown in. Just hop in the funivia— only fifteen minutes by steep cable!

Back in the reminiscent quiet of your own kitchen, you might like to try a few Piedmont recipes. These two are tried and tested and very good.

Polenta and Cheese Fritters Piemontese

Boil together 1 pint each of milk and chicken or veal stock. Pour in gradually ½ pound line yellow corn meal and Cook, stirring, until the mixture is smooth and comes away from the edges uf the pan. Spread the polenta ½ inch thick on it pastry board to cool. Cut it into 1 ½-inch discs and sandwich the discs in pairs with slices of Fontina cheese between them. (Lacking Fontina, as you proby will, use Bel Paese or Gruyère.) Press the discs together gently, dip the sandwiches in beaten egg and in bread crumbs and fry them in deep hot oil until brown. Drain them on paper and serve hot.

Guinea Fowl Piemontese

Stuff a guinea fowl with 2 or 3 slices of crued stale bread mixed with 2 teaspoons finely chopped ham, the chopped liver of the bird, 8 juniper berries, pepper, salt and a pinch each of sage and orégano, and moistened with a little stock and I tespoon melted butter or chicken fat.

Heat 1 tespoon each of butter and oil in a casserole on top of the stove and in it brown the fowl lightly on all sides. Remove the bird and place in the bottom of the casserole I sliced carrot and 1 or 2 small onions. Replace the guinea fowl, season it with salt and pepper, tie a strip of bacon across the breast and on each leg, and cook the bird in the oven, uncovered, until it is tender, adding ¼ cup stock and ¼ cup white wine for basting. (Add more liquid to the baking dish as you cook the guinea fowl if necessary. The liquid may be strained and used as a sauce.) Cooking takes about 1 hour in a slow (300† F.) oven. Raise the temperature to 450† F. for the last 10 minutes to brown the bird.

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