All these saint days in Italy can get really confusing. But I am especially fond of San Martino because it is related to … of course… vino!

San Martino

The 11th of November was generally the day that all the old sharecroppers and farmers would hopefully get their contracts renewed or when the farmers and proprietors would meet in the piazza to negotiate new contracts. This date was chosen for agricultural business affairs because it was generally after the sowing of the seeds had been done.

unusually warm day in Serralunga d’Alba

Summer of San Martino

Legend has it that the three days surrounding San Martino are traditionally warmer after the first cold wintery feeling days. Actually in my experience here in Piemonte this seems to be true! This would be like our version of an Indian Summer.

Celebrating San Martino

Yesterday, I guess in some ways I did celebrate San Martino by eating a full-fledged meal based on the world famous leeks from Cervere nearby. Every year our friends can’t wait to wait in line like old folks punctually at 7 pm (very early for Italians) to get a place for all you can eat leeks. Last night we had carne crudo with leeks, leek souffle, leek gratin, tripe and leek soup, leek filled ravioli, risotto with leeks and sausage, merluzzo with leeks, to name just a few items! Let’s not forget the polka dancing afterwards with live orchestra! This is not the traditional way to celebrate San Martino of course. Traditionally, the farmers would taste the wine they had made for the first time after fermentation and drink it together with roasted chestnuts.

some of our dishes at the leek festival


San Martino grape clusters

After all the harvesting is done all across the board, you can still find tiny little grape clusters hanging on the higher parts of the vines. These are still very sweet and are often made into a local jam called Cugnà. Cugnà is made from the grape must and depending on your recipe, some spices and hazelnuts. I love this stuff! Especially because it is always paired with all of our great Piemontese cheeses.

San Martino grape clusters on vines in November

Is it an Indian Summer where you are? Stay tuned for the next post: a cugnà recipe!

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