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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chestnuts!



Chestnuts! Every autumn Northern Italy has a problem with the overwhelming overabundance of chestnuts. The solution is to hold chestnut festivals in every town and to roast, cook, bake, and enjoy chestnuts in every imaginable way. I met these men, members of the local fire department, doing chestnut duty along the Stresa lakefront one Sunday morning roasting chestnuts in pans over simple fires. A bushel of chestnuts, some red wine, and a lot of smoke later, and I was walking along the water with a paper bag full of hot roasted chestnuts. Restaurants in the area will be serving chestnuts in a variety of ways throughout the season. I've spotted chestnut crepes called necci, chestnut soup, and chestnut gnocchi with toma cheese, just to name a few. The sweetest way of all to prepare these castagne is certainly the marrone glace, in which chestnuts are preserved with sugared liquor into a soft, candied consistency. A box of these can cost more than a box of fine chocolates. A much more economical way to try these is to look for them in bars and pastry shops and buy just a couple of them to enjoy with your cappuccino.

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STRESA SIGHTS by DANA KAPLAN

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