The North East of Italy includes the regions of the Trentino-Alto Adige, the Veneto, Friuli–Venezia Giulia and Liguria. All have similar themes to their cuisine but equally a tremendous amount of diversity. Polenta and rice are the staples of their diet and are incorporated into many of the dishes in each region.
In the Veneto for example, game, mushrooms and seafood are all combined with rice and polenta, whereas further north in Trentino polenta is married with river trout and sauerkraut. Whatever accompanies the polenta, it is usually delicious.
Traditional dishes in Trentino, in the foothills of the Alps, have strong culinary links with their neighbours in Germany just north of the border. For example, Canederli is made with bread and flour and served in a broth, and is just one of several types of gnocchi (dumplings) popular in Trentino-Alto Adige.
Speck, which is cured pork belly similar to bacon, also figures largely in the local cooking. You can also find a version of Apple Strudel which goes down well with a glass of iced grappa on the snow-capped ski slopes.
When it comes to wine there are three grapes native to this region, one is the white Nosiola and the other two are the red Teroldego Rotoliano and the Marzemino. In addition to the native grapes, well known international grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, Moscato, Pinot Nero and Pinot Grigio, as well as Müller-Thurgau, are grown throughout the region.
One main distinction between Trentino and Alto Adige production is the fact that in the northern area the wines are produced mostly by small family-owned wineries that sell their product locally, with limited exports to Germany and Austria. Trentino on the other hand counts on a large number of growers who joined into large cooperatives, such as Ca'vit and Mezzacorona, which produce wines that have consistent taste and characteristics year after year.
The Veneto, famous for such fabulous cities as Venice and Verona, have a wealth of traditional dishes such as Risi e Bisi (rice and peas), and Fegato alla Veneziana (calf's liver fried with onions).
Seafood ranging from prawns, shrimp and clams to fresh fish and eels play an important part, as does rabbit, duck, pigeon and guinea fowl.
Radicchio di Treviso is a bitter red chicory served as a salad but more often grilled and served with salt and olive oil.
Asparagi di Bassano are white asparagus that are boiled and served with vinaigrette or eggs.
The area is amongst the foremost wine-producing regions, both for quality and quantity. The region has over 20 DOC zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.
The three most known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Lake Garda, and Valpolicella and Soave. The reds are made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes whilst the whites, like Soave, are produced from Garganega and Trebbiano. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, plus the Breganze and Amarone reds which are rich and powerful made in the province of Verona.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is famous for its vast cornfields, which feed the areas demand for polenta. Prosciutto di San Daniele is a sweet cured ham that is made here also but the food in general has German/Slavic traditions especially around the city of Trieste.
Friuli wines include Refosco dal Peduncolo and Schiopettino but the region is best known for its whites like the very popular Tocai, Malvasia Istriana, and Ribolla gialla.
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