The meal was at Cafe Du Bourg, in the small town of Arvier located in the Valle d’Aosta in northern Italy. This town has two restaurants, and is known for their local red wine, Enfer d’Arvier. This particular region of Italy churns out magnificent dairy products, and this is because the fresh water that rolls down from Mont Blanc feeds the grass, which in turn feeds the happy cows.
As for the meal, it included fresh cheese, two homemade pasta dishes, and a steak I still drool over. When the waiter asked us how we liked the food, Alejandro responded, “The chef is truly an artist!” To that, the waiter replied, “La chef? Es la mia mama!” From there, to say they treated us as family would be an understatement – it was the Italian experience you only dream about.
This dish is my adaptation of my favorite part of the night, spaghetti with wild mushrooms, tomato and fontina cheese. I bought homemade porcini spaghetti from the farmers’ market, and found fontina from Aosta at my local Italian shop. If you spot this cheese at your market, pick it up! It is earthy, creamy and nothing like fontina from elsewhere.
Ingredients for Spaghetti d’Arvier
1 lb fresh porcini spaghetti
4 types of wild mushrooms, chopped – I used black trumpet, hedgehog, yellowfoot and organic button
4 ripe tomatoes, seeded, cored and chopped
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup fontina d’aosta, finely grated
Handful of parsely, finely chopped
About 3 tbsp high-quality fresh butter
Extra-Virgin olive oil
Set a big pot of salted water to boil
Heat up a large saute pan, add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil.
Saute button mushrooms on high heat for 5 min. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
Add one more tbsp. butter, and the rest of the mushrooms. Saute for 5 min.
Add the chopped tomatoes and the last of the butter. After 2 min, throw the button mushrooms back in the pan, and turn the heat to low.
Add the parsley, salt and ground pepper – stir. Turn off the heat.
Put the spaghetti in the boiling water for no more than 4 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and the fontina cheese and sitr together.
When pasta is done, add it to the saute pan with the mushrooms and tomatoes. Add the reserved water and the yolk/cheese mixture – stir quickly. Sauce should now be nice and thick.
- Farm fresh, organic butter is key for this dish.
- Be sure to stir quickly after you add the yolks so the eggs don’t cook and set.
- I cook the button mushrooms first because their texture is different from the others. If your mushrooms vary in size and texture, I suggest you don’t skip that step.
- Fontina cheese is strong. I may use less next time.