Biancamela - History, symbolism, art, music and science of 7 wonders of our territory - is the invitation-only gala evening held at the Monastery of the Star and offered by the Cassa di Risparmio di Saluzzo Foundation to present the new logo of the Monviso fruit district. After an initial institutional presentation, an evening that exceeded expectations, especially for its cultural part, opened, because to imagine turning a fruit dinner into a cultural moment is an original and by no means obvious format. Realised in collaboration with Agrion Foundation and the participation of ONA Frut Tuesday evening, 27 March, was an enthralling journey through legends, fairy tales and history to pamper the highly evocative cuisine of Daniele Palazzo of Ristorante Monviso created to valorise local fruit.

Saluzzo and the fruit of Monviso

Lucetta, with her marvellous voice and innate elegance that served as a thread throughout the evening, introduced the Daniele Dalamazzo, Mayor of Lagnasco and President of the Monviso Fruit District and Mario Anselmo, President of the Cassa di Risparmio di Saluzzo, who gave the evening an institutional flavour.

The district in numbers

The Monviso Fruit District unites 44 municipalities in the provinces of Cuneo and Turin with seven thousand employees working in over 16 thousand hectares of orchards. Two-thirds of Piedmont's fruit is grown in the Monviso District area, i.e. the87% applesThe 97% of nectarines, the 76% of kiwis, the 74% of pears, the 72% of plums and the 42% of peaches.

Monviso Fruit District

A new logo for monviso fruit

The new logo was designed by Andrea Piacenza and features an apple cut into the silhouette of Mount Monviso, the highest mountain in the Cottian Alps, which forms the backdrop to the city of Saluzzo. Personally, I find it very pretty, except for the font chosen for the word 'fruit' which I find a little dated.

Monviso fruit logo

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Dinner in Saluzzo with fruit from Monviso

Dinner is intended as a journey: each dish is preceded by a story with its protagonist within a myth, a legend or a fascinating tale. Bite after bite, we entered the stories and the fruit was dressed in its finest garment: culture. The films and stories were beautiful and really immersed the diners in an innovative format that deserves to become a fixture in local restaurants.

A tasteful mise en place despite some fake flowers that - thanks to the soft lighting - were not too noticeable. Apples of all shapes and colours, even gold, lined the long tables. The empty goblet? A provocation that I admit did not excite me: I would have preferred to dine on the cider presented throughout the dinner or even a simple sangria in a carafe made from fruit from Monviso. Besides, isn't wine itself fruit reinterpreted by man? 😄

Fishing

The evening begins with the colour yellow as an emblem of immortality. A clip from the film 'The Last Emperor' to introduce this fruit of Chinese origin that came to Europe during the flourishing eastern trade with ancient Greece. In particular, it seems that Alexander the Great, the famous Macedonian leader who imported the apple of Persia, was particularly fond of it. For the Chinese cuisine and its culture, the peach tree is such a symbol of immortality that even today brides wear peach blossoms at their weddings as a symbol and hope of eternal love.

The Monviso peach is paired with the salmon and matches it in sweetness while adding a touch of acidity.

Saluzzo monviso fruit

Kiwi & chestnut

The evening continued with the colours green and brown combined with a very emotional film clip: Piano lessons. A mute, widowed woman with a daughter has to marry a stranger for convenience and moves to a remote island in New Zealand.

A local legend tells of dangerous insect swarm attacks that devastated the forest until its god asked the kiwi - a small local bird - to give up its wings to protect it. To thank him for his sacrifice, she grew a fruit in his honour: the kiwi. Today this bird is such a national symbol that New Zealanders are used to calling themselves kiwi.

As far as the chestnut is concerned, however, we go back to the time of Hippocrates, the first to speak of its nutritional power, which earned it the appellation acorn of Zeus. A legend tells of Nea, Diana's nymph who, because she refused to lie with Jupiter, was transformed into a tree that took the name castanea (chaste, virgin + Nea, the nymph's name).

Here, the classic combination of raw ham and melon is reinterpreted in a territorial key with prosciutto crudo di Cuneo laid on two thin slices of kiwi fruit with a (very good) chestnut focaccia on the side.

Saluzzo monviso fruit

Reinette apple & plum

The legend of William Tell is a hymn to Austrian freedom and, although there is no certain proof of its existence, it contributed to the struggles against tyrants and invaders. Wilhelm Tell, for refusing to bow before the bailiff Gessler's hat, was forced to shoot an arrow at his son Gualtiero in order to hit an apple on the top of his head. Since he was an archer of rare skill, he succeeded in the feat, but was nevertheless condemned to be imprisoned and - on the way to Lake Lucerne - managed to escape thanks to a terrible storm and then freed the people from the oppressor with a second arrow.

Two are William Tell's arrows and two are the names of the second fruit: prune and plum. However you call it, it remains a delicious fruit.

An evocative representation of the William Tell legend? The symbolic apple, or meatball, is pierced by a stick resembling an arrow and placed on the plum rubra sauce. A very successful dish: the meatball is cooked to perfection and is very tasty.

Saluzzo monviso fruit

Granny Smith apple

The green colour continues with this apple that is said to be the same one that inspired the Apple Inc. logo. A clip from Martin Scorsese's film New York New York (1977) introduces a reading dedicated to the genius of Steve Jobs. The apple as forbidden fruit to the point of being an object of desire yesterday and a symbol of everyday life today.

An American Style proposal: a mini burger with cheddar cheese and a few thinly sliced apples to add freshness to complement the salad. Personally, I would have removed the salad altogether, added a couple more slices of apple and a very thin slice of bacon... but it was already very tasty.

Saluzzo monviso fruit

Fuji apple

The green colour blends with the red streaks of the Fuji apple, the protagonist of this story introduced by the film King Arthur - The Power of the Sword (2017). Lovers of the Arthurian cycle (like me) are familiar with Avalon, or Apple Island (from the Breton word Aval), the legendary resting place of King Arthur. Lucetta recounts a piece of the medieval legend that inspired this scope.

Delicious combination of polenta and mashed potatoes, apples and onions. Since polenta is a medieval dish, the chef said he wanted to remind us of a crown... the idea is beautiful, but I admit that the crown was not easy to interpret.

Saluzzo monviso fruit

Apple cider

Cider house rules is a film by Lasse Hallström from 1999 and a clip of it introduces the drink being served. After a reference to Flaubert's famous novel Madame Bovary, they talk about Sidreria Craveri & Lamberti, founded in 2019 with the aim of promoting apples from the Cuneo area, a symbol of Monviso's fruit.

Finally, the empty goblet is filled with a very pleasant classic method apple cider!

Arvira apple cider

Apricot & Golden Apple

Lucetta recounts the birth of Newton's law, which was inspired by the fall of an apple.

Too cute the idea of representing fallen ice cream. A classic with fior di latte, apple puree and apricot sauce perfect as a pre-dessert.

Saluzzo monviso fruit

Pear

The pear is a fruit steeped in history, a symbol of luxury and privilege since the time of the Sun King, who is said to have asked his gardener to select and cultivate more than 500 varieties with different harvest times distributed throughout the year in order to always have fresh ones available. This is why a clip from Roland Joffé's film Vatel (2000) was chosen to celebrate this fruit, which features a Sun King's banquet. The film is the true story of François Vatel, a Swiss cook and pastry chef serving in the Château de Chantilly and who committed suicide because he was unable to fulfil his duty due to a delay in the supply of fish to the grand banquet for the Prince of Condé's reconciliation with Louis XIV.

From the kitchen, a pleasant mascarpone and pear mousse with a red wine reduction. My suggestion for a next edition? It would be wonderful to propose a pear cooked in red wine as was the prescription at the time and accompany it with Chantilly cream, which was created for that very banquet.

Saluzzo monviso fruit

Inored Story Apple and Blueberries

After Snow White's poisoned apple, Italo Calvino's The Red Apple tells the story of a king, a queen, a beautiful daughter trapped in an apple and a tormented love, but with a happy ending.

A delicious and scenic apple bavarois dipped in white chocolate with blueberry soil. A reference to the Snow White fairy tale, but with a different ending: the apple is poison-free and very sweet. Perhaps the most successful dish of the evening in terms of both presentation and taste.

Saluzzo monviso fruit

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What to see in Saluzzo

Before dinner, I took a walk around this beautiful town to which I hope to return soon. Saluzzo is a medieval town of about 17,500 inhabitants located in the north of the province of Cuneo in Piedmont. The capital of an independent marquisate for four centuries (from 1142 to 1548), here it seems that the Middle Ages prevailed over the Renaissance and that art followed a parallel path to the official art of the neighbouring areas and Italy in general.

Saluzzo Cathedral

Of rare beauty, the Duomo is a discovery: outside it looks like nothing special, except for its imposing size, but when you enter, it is magic. This cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, has been the bishop's seat since 1511. The interior is a splendid example of late Gothic architecture, and in this regard it should be remembered that Saluzzo is very close to the French border. Late Gothic is a fundamental language of 15th-century art history on a par with Renaissance, and indeed can be defined as its direct 'competitor'. Indeed, if the Renaissance represented XXX, Late Gothic preferred to imagine a fantasy world dominated by an aristocracy living in constructed perfection. After all, we are at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries and the medieval order - which had struggled so hard to collapse here - is now fruitNo wonder, then, that a courtly representation seeks a more intimate contact with God.

Saluzzo Cathedral

While the architecture is undoubtedly Gothic, the decoration straddles the line between flamboyant Gothic and Baroque. After all, they both share a love for luxury, for the use of gold, for the exasperation of decoration that becomes, at times, grotesque. The Saluzzo cathedral is a wonderful example of the fusion of these two styles that deserves to be visited by all art-loving sommeliers.

Church of St. John

In the beautiful setting of the old town, with a truly romantic charming hotel, stands the Church of St John and its cloister.

Cloister church of San Giovanni Saluzzo
Biancamela circus show

A crazy complex, with frescoes and chapels rich in history.

Biancamela: when fruit becomes an expression of culture

The gala evening of the Monviso fruit district was truly special: the impeccable organisation by director Michele Scanavino (who also accompanied me around Saluzzo and whom I hope to see again soon because I have found a kindred soul), the wonderful voice of Lucetta, the cooking of Daniele Palazzo of the Monviso Restaurantthe music, the circus show, the atmosphere between the sacred and the profane... a final greeting from Angelo Branduardi with his song 'cogli la prima mela' takes us away, to accompany us to a night full of dreams between reality and myth.

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