The cuisine here is simple, rural but also very imaginative, occasionally fused with Venetian traditions or with cooking from beyond the Alps. You can discover the authentic flavours and real products of Friulian cuisine at its restaurants and trattorias: first courses include barley and bean soup, potato or pumpkin gnocchi, and risotto with spring herbs or mushrooms; while for main course (which often comes with polenta) there is venison and game, rabbit stew, snails, musetto e brovada (grated turnips pickled in marc), and frico (a sort of cheese-based rosti with many variations); finally for dessert you can enjoy strudel, apple pie and pinsa (with dried figs, raisins and fennel seeds) which is traditionally eaten during Epiphany or fogassa (focaccia) for Easter.
The perfect accompaniment to the local cuisine are the Grave del Friuli DOC wines, featuring some delicious rare native varieties, including Ucelùt, Forgjarin, Cividìn, Sciaglìn, Cjanorie, Piculìt Neri and Cordenossa, which were found on the hillsides around Castelnuovo and Pinzano and brought back to life.
Pitina is the most typical product of the region. It is a sort of large meatball that is only made from hoofed animal meat, then refined with aromatic herbs, salt, and pepper before being rolled in corn flour, smoked and finally left to age. It is then sliced and eaten raw (but it must be at least 40 days old) with polenta or homemade bread. It can also be quickly seared in butter and served on some soft polenta and sprinkled with a little bit of grated ricotta. It is the main ingredient in many recipes. It may only be produced in Valcellina, Val Colvera and Val Tramontina and is a Slow Food Presidium, just like the Cavasso Nuovo red onion.
Asìno cheese is also a traditional product, whose highly distinctive savoury and slightly spicy flavour comes from the brine – the “salmuerie” carefully preserved in wooden vats, some decades old – in which it is left to age. Between August and September, the Figo Moro ripens in Caneva. These ancient plants can be found all over the region. It has been popular in the Republic of Venice since ancient times, where it was sold fresh at the Rialto market or taken dried on board ships as a highly nutritious food. Another regional delicacy comes to the fore around autumn time: truffles, which have made the area around Meduno famous.
These truffles are sold with delicious cheeses (fresh smoked ricotta, caciotta, formadi dal cit or Montasio PDO) and cured meats by businesses that are part of the “via dei saperi e sapori” at the zero mile markets which have been set up in villages around the region.