When I was a child I remember long and exciting afternoons in the woods on the Apennine mountains to search for "Marroni" (the brown ones), a typical chestnut. The finest and most delicious are the ones from Castel Del Rio a little village on the mounts nearby Bologna.
They are much bigger, sweet and perfumed than the common chestnuts. There are two ways to taste them: "brusé" (burnt) that is to say roasted directly on the fire or "ballotte" meaning boiled in water. In this season it is very common all over the country to find kiosks on the streets which sell roasted chestnuts. The smell in really attractive and it is very hard to resist the temptation!
With marroni we make various typical cakes and "Capaltez" which are ravioli filled with chestnuts, spices, preserved fruits and unsweetened cocoa powder. They are dressed with olive oil, pepper and parmesan cheese. The combination sweet and salt is strong but really tasty!
With the flour obtained from dried chestnuts, we prepare the delicious "Castagnaccio", pancakes, sweet polenta, and even the pasta sheet for tagliatelle!
Locals also preserve chestnuts in Rum and make a special liquor called Maroncello to warm up during the long winter evenings and maybe offer during a match at briscola or bestia, which are traditional cards games.
Not to be missed are also Tortelli di zucca, a kind of ravioli filled with pumpkin, preserved fruits, amaretti (almond biscuits), aged parmesan cheese, and nut meg. They are usually dressed with a cream of butter, parmesan and sage or tomato sauce or even Bolognese sauce.
Another season product are mushrooms. I've just learnt that there are over 300 different varieties of mushrooms between the Apennine and the Dolomites. Italy is the second consumer of mushrooms Europe after France. It is very common for us on a weekend to look for mushrooms. Nevertheless, it is important to go with an expert because not all varieties are edible and can be dangerous. On our mountains, you can find marvelous Porcini mushrooms which we eat with polenta, tagliatelle and meet in general. A typical autums dish is also risotto with sausage and mushrooms.
Last but not least, the gold of our Apennines: the truffle! In Bologna region grow 4 varieties of truffle, but the most precious one is the white truffle of Savigno. My favorite dish is Tagliatelle al Tartufo Bianco di Savigno!
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