Bagna Cauda and Wine

The C.O.S.I group has chosen winter for this months joint post. Italy is full of great things to do and I am sure the C.O.S.I bloggers will have lots of useful information from visiting wonderful places in Florence to skiing in the Alps. I personally think skiing is far to dangerous for a mere black sheep (Pecora Nera)  So instead I will tell you about food, wine and dinning with good friends, which is much closer to my heart than skiing.

It is difficult to drink wine whilst skiing

It is difficult to drink wine whilst skiing

Mrs Sensible and I were invited to the 50th Bagna Cauda  evening in  Cortandone, by a wonderful couple (Mr & Mrs K) who we had met a few months ago. Mr K and I appear to have a couple of things in common, we both enjoy a laugh, we have Italian wives who are bilingual and neither of us have mastered the Italian language, allegedly Mr K knowledge of Italian  is a bit better than mine.

The festivities took place in a little village in Asti about 48 kilometers (about 30 Miles in real money) from where we live.

Bagna Cauda, according to the nice old guy who was sat at our table, is a traditional Piedmontese winter meal; the ingredients are remarkably simple and are guaranteed to your sinuses; they are garlic and anchovies cooked in olive oil. We took our seats and I was mildly impressed to see there was already a carafe of wine on the table.

While Mr K and I sampled the wine and tried to decided if it was Barbera or a Grignolino (we finally decided it was definitely a red) the waiter arrived and poured some of the mixture into our dishes. Now it is very hard to describe the texture and colour of the Bagna Cauda, it certainly smelt of anchovies and garlic, there was obviously a lot of olive oil mixed in the mixture with bits floating in it and it also looked a little bit like a primeval swamp.

Pro Loc

These guys in the red shirts volunteer to serve during the evening.


On the table there was a couple of platters of raw and cooked vegetables, including potatoes, radish, peppers and celery.  I even found a couple of large and fantastic spring onions to throw into my pot.  As you can see I was correct, it was red wine.


Bagna Caulda

Bagna Caulda complete with a little candle to keep it hot.


The following is not a very good picture, but I think it is important to show you the size of the spring onion I rescued from the vegetable platter and stuck in my pot… much to the dismay of Mrs Sensible.

Just a little spring onion, just in case the garlic and anchovies havent produced enough flavour

Just a little spring onion, just in case the garlic and anchovies haven’t produced enough flavour.


After a second refill of Bagna Cauda, the waiter arrived with some plates of pastina. Pastina is a light soup with very small pieces of pasta floating in it.


Pastina with egg pasta

I very nearly got into trouble at this point because Mrs S asked me if I was enjoying the pastina, I said yes it is OK; but it tastes like soup with scrambled egg floating in it. I was informed by Mrs S that it was egg pasta!!! Which was why to me, it tasted of scrambled egg in soup…. Still it was very nice, a little unusual because I normally prefer my scrambled egg on toast.

After the scrambled egg in soup, a waiter arrived to ask if we wanted the meat dish. I always become a little worried when waiters (or my wife) tell me it is meat rather than pork or beef. The nice old mans wife asked if I like meat. I confidently answered.”Io mangio tutti” Mrs Sensible, said he means “tutto not tutti” Apparently with my limited grasp of the Italian language I had just informed the nice old lady that I eat everybody rather than everything. Oh well.

Then the meat arrived.

The Meat

The Meat

There were two items on the plate that I recognised and a couple of pieces that looked like maybe they had come from dubious origins.  While no one was watching too closely I  slide the strange-looking meat onto Mrs Sensible’s plate and kept what looked like a slice of beef. I know the round thing was cotechino and under normal circumstances I would have eaten it, but what with scrambled eggs in soup I wasn’t going to take any chances. Plus I had eaten salami at the start of the meal, unfortunately I forgot to take a picture.

We had a quick raffle, I failed miserably, I didn’t even win a cuddly toy.


No winners here

No winners here


And then the sweet arrived and the waiter kindly brought another carafe of wine.


Fantastic apple strudel and moose mousse.

I won’t say Roberto was the highlight of the evening; but he came very close to it. He arrived at out table with a bottle of grappa in one hand and a bottle of limoncello in the other.

Roberto, the hero of the night

Roberto, the hero of the night

Which would you like? Roberto asked. “Yes please” I answered. As Mrs Sensible rolled her eyes to heaven he poured me a large measure of grappa and a glass of limoncello. Roberto then turned to my friend and asked if he would like a glass of both. I am not sure his wife approved and I think Mr K tried to say it was my fault, that I was a bad influence.

This morning I awoke to find the bedroom windows had been mysteriously opened by Mrs S in the middle of the night. I think the smell of garlic, anchovies, spring onions, wine, limoncello and grappa had become too much for her sensitive nose.


Verdict on the evening.

Brilliant, The food was great and it is always a pleasure to spend time with good friends.


Georgette (Girl in Florence): What to expect when you visit Florence in winter
Andrea (Sex lies and Nutella): Surviving the Italian winter
Gina (The Florence Diaries): A foreigner’s guide to surviving winter in Italy
Rochelle (Unwilling Expat):Without winter there would be no summer
Misty (Surviving in Italy): Italy in the winter: Baby, it’s cold outside
Maria (Married to Italy)
Rick (Rick’s Rome): How to enjoy winter in Italy



42 thoughts on “Bagna Cauda and Wine

    • Hi Georgette, I thought scrambled eggs in soup was a bit strange, but apparently it is completely normal here. Mind you Italians eat some weird pasta dish made with either the ink of squid or octopus. personally I have stayed clear of it, the only black things I like to eat are liquorice, burnt toast or food that I have cremated by accident


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    • The Italians will eat most things, obviously cooked to perfection. Donkey (Asino) is very popular around here, I guess that is why you don’t see too many on the beaches giving children rides. Horses also get eaten, in fact don’t tell anyone, but I like horse meat it is very sweet and full of iron. The first time I tried horse, Mrs Sensible kept telling me it was cavallo so I kept eating it. When I asked her what cavallo was I nearly choked on the horse meat.

      Liked by 2 people

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  4. I made bagna cauda once as an effort to cook Italian. Never again. The meat here is strange, either dull or suspicious, that cottechino stuff is just horrible. Why haven’t they discovered gravy or a simple piece of fillet steak done rare !!! I love the ravioli when done delicately but otherwise ……. I am longing for a real curry that I don’t have to cook myself.


    • I think cottechino is an acquired taste, some days I will eat it and on others I will pass.

      Have you tried stinco? I refused to eat it for many years, mainly based on the name 🙂 Mrs Sensible says I am like a child and eat with my eyes 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: How to Enjoy Winter in Italy

    • Mr K is a hoot, the women where discussing something in Italian and we had started our own little wine tasting session. The cotechino didn’t look to bad, but there was some very strange white and grisly meat on the plate, I think it is the meat we English throw away, hence I passed it all to Mrs S

      Liked by 1 person

  6. i have to say i would have made the exact same call. hide the meat of unknown origin on someone else’s plate and fill up on the safe foods, wine, sweets, alcohol, and veggies. a survival of the fittest technique to be sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Without winter there wouldn’t be a summer | Unwilling Expat

    • I wasn’t too sure about the meat…. hence Mrs S received double portions. I think Mr K and I had consumed half of the first carafe of wine before the bagna cauda arrived 🙂

      Just not enough to tempt me to eat the strange meat..


  8. I haven’t tried bagna cauda but it sounds really good. I love brodo straciatella- with a beaten egg and lots of parmigiano. Yum! I was in a restaurant in Greve a few years ago and they had asino on the menu. The menu was bilingual and I couldn’t stop laughing at the translation-‘piece of ass’! Ciao, Cristina


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