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Home    Gastronomy and Traditions   Local products

Il violino di capra

Flavoursome fiddling

Leafing through the on-line content dedicated to Slow Food, sooner or later you’re bound to come across the legendary violino di capra della Valchiavenna. Here we have a very particular cured meat product on the bone, taken from goat thigh or shoulder and adopting the unmistakable form of a violin, in that the heel serves as a manual grip allowing the muscle mass to be worked on. Note this traditional method of slicing it, resting it using a napkin under the chin with one hand, exposing the most flavoursome flesh towards
the outer whilst cutting with a knife with the other, an action that genuinely resembles that of a fiddler using his bow.
Il Violino is a local delicacy widespread throughout the valley. Chiavenna itself is widely recognised as a historic transit town for travellers and commerce toing and froing via the passes of Spluga, Maloja and Settimo connecting Italy to Germany, Austria and Switzerland and it was this typical movement over the centuries which made this quintessentially local speciality ever more famous on a European scale. A goat delicacy which undertakes a very particular maturation and refinement, ideally in the unique crotti in Valchiavenna, il violino 
was returned to the spotlight by the Slow Food Presidium in the year 2000. And 2016 has seen Chiavenna’s gastronomic pride and joy being adopted within a new specification, getting a thumbs-up from all the principal local producers, eager to maintain and guarantee the quality of both selected raw materials and the production processes involved.
The production technique is particularly well-structured: it involves an initial cleaning of the animal pieces which after a subsequent and appropriate drying out, are then salted and seasoned by hand, before being put aside for between 8 and 15 days during which time they are subject to regular massage to ensure adequate penetration of the spices and to tenderise the muscle fibres.
We are now almost reaching the period of maturation but not before more cleaning, attention to the nerves and veins along with a further massage of the meat which will also undergo a delicate smoking, enclosed for a day or so within a room or fireplace in order to absorb the smoke emanating from embers which have been treated with scented essence of pine, fir or larch. The process is completed with the slow, gentle refinement over a period of at least three months in a cool cellar with a low humidity.
Preferably in one of the valley’s many crotti. It’s ideal to be appreciated in the winter months, to be enjoyed during convivial evenings in good company in front of an open fireplace, and with a few decent bottles of red wine to hand.
You’ll find useful contact addresses of producers and vendors adjacent.

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