Autumn in Italy brings a bounty of seasonal delicacies and a delightful reprieve from summer crowds. While there’s no doubt that Carnevale and the sizzling Italian summer months are loved by so many, autumn provides a tranquil, picturesque recluse, certainly in terms of the culinary enthusiasts among us.
As the leaves start changing colour and the air turns crisp, Italians celebrate the fall harvest with food festivals, comfort cooking, and many other beloved traditions. The autumn months are when we begin to see some truly delightful, nutritious, quintessential Italian foods begin taking shape, influenced largely by the autumn harvest bounty.
At Valentina Deli & Kitchen, we eagerly await autumn when Italy’s pantry truly comes into its own. From white truffles to chestnuts, discover the Italian food staples, flavours and dishes that make autumn a magical time to visit Italy and experience la dolce vita.
White Truffles - Tartufo Bianco
Of all Italy’s autumn ingredients, few are more coveted than the white truffle. These rare tubers grow near the roots of oak, hazelnut and chestnut trees all over the country, with celebratory festivals taking place in regions like Piedmont, Tuscany and Umbria.
Available fresh from October through December, with November being the prime season, Valentina Deli & Kitchen have plenty of these fresh white truffles available to order from both our Weybridge and East Sheen delicatessens. These truffles have an unforgettable earthy aroma and flavour and go so well with our many staple Italian cheeses, pasta and other specialities. Their musky essence elevates the humblest of ingredients.
At Valentina Deli & Kitchen, we bring in fresh white truffles weekly during peak season for customers to pre-order and enjoy the same day. For those who can’t get enough of that intoxicating truffle perfume, we also offer truffle-infused oils, butter, cheese and cured antipasti meats to enjoy year-round. Better still, visit our Italian restaurants in Weybridge or East Sheen to have them served to you for an unforgettable al fresco dining experience.
Meaty, earthy porcini mushrooms embody the musky flavours and scents of autumn. In September and October, indulge in these wild mushrooms to eat fresh in omelettes, pasta and risotto. Or dry them to intensify their woodsy notes, adding depth to wintry braises and soups. We stock premium dried porcini to make your cooking rich and aromatic all season long.
Pumpkins and Squash
As temperatures begin to cool, you can expect to see autumn markets overflowing with brilliant orange pumpkins and winter squash for the looming Halloween celebration.
For an eye-catching centrepiece, carve pumpkins for your home’s Halloween décor before roasting the seeds for a crunchy Italian snack. Save the flesh for recipes like tortelli di zucca (a tender pasta stuffed with pumpkin) or zuppa di zucca (classic pumpkin soup). Delicata, acorn and butternut squash also come into season, ready to be stuffed, pureed or roasted.
The sweet, nutty chestnut is quintessentially autumnal in Italy. Foraged from groves across the country, chestnuts are cooked into savoury dishes and desserts aplenty. Castagnaccio is a popular Tuscan cake made from chestnut flour, olive oil, raisins and pine nuts. Why not also roast chestnuts on an open fire for a classic winter night treat?
As Italians visit family graves to pay respects on All Souls’ Day (2nd November), they traditionally serve biscotti toto - double-baked cookies flavoured with chocolate and cinnamon.
Without being too morbid, these biscuits represent the bones of the deceased, and the custom reminds us to honour those who came before. Serve biscotti toto with vin santo or coffee after your Italian feast this autumn to give yourself an authentic Italian dessert experience.
The first tender baby artichokes appear in autumn, smaller and more delicate than their summer counterparts. Steam or grill them with lemon and olive oil, or enjoy marinated artichokes from the deli in antipasti spreads all season long. As a hearty cool weather crop, artichokes also stand up beautifully to pasta sauces and risotto.
Italy’s vibrant green vegetables thrive in the autumn chill, adding texture and nutrients to classic dishes. Cavolo nero, or Tuscan kale, brings earthy depth to minestrone soup and ribollita, complemented nicely by punchy, aromatic anchovies and lemon.
Spicy Cime di rapa, or broccoli rabe, pairs perfectly with orecchiette, olive oil and garlic. Bitter radicchio and endive add pops of colour to salads and cheese boards. Load up on Italy’s hearty greens to see you through the winter.
Each autumn, olive groves burst with a fresh harvest. The first extra virgin olive oils of the season have a distinctive peppery bite and cloudy texture. After the long summer, locals relish the arrival of fresh oil to pour generously over crusty sourdough bread, silky pasta and roast vegetables. Pair with a delicious, vibrant balsamic vinegar for the perfect appetiser or side dish.
At Valentina Deli & Kitchen, we could not exist without Italy’s green gold. Our shelves brim with small-batch, single-estate oils to experience all the nuances these artisanal products offer.
Cured Meats and Sausage
As days grow shorter and colder, Italy’s charcuterie comes into its own. Slices of salty prosciutto, peppery salami and bold soppressata make antipasti platters sing.
Hearty bean and cavolo soups are improved significantly when paired with a coarse chunk of pancetta or guanciale. Stop by Valentina Deli this autumn to discover our full range of expertly cured meat and sausages to complement your autumnal dishes.
Halloween – Strega Liquore
While Halloween itself isn’t an Italian tradition, Italians are not opposed to taking part in the spooky festivities.
In fact, a distinctive herbal liqueur called Strega, meaning “witch”, was developed in Benevento, Campania - a town known for its witchcraft lore since mediaeval times.
Made from ingredients including mint, fennel and saffron, the rather niche Italian Strega has a vibrant yellow hue and intriguing bittersweet flavour. Sip it neat, on the rocks or in cocktails like an exquisite espresso martini. However you choose to celebrate, you won’t find a more befitting Italian Halloween drink.
Italian Wines Perfect for Autumn
- Ferrari Trentodoc Brut - Elegant, fruit-forward sparkling wine from Trentino
- Acquesi Rosato - Floral, fruity pink from Nebbiolo grapes in Piedmont
- Otello Ceci Lambrusco - Rich, structured sparkling red for charcuterie
- Prosecco Col Fondo - Unfiltered, cloudy natural sparkling wine
- Moscato d'Asti - Lightly bubbly, fruity, sweet white for desserts
- Grottarossa Chardonnay - Fuller-bodied oak-aged white from Sicily
- Villa Sparina Gavi - Bright, citrusy white from Piemonte's Cortese grape
- Mannara Syrah - Smooth, fruit-driven red Syrah from Sicily
- I Perazzi Cabernet Sauvignon - Ripe, berry-rich Tuscan Cabernet
- Dolcetto D'Alba - Fresh, easy-drinking Piedmont red perfect with pasta
Book an Autumn Visit to Valentina Deli & Kitchen - Your Local Authentic Italian Restaurant and Deli
As summer crowds fade, autumn reveals a more intimate side of Italy. At Valentina Deli & Kitchen, our mission is to share the authentic tastes of Italy. This autumn, come experience the abundant gifts of the Italian autumn harvest in our two local Italian restaurants serving you delicious staple meals and autumn specialities aplenty. You won’t find a better Italian experience anywhere else, so book a table today!