The journey of discovery of the Let Eat Bi partners who every Wednesday sell their goods at the market in Cittadellarte continues. After pointing the spotlight on the Frutteto di Bersej in one of our previous articles, we move to Oro di Berta. It is an organic farm immersed in the evocative context of Oasi Zegna, where – besides selling their products – they provide a restaurant and bed & breakfast service. The activity, based in Castagnea di Portula in Biella in via dell’Oro 172/173, is run by Tristano Tammiso and his wife Paola Passuello.
We met Tristano at Let Eat Bi’s market, where the farmer told us the story of his company: “We started it in 1998, and since 2003 we have been producing transformed products like jams, vegetables in oil, walnut oil and apple vinegar. In 2006 we also launched the agritouristic side of it. At present, we have a 90 seat restaurant and we can offer accommodation in our four en-suite rooms. We organize dinners with typical local dishes and we are an educational farm credited by Regione Piemonte”. We occupy the historic spaces of what in the 18th century used to be a factory. The owner took care of renovating it keeping its original charm intact, maintaining for example the wooden slabs and the cotto tiled floors.”
Tristano then highlighted the peculiarities of his activity: “We have three greenhouses and an open-air plot. We farm seasonal fruit and vegetables only, respecting the timing of their natural growing process. We have been a certified organic producer for 18 years, and we don’t use any chemicals”. A few of their specialties derive from ancient varieties of local pear and apple trees, and a two-hectare plot is reserved for chestnut trees. Natural, local and seasonal products: in line with Let Eat Bi’s policy.
The farm works with transformed products a lot: “With our apples we produce a special mostarda following a traditional Biellese recipe. The process is very long, it takes in fact 18 hours to prepare, but the result is excellent. From apples we also make vinegar acidifying the cider. It has characteristics beneficial to our organism: it is a natural disinfectant and a good remedy against sore throat and cough. We also produce our own jams, which can be served with cheeses, stews and boiled meat. Much appreciated is, for example, our dandelion jelly, perfect with mature cheeses and rich of depurative agents.”
Inspired by the ancient Biellese farming tradition, Tristano and Paola resumed the production of walnut oil. A product of excellence which is their strong suit: “Only a few companies produce this specialty, also because it is quite laborious to produce. You have to crack the walnuts one by one, clean them by hand and grind them in a special press. This way you extract the oil: you need six kilos of walnuts to make a litre of oil. It can accompany cooked or raw vegetables, the bagna cauda, soft cheeses and to dress some types of fish like king prawns. With the leftovers from the pressing we make the “nusuggio”, 80% dehydrated walnuts also used as a dressing for sweet and savoury dishes. Walnut oil is good for the organism too, it is rich of omega-3 and keeps all the nutrients of the dry fruit”.
How can you taste and buy their products? “Our restaurant is open on Saturday and Sunday evenings by booking only. On Sundays we also serve merende sinoire (typical Piedmontese frugal pre-dinner meals) offering cheese and cured meat boards with our jams, and, occasionally, a pasta and a dessert. People staying overnight can have breakfast and dinner also throughout the week. As far as the products are concerned, you can buy them in a few places around Biella, including – obviously – Let Eat Bi’s market and our factory outlet”. If you want to embark on a journey through the flavours of the territory, Tristano and Paola and their seasonal, natural and organic specialties are waiting for you.
Tristano Tammiso with his niece at Let Eat Bi’s market.