Mangiamo! Piedmont style…

IMG_2553

She’s… -sniff- … beautiful.

Who’s hungry?

Pull up a chair at the table and let’s eat. Comme fanno in Piemonte! Granted I haven’t been able to take advantage of all the truffles and mushrooms that are so prevalent later in the year. But I’ve had the opportunity to taste some of the regional cuisine here and let me tell ya’, it’s been as Borat would say, very nice.

So, as my amico Vince used to ask me every day around 1:00, “che cosa mangiare?” Before we dig in, though, a word or two about the most important meal of the day.

IMG_2541

Fresh goat cheese from Asti’s surroundings hills

I’ve never been one to eat a big breakfast – a big cup or two of coffee, maybe a banana is about the extent of my morning meal. Terrible, huh? I’ve tried to correct this. “Have some yogurt or a bit of cereal,” I try to persuade myself. Sometimes it works, but usually its just coffee sans food. But thanks to my travels, breakfast has found its way back to the center of my heart. And my stomach.

A monstrous thank you to Géraldine at Villa Ferrari B&B in Asti for, among other things, fueling me with an incredible breakfast every morning before I headed out into wine country and proceeded to get lost. Most guest houses, B&B’s, agriturismos, etc. offer some sort of breakfast with your stay, and usually it’s a modest amount of fruit, assorted sweet rolls, maybe some cereal, and beverages. This irritates a lot of travelers.

Not me.

…Where’s the coffee??

But here in Asti, I’ve learned the fine art of the “assorted breakfast”.

IMG_2538

A typical morning at Villa Ferrari

Every morning, it was a selection of local cheese, ham, homemade crepes, three different types of jam for my toast– made from locally made bread, as well as fresh melon or a citrus-kiwi creation like the one in the image above. It was… embarrassing. All this beautiful food? For Me? I did my very best to eat what I could and made sure to ask for a second cup of coffee.

I remember hearing Tom Kelly from Small Vineyards Importers once mention how eating in Italy was the epitome of provincial cuisine– that is, you’re going to be eating the local stuff, whether you like it or not.

I like it. A lot.

One of my favorite dishes was the vitello tonnato, an amazingly savory dish that sounds so lame in English: chilled veal in tuna sauce. It’s incredibly tasty and fantastic with a young Barolo. (Kris, are you ready to spit at me?) And for me it’s all about the tuna sauce. Interestingly, a guy I met here from France assured me this dish was much better when pork loin was used rather than veal. Hmmm…

Click here for a recipe from epicurean.com, a great foodie site. This dish is perfect for the warm weather.

Another local treat is the tajarin (see image at top of page), a pasta that’s rich with egg yolk yet very delicate. Often served with the local truffles, tajarin (pronounced tie-ya-REEN) is a the type of pasta that you can use the side of your fork to cut through, it’s so tender. I’ve had this pasta three times now, and my favorite version was at the Buon Padre restaurant in the town of Vergne, just outside of Barolo, where the pasta is hand-made and hand-cut. It was lovingly  tossed with a lighIMG_2393t tomato and herb sauce, and almost melted in my mouth. Grazie Claudio, Gian Luca, e Maria Rosso!

In the town of Barolo, I wandered into Rossobarolo, a small osteria that heartily welcomed me — hungry, over-heated, and lips wine-stained from the day’s earlier adventures. I told them in my best Italianglish I would like to taste “cucina tipica di Barolo.”

Be careful what you wish for…

After a full-on feast that included Barolo braised veal, two different Barolos — one young, and one riserva — and Barolo Chinato afterwards, I said “thank you, I love you, where is the highway”, and staggered out onto the streets of this magical village.

My favorite part of this meal, aside from the wine, was dessert. I can’t really remember what it was called. Something to the extent of “Ripe peaches soaked in Amaretto and stuffed with chocolate and hazelnut”. Somehow, after all the previous food and wine, I managed to scarf this down like a rabid American dog. I even managed, much to the amusement of my servers, to drip chocolate sauce on my white shirt. “Attento, attento!”, they playfully chided me. Not to have any of this dolce delight go to waste, I dabbed at my stains with fingers and licked them clean.

IMG_2390

There’s always something to be said for the perceived quality of a given food or beverage “when in Rome”. And so, I try with all my might to be objective about the food and wine I try while traveling and not get too caught up in the scenery. But damn, it’s hard to do that here. I’m pretty sure, though, the cuisine here would be just as impressive even if I were looking out at factory smoke stacks rather than sun-soaked vineyards.

I came here for one reason: the wine. And while that hasn’t disappointed, the food alone would bring me back, again, and again. And it should bring you.

Here’s to good eating and even better digesting…

Salute!

Jared

Advertisements

~ by Jared on June 24, 2009.

8 Responses to “Mangiamo! Piedmont style…”

  1. If I were you I’d just stay in Italy and never come back! I think I can speak for a lot of us when I say I am so enjoying this thru you.

    • Thanks Susan.

      I took the photo of that chevre just for you- it was goooood.

      Hope the little pecker-err- chickens are good.

      Cheers!
      J

  2. My mouth is salivating after reading about all that fantastic food Jared! Yummm!! Eat some for me! Cheers!

    • Hey Seneca,

      I will definitely eat some extra for you- although the pants are getting tighter! Oh well…

      Hope you’re well,
      J

  3. I appreciate the depth to which you are savoring your trip. Literally and figuratively.

    • What-up gman…

      If by “savoring” you mean spilling food on one’s self, over-eating and drinking, and wandering around in food/wine comas afterwards, then yes, I am savoring it all.

      …wouldn’t have it any other way, though.

      Cheers!
      Jared

  4. rossobarolo-barolo
    grazie di tutto
    la foto del dolce è : Pesche ripiene
    grazie e arrivederci
    ciao patrizia

  5. Ciao Patrizia…

    Prego! E grazie per il pranzo delizioso. Fantastico…

    Al il meglio a voi e Emanuele

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: