Foodie trek around Alba
I'll be staying a few days in the Alba area. I know the area is packed with wineries, etc. The trip is in August, so I know some places might be hit-or-miss due to holidays. That said, do you have any personal favorites for cheese, wine, etc. places to check out in that area? We'll have a car.
There is SO much good fine and wine in Alba & the Langhe region that you can point your car in almost any direction and do very well. The regional tourist board publishes excellent tourist brochures & guides to the region that are available in English. Be sure to visit the local tourist office when you get there.
I have not been to that part of Italy in 6 years. There is an excellent enoteca devoted to the wines of the region in the castle above the village of Grinzane Cavour. The villlage of Cherasco is quite charming and a little unusual for the area. La Rosa Rossa is a very good trattoria in Cherasco. Boccadivino, a restaurant in the village of Bra, is very good and is affiliated with the Slow Food group, whose offices are next door.
Do searches for Alba, Asti, Piedmont, Piemonte, etc. on this board, as there have a number of prior posts. Also think about getting a copy of the Slow Food Guide to the Osterias of Italy, which is now printed in English.
I got the slow food guide that you mentioned last week -- it's excellent. It highlights restaurants and hotels, but not as many shops, wineries, cheesemakers, etc. (Or maybe I just haven't gotten that far in the book yet.) Do you have any of those recommendations or do the tourist guides for the Langhe region cover that type of stuff?
I've just returned from that area in March and have made been there on previous trips. The Slow Food guide only lists a very few (if any) of the many restaurants in a particular area. These places meet the particular standards and philosophy of the Slow Food movement. It appears price (value?) is involved as the more expensive restaurants mentioned on Chowhounds are never in the book. I had a great time just trying to find the selections I made from this guide and was rewarded with outstanding food. There are many, many more choices available in every town or village that are not listed. For instance, two outstanding restaurants in Barbaresco are Antica Torre and Amine, of which, neither are in the Slow Food guide. One can just relax and explore, read posted menus or follow your nose to find great food. I reported on my last trip here:
For information on the area:
Ente Turismo Alba Bra Langhe e Roero
tel. +39 0173 35833
Website: hit the english button for plenty of info on wine, cheese, foods, etc.
The girls in the Piemonte tourist offices speak english and have actually called the places they knew were open to make lodging reservations for us. Perhaps they can mail you some of their outstanding guides on various subjects.
Near Barbaresco is Coazzolo, and that is the location of a delightful family-run restaurant, da Linet. You sit down and they serve whatever they have fixed. It has a large outdoor terrace which is wonderful in the summertime. You'll want to have a reservation.
A fancier place is Il Centro in Priocca d'Alba. Our most recent visit to each was last June, and both were as good as ever.
South of Bra is Cervere, and da Renzo serves snails and frogs (separately).
Maureen Fant wrote an excellent article in the NY Times (on 12/22/02) about eating in the Langhe/Piemonte region. You can still find it online at nytimes.com. Go to the Travel page and do a search for Alba or Cuneo.
Try Bra for the cheese festival which is held once a year. I think it's called Cheese Park. Otherwise if you go to Giolitto in Bra you will find all the cheese from Piedmont and they can take you round their ageing cellars for some locally produced cheese. As for the wine you are spoilt for choice in that area, but I can recommend the castle at Grinzano Cavour and a visit to the enoteca/wine cellar or a visit to Armangia in Asti Spumante coutnry in Asti.
If you want to take a drive, not far from Alba and a bit outside of Asti, there is the very fine restaurant at the lovely Locanda del Sant’Uffizio, on the Monferrato hills.
It's touted as award winning and we found it to be excellent. There is also a fabulous winery in the hills across the way. Stop there and they will send you to the treetop Cathedral......"There have been many miracles there....." After visiting, I'm not surprised.
Awesome location for everything fine...food, wine art, scenery and romance!