Piedmont - When to go
I am just starting to look into a trip to Piedmont for 2014. One of my co-workers goes every year and says we must go in late October/early November. We mostly go on our big vacation in late May/early June when most kids are still in school, but the days are long and the weather is usually pretty decent. But I'm willing to go later in the year if late fall is really the time to go. I do love truffles, so I see the appeal, but we are not the type of people that tend to spend $400 on dinner every night, so I'm not sure what the prices of dishes with truffles are and whether we would get enough out of moving our travel days to make it worth going when the days are shorter and its colder and more likely to rain. Don't get me wrong, we're happy to spend money on a great meal, especially on vacation, but I know myself well enough to know that we won't want to do so every night. We also love smaller, family run restaurants rather than the more formal ones, so I'm not sure if that makes a difference in terms of what the costs will be for dinners. Any advice you could give would be great! thanks!
Piemonte is great any time, except the summer when it is really really hot. Late October/early November is wonderful if truffles are what you're looking for. However, as you pointed out, the weather can be bleak. By the way, you do not have to spend $ 400 on dinner every night, even with truffles. There are any number of excellent smaller family run trattorie/ristorante that are moderate in price: see prior posts e.g. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/768883
But should you go in Novermber/December, for a relatively fair supplement, you can get truffles shaved over pasta, risotto, or sunny-side eggs (the best!). You do not have to spend a fortune, unless you want an entire truffle dinner, which we think is foolishness. Piemonte has some of the most interesting food, and is certainly the area we think has the greatest number of great trattorias/restaurants, in all of Italy.
Our favorite time to go is May... the vineyards are in bloom,the warmth of the spring is felt and the tourists are few in number. You can walk in the vineyards (the barolo vineyards beneath La Mora are a great place for walking). Just a great time to be there; no truffles of course, but that is no big deal.
Hope this helps.
Going to Piemonte in the fall during white truffle season is certainly a "bucket list" experience. However, as noted above, you are not required to have truffles with every course of every meal or even any course of any meal. Piemonte is full of moderately priced restaurants and trattorias.
If you go to the upper right-hand corner of this page and do searches for Piemonte, Alba, Asti, etc., you will find a good number of past threads with helpful recommendations.
Whenever you go, be sure to spend at least at day in Torino (Turin). There is plenty to see and do and eat there!
Do you have any specific restaurant recs for Torino? We enjoy casual restaurants with great food. So far my research has turned up Consorzio and Scannabue as options that might fit that bill. Do you agree with those suggestions, or could you recommend any others? Many thanks in advance.
The fall -- late September through early November -- is ideal, because that time frame will allow you to sample Piemonte's extraordinary white truffles and because it is harvest time in the vineyards. That said, given truffle prices, the likelihood is that you will sample the truffles only occasionally and in the fall, you will encounter other tourists in fairly large numbers (which is a rarity outside of truffle season). Another good option would be April through early June, when the seasonal produce is at its best. Even the winter can be very beautiful.
Be sure to search this Board for restaurant suggestions. Those who post regularly concerning food in Piemonte really know their stuff and will lead you to a host of wonderful, small, family-owned restaurants.
Late fall. Wonderful truffles, porcini's and game. Superb cooking. A great experience the two times we've done it.
Allende is correct - go any time (except mid-July to Labor Day). Don't worry about truffles yet; get to know the region and you'll be coming back! The Piemonte threads will provide lots of fabulous dining ideas.
I wouldn't change the date just for the truffles. In may there are a lot of wine festivities (like "Nizza è Barbera" in Nizza Monferrato mid may) and those are very nice too.