While my memories are still fresh I will try to recite my another food-intensive journey through the Northern Italy. The illustration can be seen (in no particular order) in my recently started instagram food-related account: @fooddao
My meals selections were made on the basis of the past personal experience, extensive reading of CH threads and review of Slow Food/ Gambero Rosso food guides.
Depending on the day, there were 4 to 6 people in our party, which has allowed me to sample a lot of plates.
Given the recent thread expressing an opinion about somewhat uptight and segregative experience with the meals and wine in Piedmont, I would like to repeat my past statement that it is my favorite part of Italy when it comes to the food and wine. Although I am not a wine connoisseur, I enjoy a glass of a good Barolo (especially from Vignarionda in Serralunga d’Alba). I have found exceptional understanding of my taste and interests (without any condescension or snobbism) in all of the restaurants we have visited. Almost ubiquitous good attitude, kindness and generosity of the restauranteurs and the winemakers of Piedmont did not pass unnoticed by me or my friends. I wholeheartedly endorse the recommendations of the Italy-experienced CH’ers to visit this fantastic land. It is not surprising to me that so many people (including myself) continue to return there again and again.
We had two meals in Torino. Sotto Molle: The restaurant was conveniently located within a short walk from our hotel. Being tired after transcontinental flight along with Slow Food acknowledgment of their cheese selection sealed the deal. Although not a fantastic place, it is a solid Piedmont food. Standard food fare - tajarin, plin, carne cruda etc.
The cheese plate was indeed very good. We had a surprisingly affordable Pira Barolo 2011 (I really like this wine maker).
Verdict: not bad, but I am sure there are some better places in Torino.
Consorzio: The darling of all the food guides. The service is a bit stiff, especially given the pretense of the informality in this place. The food is a bit unusual. It gives a modern spin on the traditional regional dishes. Unfortunately I am a bit biased towards the classics. Very awkward bone marrow with bacalao, OK plin and tajarin, some other not memorable dishes. Everyone loved 3 ways anchovies plate. Do not remember what we drunk.
Verdict: the place is not bad, but not to my particular liking. Other people in my party enjoyed it more than me.
On the way to Langhe we finally got to visit Da Bardon. GPS gave us a lot of trouble with finding this place. Our entrance act coincided with the entrance of the bus of the tourists, which made things a bit impersonal and the staff to be very distressed. They handled things pretty well though. 2011 Aldo Conterno Barolo from Bussia helped with the stress relief. Large portions of the primies. Once again standard Piedmont fare, but in more classical rendition. Nothing stood out, but experience was favorable.
Verdict: worth the drive. I think I need to visit it again to understand things better.
Osteria Veglio, Annunziata: It was my first time in this restaurant. I have found the service to be distant. I think they were overwhelmed with the number of the customers on that Saturday night. The lady who took the order have expressed her disappointment that we have not ordered the same courses, because it will make work of the kitchen difficult (?!?!?). That was a first time I have heard something like that in the restaurant in Italy. This statement made my party to doubt appropriateness of my restaurant selection. Off the bet the place has lost some points on our informal comparative assessments of the restaurants. The food was good, but not great. My wife very much enjoyed the plate of the raw fish, which you can guess is not a Piedmontese fare. Their plin and tajarin were OK. I have tried sausage staffed onion. Do not remember how it tasted.
Verdict: I would like to believe that the service and the food are better on the week night, when the waiting staff and kitchen are not overwhelmed. As well I believe that being busy is a very poor excuse for the inferior service and food.
Guido: Michelin starred once. On Fontanafredda property. Pleasant environment and interesting menu. We all liked the place. Another Pira Vignarionda 2011 Barolo - excelllent!
This place gets an award for the best plin I have ever tasted! This stament was seconded by all the meat eaters in my party, who had tried 6 plates of plin within 5 days. I have sampled: the egg with truffles - OK, eel - OK, Tajarin - OK. Excellent desert - amaretti with zabaglione. My wife had an ice-cream, which I generally do not eat, but she liked it.
Verdict: The plin makes it worth a visit. It is a good experience in general. Please consider it for a meal.
La Torre, Cherasco: Our second visit. We enjoyed it as much as the first one. Tomato and tuna terrine. Onion tart, Tajarin. Fois. Lumache. No complaints on service.
Verdict: would be happy to come again.
La Cocinella, Seravalle d'Langhe: This is still my favorite restaurant in Piedmonte (and hence Italy). The meal this time was even better than the last. I went with the antipasto sampler, Tajarin con coniglio (the best one of once I have tried). Frito misto of the local lamb and asparagus. My wife had a seafood tasting menu, which she loved. Rest of the party had the similar feelings. Ettore Germano Lazarito 2009 Barolo - superb!
Verdict: It is the best meal you can get in the region. Please make an effort to get there.
We have checked out Koki’s Wine Bar in Barbaresco with an intention to try Gaja Barbaresco, which this place sells by the glass. 2013 Gaja was 35 euro/ glass. We got a bottle for 170 euro for 5 people. Great wine, but not sure if it is worth the money.
Osteria de Bocondivino, Bra: The choice was made on the basis of the geographic proximity to La Morra, where we stayed, along with the curiosity about where the Slow Food movement has started. It is a rather simple place with a small menu. We liked all the dishes, although they did not leave any lasting impressions. What did, was a 1/2 bottle of 2011 Paolo Scavino for a symbolic price of 30 euro. 40-egg yolks tajarin was good, but even during this trip we had much better tajarin.
Verdict: the place definitely deserves a visit, at least from the historico-cultural prospectives. I do not think you will be disappointed with the food.
I will continue my notes on Veneto and Lombardia within the next few days.
Once again, for the pictures, check my instagram @fooddao account. I will be posting them over the next few weeks.