Continued from Europe 2016 – Part 9.
Alba: Its food and wine
The Alba region is known for:
- Its food, especially truffles, hazelnuts and salamis
- High quality wines, Borolo and Barbaresco
- The Slow Food movement which began in the nearby town of Bra.
We were staying in an apartment in an Agriturismo property right in the middle of a huge vineyard only five kilometres from Alba. Its location gave us the opportunity to travel throughout the region to visit wineries and restaurants in the villages and to buy up on local produce to prepare at home. The truffle omelette we prepared one breakfast-time was a highlight.
Vineyards are the dominating feature of the Alba region – see the previous post for photographic evidence.
But three B’s crop up and and they can be a little confusing.
- Barbera is an Italian red grape variety that is widely planted in the Alba region.
- Barbaresco is the name for a red wine made from the Nebbiolo grape variety from vineyards mainly to the east of Alba.
- Barolo is also a red wine made from Nebbiolo but from vineyards mainly to the south west of Alba.
- There are differences in soils between the Barbaresco and Barolo regions and different rules for making the wine.
- Barbera is not considered to be one of the great wine varieties.
- However, the Nebbiolo wines of Barbaresco and Barolo are highly regarded, especially Barolo which is considered to be among the very best red wines produced in Italy.
We were too early for the white truffle season, but some black truffles were available in the shops. We bought two, which we would later use back at the apartment.
The markets were well-stocked with the local specialities, especially hazelnuts and salamis.
And pasta features of course.
There is certainly no shortage of restaurants in Alba and in the surrounding towns and villages. However, to eat well and not be disappointed you need to do your research. There are four restaurants we would go back to eagerly.
Osteria da Gemma is located in Roddino. There is no choice – you eat what is presented to you, sometimes in large quantities. We had eleven courses and were very happy with the final price.
Osteria de Boccondivino, of Slow Food fame, is in Bra.
La Piola is in the main square of Alba, but the quality defies one’s concerns about its tourist trap location. (This photo of their famous blackboard menu is from their website.)
Bovio is a restaurant with a wonderful view just outside the hillside town of La Morra. Our trip notes say “we shared a salad with quail, quail egg and black truffle, one of us had porcini mushrooms with a cheese and polenta fondue and black truffles, the other had fine spaghetti with a ragu of Bra sausage”.
Black truffle omlette
Ada Nada, our Agriturismo, is located outside the hillside town of Treiso. As well as a being a functioning vineyard and winery, it has accommodation in about a dozen rooms and apartments and attracts visitors from around the world.
We chose one of the apartments, which, while starkly furnished, had this view.
We wanted to cook often for ourselves at night time, rather than eat out. And we had two black truffles to get through. Our trip notes mention the following evening meals “peperonata followed by pasta with black truffle” and “seared quail with hazelnut salad”. And the notes mention “black truffle omelette for breakfast”. We grated the truffle and stirred it through the egg mixture before cooking in the normal manner.
This concludes our series on Europe 2016. You might be interested in our future posts on some of the challenges and delights of travelling in Europe and some of the tools we use for planning our travels. See Europe – Challenges and Delights and Travel Tips.