Arriving in Alba at this time of year is always exciting. Every street in the town smells of truffles. The shops display their truffles for sale. Visitors walk along window shopping, stopping for a coffee and a chance to discuss their next meal.
We were staying at ” Relais San Maurizio”, http://www.relaissanmaurizio.it” this beautiful chateau is located on the top of a hill surrounded by vineyards with the yellowing leaves of the Barolo and Barbaresco grapes of this Alba region. We will spend 3 night here and explore the wineries, grappa producers and enjoy the spa at the hotel.
We tried to eat light at lunch and went wild at dinner. The first night the dinner in the wine cellar of the hotel started the adventure in full style. We shared a 6 course meal, only dessert was not covered with truffles. We were shown a plate of truffles that would be shaved over each course as we ordered our first bottle of 2001 GAJA and then the show began. As the truffles are shaved over your pasta, fondue,potatoes or egg you realize it is up to you to stop the motion, a true moment to pay attention.
When we went to our room at 1 am there was nothing to due but lay down and enjoy the whole experience and realize the next night held many of the same adventures of sight and flavor.
After a short night sleep we headed to a wine tasting at La Spinetta producing several different labels using grapes they grow in the surrounding regions of Asti and Alba, we loved their label called PIN only about $33.00 a bottle, using the Nebbiolo and Barbera grapes.
That evening we had a casual dinner in Alba at La Piola, this cafe is part of the famous Duomo restaurant. We had nice pasta covered in truffles, good salad and shared steak but this was our easy night because the next day was taking us to San Marco in the next town.
The next day our adventure took us to a Grappa producer, Rovero and lunch prepared by the family in their restaurant called “il Milin” http://www.agriturismoilmilin.it . This was interesting as the owners of ROVERO walked us through their distillery and wine rooms. Now I do understand the difference of the many types of grappa but still have a tough time drinking it, guess by the time grappa comes I have had way to much wine. Back to the hotel for a much needed massage and swim in the salt water pools.
The final evening was spend at an amazing family owned restaurant called “San Marco” in the village of Canelli, http://www.sanmarcoristorante.it. The owners Mariuccia and Pier Carlo Ferrero take care of every detail. Pier Carlo is the truffle hunter along with his dog, he is also the president of all truffle searchers, and brought to our table a beautiful platter cover with a glass dome so when the glass was lifted your first sensation, after the visual, was the smell of the fresh truffles. Mariuccia is the head chef and speaks good english so was willing to tell us all the details about our meal, including the pasta course that contained only the flour, 2 kilos, and 40 egg yolks then as many truffles shaved on top.
Every course they prepared for us was perfect, including the pumpkin they had carved for our Halloween celebration. To end the evening we were served a zabaglione prepared table side on an induction cook top. The wines, the food and the people created a lasting memory of why we go so far to experience the true sensualities of life.