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A guide to Piemonte discovering white truffle, wine & culture in Langhe, Monferrato & Roero

My personal highlight: Learning 1:1 from a truffle connoisseur how to recognize a quality white truffle !

The aim of my piedmont travel this year was all in the light of the International Alba White Truffle Fair Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba. It takes place always beginning of October until end of November and attracts people from all of the world. At the fair local truffle sellers gather to have their tartufi officially evaluated for quality before they are ready to be sold. Beside truffles you can try and buy pasta (with and without truffle), olive oil, wines and delicious roasted hazelnuts. During the fair there is the chance to attend a variety of workshops or tasting classes, too.

White Alba truffle can be found only from late September to January

What I found special at this fair is the chance to talk to the truffle hunters also called “trifulau” and get all the insights about this unique product. They are legendary characters who live in secrets and observation wandering around forests in search of truffles for resale at restaurants, markets, fairs. To see with one’s eyes the relationship between man and dog is an other added value.

What exactly is a truffle?

The term truffle comes from the vulgar Latin “tufera” which had in the Middle Ages negative resonances, even poisoned fruit, of plant tumorTruffles are the fruiting body of mushrooms. They born and live under the ground. For this reason they are called hypogea and belong to the family of Tuberaceae, class of Ascomiceti.

Truffles exist due to a symbiosis with the roots of plants from which minerals and other nutrients are exchanged. This is why the type of plant affects the characteristics of truffles: for white, the main responsible plants are wild poplaroaklime and wild willow.

How to recognize if a truffle is of high quality?

With a sensorial analysis of touchingsmelling and sight you understand its quality. The price of truffles increases when the aesthetic appearance is impeccable. Truffles with slight cuts or holes, maintaining a flavor can cost much less. An excessive amount of ammonia is a sign of a truffle to be discarded, as well as a bad consistency. That is why these evaluations are important and help to understand if the price you pay is good. At the fair you can get every truffle you buy checked by an official jury.

Planning your Piedmont trip – include one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site: the wine yards as Langhe, Monferrato and Roero and several food stops along the way!

First stop on your route: Alba

Alba is a territory that offers an excellent food choice (the region counts to one of Italy’s highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants) and some of the globe’s most beloved powerhouse wine regions as Barolo, Barbaresco and Asti.

One of my personal highlights was the walk through Alba centre where I got seduced by the unmistakable smell of roasted hazelnuts coming from the company Ferrero

Another fun fact: the Slow Food movement was born in Piedmont. Here every year different culinary events as the fair “cheese” takes place where people from all over the world join to try and explore different delicacies..

This area is stamped with grand cathedrals, five-star hotels, and meandering cobblestone-lined streets. In the mood to know more about cultural sites to visit, check this site!

Visiting Asti!

In Asti I absolutely recommend to see the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, it is one of the most important Gothic cathedrals in Piedmont. Want to add a culinary experience to your cultural site visit? Buy one of the best hand made 100% hazelnut cake at the shop: Daniella! This laboratory creates artisan biscuits, tarts and cakes that you won’t find anywhere else!

Rumor say, that Dagobert Duck used to live in one of the tower located in the medieval heart of Asti: the tower of the Palazzo Gazzelli di Rossana, in the city centre

Explore Barbaresco and the home of one of the most famous Italian wine producers called Gaia

My favorite village on the trip was the city of Barbaresco. This is the home of one of the most famous Italian wine producers called Gaia, a family business founded in 1859, when Giovanni Gaja turned his tavern into a winery. Thanks to this genious, Barbaresco was lifted from the shadows of neighbouring Barolo! Gaja produces four great Italian red wines as Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino, Bolgheri (the region of the Tuscany) and even Barolo.

Once in Barbaresco make sure to make it all the way up to the Barbaresco tower. The view from the 3d level is breathtaking. At the top the view goes beyond the Tanaro river, situated roughly 200 meters below, towards the Langhe, the Roero, the Astigiano and Monferrato and as far as the Alpine mountain chain. This is where you get a complete picture of this area.

Driving through Piedmont you can admire landscapes of kiwi fields and hazelnuts trees!

Are you in the mood to experience some local food producers and taste home made raw veal salsiccia in Bra?

In the city of Bra you see mostly small, family-run shops. A must try is the raw “Salsiccia di Bra”. The sausage is made of lean cattle meat mixed with belly pork (20-30%), water and a secret mix of spices. Buy it at the shop Macelleria Tibaldi Davide.

Put this on your list, too: the oldest pastry in town “Caffe Pasticceria Converso“. Since 1838 here 100% handmade pastry made of pure hazelnuts and other genuine local ingredients are created with pure passion.

How to find wineries for your Piedmont wine tour

In a previous blog story I introduced the region of Langhe. Get all travel information on how to best organize your wine tour here!
A new wine producer I discovered during this year’s trip is the winery Coppo. Coppo is one of the oldest family-run wineries in all of Italy. The origins of the winery date back to 1892. The major part of the winery’s production centers on BarberaMetodo Classico sparkling wines.

May absolute favorite white sparkling wine I found here: The Riserva Coppo sparkling wine brut metodo classico. It’s perlage is very fine and the taste elegant and not too dry!

Where to eat on your Piedmont trip

  • La libera, Alba – To recommend for a dinner in the city centre of Alba. Exquisite dishes as Carne cruda battuta al coltello (raw meat), Vitello tonnato, Ravioli di gallina nel suo brodo or Agnolotti del Plin with truffle in an ambience that takes care about design.
  • Ristorante Piazza Duomo, Alba – 3 Michelin Star absolutely worth making this experience and try Chef Enrico Crippa’s unventive, artistic Italian dishes matched with superb wines from the region.
  • Osteria dei Meravigliati , Canelli  – A place with to enjoy a traditional lunch with starters as Gobbo Di Nizza with a fontina cheese sauce and an egg (with or without truffle) and some home made Tajarin pasta (typical local pasta) with truffle.
  • Restaurant Campamac, Barbaresco – a 1 Michelin Star restaurant with one of the most beautiful wine cellars in Italy! Chef Maurilio Garola
  • Il Cascinale Nuovo, Isola D’asti, 1 Michelin Star, Chef Walter Ferretto, find traditional and innovative cuisine using great Piedmontese ingredients with the scents and flavors from every corner of the world.
  • Restaurant Fre – Monforte D’Alba, 1 Michelin Star, Chef Paolo Meneguz, a top-notch gastronomic experience that’s rooted in the region but holds an international, modern appeal.

Where to sleep on your Piedmont trip

A warm thank you to the tourism office of Langhe Monferrato and Roero and especially to our guide Gaia that made this press trip very precious and memorable.

Get more Lovefoodish Travel Stories here!

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Obrist SA – Discovering exquisite Swiss Wines that pair well with an aperitive or Cheese fondue

My personal highlight: Delicate white & red drops tickling my senses to discover Switzerland’s wine heritage month by month

How better way to discover the selection of a wine producer than having a surprise wine box flattering directly into your letterbox? It’s the ideal way to get introduced to one of the most important wine producer and distributor in Switzerland.

Who is the wine company Obrist ?

Back in the year 1896 Emile Obrist recognizes the importance of owning vineyards to ensure the production of quality wines. He gradually acquires prestigious wineries such as the Cure d’Attalens, the Clos du Rocher and the vineyards of the Château de Chardonne. Since the 1960s, Obrist has worked closely with the traditional wine cellar Maurice Gay to cover wine demands from the canton of Valais.

What I learn today, is that Obrist belongs to one of Switzerland’s most important wine producers and distributors. They own 83 hectares of vineyards extending from the La Côte region, through the Lavaux terraces, to the Chablais.

Lavaux Vineyard Terraces – A world heritage nominated by UNESCO

The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces stretch for about 30 km along the south-facing northern shores of Lake Geneva. They go from the Chateau de Chillon to the eastern outskirts of Lausanne (Vaud region). This valley is breathtaking, traveling by train will give you the opportunity to catch the beauty of this spectacular landscape. It demonstrates in a highly visible way the evolution and development over almost a millennia, through the well preserved landscape and buildings.

The different soils and microclimates of the vineyards create an captivating variation of flavors in the wines of this area. At the edge of the lake, the vineyards gorge themselves on the triple effect of the sun: the rays directly from the sky, those reflecting off the lake and the warmth stored in the walls forming the thousands of terraces of Lavaux. The famous grape variety of the region is the Chasselas, a fruity and dry wine.

Talking about how to experience the wines best paired with food, discovering my favorite white, rosé and red drops from Obrist

Shared happiness is double happiness

Together with my foodie friends we prepared an aperitivo Italian Style containing healthy grilled veggies, prosciutto e melone, tomato bruschette and tasty Swiss Cheese as the tête a moin.

The wine we paired with this aperitivo is the rosé Nr. 1 Cuvée E. Obrist 2016. A wine offering a smooth delicate note on your tongue with a cherry and pepper note.

Price / bottle: 7.30 CHF – Order it here

Best white wine to use for a traditional Cheese Fondue

An excellent wine to pair with an aromatic and creamy cheese fondue moitie moitie is the Arvine from Yvorne Chablais – Cloes de Rennauds AOC 2016. Dry and fruity with a lightly sour note from the rhubarbs. It just points out perfectly the flavors of the cheese. Wine & Cheese made our belly go boom!

Price / bottle: CHF 19.40 – Order it here

Find here the basic recipe for 4 persons – 800 grams of cheese fresh grated, moitie moitie (Gruyère AOP and Vacherin Fribourgeois AOP)

  1. Cut half kilo of bread in little squares (bread with a crust is recommended)
  2. Take 2 cloves of garlic and rub it all over the caquelon pot
  3. Boil 4 dl of wine together with garlic on a small heat in the caquelon pot
  4. Add 800 grams of the pre-grated cheese. Melt the cheese over medium heat and stir constantly
  5. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch (for example maizena) in 2 dl of kirsch Schnaps and stir in the cheese
  6. Continue to stir patiently. If the cheese and wine do not bind, add a little lemon juice or some more maizena
  7. Season with pepper and grated nutmeg
  8. Remove the caquelon from the heat, light the heater and place it on the table on your heater
  9. Stir constantly and get ready to start the pleasure

A red wine for a special occasion, time for some romance with your romeo?

The perfect choice is a red drop. Valais d’Or” Humagne Rouge 2017, Valais AOC from the producer Maurice Gay. This is  is one of the most outstanding representatives wine producers from the Swiss region Valais. Here in-depth know-how with advanced technology are combined to produces exceptional products. This red wine won the silver medal for “sélection des Vins du Valais September 2017“. Characterized with a full body, intense and fruity.

Price / bottle: CHF 21.30 – Order it here

An other good drop is this assemblage: MASC Assemblage Rouge 2016, also from Maurice Gay. This wine is awarded with the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse – August 2018. It convinces due to the perfect mix of Merlot, Ancellotta, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, best to pair with delicate grand cru chocolate. You Romeo or Giulietta will melt away!

Price / bottle: CHF 28 – Order it here

Now its your turn. Explore all the choices online! www.obrist.ch – use Promocode MARINA15 to get 15 CHF discount on your order!
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