07 Nov2016

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We arrived well after noon, almost 2pm I think, and after 30 hours in transit, we were tired and I was very hungry. The staff at the hotel offered to serve lunch from the Bistrot menu out in the courtyard and we settled into our table under a large umbrella and ordered a simple lunch of pasta and salad. I had the spaghetti all’Amatriciana, first because the hotel and (hundreds of other restaurants across Italy and the world) had a promotion where they donated some of the proceeds from the dish to the hill town of Amatrice that was recently devoted by an earthquake, and second, this pasta is a personal favorite. It arrived well-sauced, almost over-sauced really, but it was delicious and exactly what I needed.

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Mrs. MM had a tajarin with fresh porcini mushrooms that was so flavorful and delicious! Tajarin are on freshly made egg noodles that were unctuously rich and made with a LOT of egg yolks, apparently. She only finished 70% of her dish and of course I polished off the rest… :)

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We shared a beautiful mixed green salad that was thoughtfully assembled… 4-5 kinds of incredibly fresh and properly hydrated lettuce leaves and beet tops, thinly shaved fennel, fennel fronds, basil, other herbs, finely julienned carrots and oddly, some torn shiso leaf that provided hits of flavor that I found unusual and out of place at first. But when I asked if it was indeed shiso, they nodded and I guess I learned something new that day with respect to the mixture of greens and how a basic salad can be easily elevated with care and creativity. Dressing was just a good olive oil and some excellent balsamic vinegar. A bread basket just put the carb count way over the top. But fortified, we retired to our room for a couple of hours before taking a late afternoon stroll through town to prepare ourselves for dinner at the Bistrot proper…

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Later that evening, we settled into a table at the Bistrot above the Michelin-starred restaurant (where we ate the following night) and I ordered a PHENOMENAL beef carpaccio that was just so stunningly deep red in a good appetizing way…

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The meat must have been salted and aged for a while, it was just so intensely red, and it was beautifully arranged in a mound over lettuce leaves, a clever reversal of the more common way of laying the meat flat on the plate, and piling the greens and dressing on top of it. The hotel writes that the dressing was made with honey, lapsing souchong tea and lemon, a snazzy vinaigrette of sorts.

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Mrs. MM wanted a light dinner, and only ordered this salad with some toma or tomino (sorry, didn’t note the exact variety) cheese with some lamb’s lettuce, radishes and walnuts. It was heavier than it looks, with two generous slices of warmed cheese lurking under the leaves.

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I also ordered a classic bowl of meat ravioli with tomato sauce, probably more than my quota of tomato sauce pastas for being in Northern Italy, where one shouldn’t really order tomato based pastas… :) Overall the quality was very good for the prices charged, and I suspect the food came out of the same kitchen as the Michelin-starred place on the first floor. Service was wonderful, with one waiter attending to only our table the entire time. We were prepared to call it a day, slept well throughout the night, ready for a full-day of sightseeing in Alba and the Piedmont region…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Natie says:

    I am really enjoying the vacation posts. Keep them coming, MM!

    Nov 8, 2016 | 9:44 am

     
  2. ami says:

    Wait, tomato-based pastas aren’t big in northern Italy? Makes we want to review my travel journal what food I ate there. My most memorable dish was a delicious seafood risotto in Burano.

    Nov 8, 2016 | 10:32 am

     
  3. Marketman says:

    ami, Northern dishes and pastas are much more known for creamy, less tomato based dishes…

    Nov 8, 2016 | 1:41 pm

     
  4. Footloose says:

    That old joke* does not seem to apply here at all.

    *Made famous in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, about customers complaining at a restaurant. One woman says that the food is terrible. The other replies, I know, and such small portions!

    Nov 8, 2016 | 6:07 pm

     
  5. Monty says:

    I’ve had fresh porcini pasta in Italy and I found the mushroom itself to be very mild in flavor. Having been used to dried porcini here in Manila, I somehow appreciate it’s more assertive taste, but the texture of the fresh mushroom is better.

    Nov 8, 2016 | 9:51 pm

     
  6. Natie says:

    Off topic, MM. Did you get all your boxes ( Christmas Tree)?

    Nov 9, 2016 | 4:06 am

     
  7. Marilen says:

    Grazie, caro MM. Grazie. Yes, I am now going on my virtual holiday. (I must be Italian in another life because Italy remains a very favorite destination) I much appreciate your posts of food and la bella Italia – in truth, a much needed break – experiencing much anxiety and suspense here – our presidential election. Iamwithher. Go Blue.

    Nov 9, 2016 | 5:15 am

     
  8. Marketman says:

    Marilen, I understand. I think I could return to Italy and France twice a year until I am wheelchair bound and not tire of them… Natie, yes, they did get here (both boxes)… Monty, I know what you mean, but this pasta was very flavorful, probably owing to a reduced sauce that was packed with umami.

    Nov 9, 2016 | 6:11 am

     
  9. Footloose says:

    @Marilen, …a much needed break – experiencing much anxiety and suspense here – our presidential election. Iamwithher. Go Blue.

    I share your disappointment and horror. I have always stepped aside for intelligence, polish and introspection. Am not really ready for this although I live in Canada. But this too shall pass, albeit more excruciatingly than kidney stones.

    Nov 10, 2016 | 8:02 pm

     
  10. Marilen says:

    Footloose, thanks for the virtual hug. Actually, went through the grieving process.. initially – disbelief, shock, anger (cursing is permitted, lintikan) and now just a profound sense of sadness. Can’t say that I’d choose passing kidney stones. (‘scusi, MM)

    Nov 11, 2016 | 12:27 pm

     

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