Day 7: Lunch at Ristorante La Ciau del Tornavento (Micheline 1 star), a quick tour of Barbaresca and a drive-by at Ferrero factory in Alba.
La Ciau del Tornavento: (5 star, Great food. More formal than I expected. Friendly services. Micheline 1 star.)
Slow and rainy morning
I woke up to a rainy morning so I decided to stay in and use this time to get day 3, day 4 and day 5 uploaded. Since the apartment that I am staying does not provide wifi (This is turning out to be much more inconvenient than I anticipated.), I walked over to the tourism office to use their free Internet for uploading. I was thinking that this all would be done in 30 minutes, but it took over two hours! I was going to have a cup of cappuccino afterwards, but it was almost 12pm when I got the upload finished. Italians do not drink coffee with any milk in it after 11am, so I gave up my morning coffee and rushed back to the apartment. It takes about 20 minutes to get to my lunch restaurant. I gotta get going.
La Ciau del Tornavento was recommended to me by Laura, the owner of the apartment that I’m staying in. I had mentioned to her that I love risotto and she said that this restaurant has really good risotto.
So far, I have had amazing risotto at Trattoria da Romano in Venice, and really great risotto at Piazza Duomo in Alba. How will La Ciau del Tornavento’s risotto fare?
They offered a truffle menu. It was very tempting. However, risotto was not on it. I decided to skip that and go with beef tartare for appetizer and truffle risotto for main course.
Just like every other restaurant I’ve been to in Piedmont, Amuse-Bouche were served: Cream of chestnut soup and some small pastry bites.
Then my raw beef arrived. Truffle on top, of course! It came with some sauce but I thought it was unnecessary. The beef was really good. A bit of olive oil and salt, plus truffle would’ve been enough. I am really surprised that I can eat raw meat like this. I remember thinking that there’s no way I’d eat this when I was still back home doing research. The quality of the beef here is so good and there is no gamy taste at all.
Then risotto arrived. It was perfect. Rice was al dante. Creamy and buttery. Every single grain was intact. This risotto is very close at the top with Trattoria da Romano in Venice. This one is cleaner and of course with truffles, while the one from Trattoria da Romano was done with fish broth and nothing else. Both were amazing.
Now my dessert. Panna cotta gelato with caramel syrup and shaved white truffle on top. This dish was amazing. The best dessert that I’ve had on this trip. The gelato was smooth, soft and creamy, paired with slight bitterness and smokiness from the caramel and the heavenly shaved white truffle on top. I can’t imagine any other dessert topping this. I was blown away.
And the sweets at the end.
After I paid for the lunch, they offered to have a visit to their wine cellar. Some amazing wine in there. The oldest wine was a bottle of Barolo from 1945! That was the year when my parents were born!
I decided to swing by Barbaresco before heading back to Alba. The vineyards looked so mysterious and romantic hiding behind the fog and misty rain.
I stopped by the tourism center at Barbaresco and the girl there told me that all the humble looking residential houses on the road are wineries. Every single one of them! She said just go knock on the door and many of them will receive guests who came here for wine. Since I don’t know wine very well, speak no Italian, and I was driving, I decided to simply drive around a bit and head back to Alba. Who would’ve thought that the big name winery such as Gaja and Bruno are in such a humble looking small town!
As I head back to Alba and right before I entered the old town center, I saw the factory of Ferrero, the maker of Nutella! They do not receive visitors, so I can only take a picture of the front entrance.
It was raining pretty hard by the time I got back to the apartment, so I called it a day and stayed in to continue writing. I got many days to catch on.