As we’ve said to almost anyone who would listen in the past few weeks since we’ve returned from our adventures in the Piemonte, our trip felt charmed from beginning to (almost) end. One of our more magical experiences was in the little town of Barolo itself. On Monday of that week between appointments, we drove around to a few towns in the commune of Barolo, marveling at the beautiful scenery at every turn and snapping photos.
In Barolo, we found ourselves hungry and in need of some lunch, but as we strolled around, we realized that, this being January and one of the few times hard working winemakers and restauranteurs can take a vacation in this region, many places were closed. Fortunately, we stumbled on La Cantinetta (Via Roma, 33, 12060 Barolo, Italy 0173/56198) and had the kind of experience you always hope to have when traveling.
This place was clearly where locals hang out, and not realizing there’s a slightly more formal seating area in the back room, Doug and I parked ourselves in the front room near the bar and cash register. At one of the other tables was a group of young guys in paint-splattered work pants enjoying a few nice bottles of wine and a leisurely lunch – only in Europe! At another table, a single gentleman worked his way through several courses and just let the waiter fill his glass with whatever he saw fit – his nose buried in a newspaper, he barely glanced at the label as the bottle was brought by.
This same waiter also took care of Doug and I, and, as he listened to us try to stumble through ordering from the menu, sort of waived at us in that brusque-yet-kind way only seasoned restaurant professionals can project, and said he would bring us some things. We never saw our menus again.
The highlight of our lunch was quite possibly the most delicious ravioli ever created. This dish, which we later learned is the restaurant’s specialty, is an ethereally thin, round layer of pasta that holds a little moat of pureed greens that encircle a single, perfect, bright orange, raw egg yolk. There is no sauce, just the barest dusting of grated cheese. Once you cut into that egg, it’s all the sauce you need. Decadent does not even begin to describe it – one is more than enough.
We left that afternoon exactly the way you should feel after a truly wonderful lunch – full, but with a new bounce in our steps.
The next day, we had a wonderful visit to Damilano, also in Barolo. The slick, modern winery was a stark contrast to the much smaller Brovia estate we’d visited the day before, but the wines were just as delicious. We especially fell in love with the 2010 vintage of their Nebbiolo Marghe, which we got to taste before it arrived in the US. Stay tuned to your inbox for some exciting news about the new edition!
We were in for a happy surprise for lunch when our charming host Barbara Levi Cavaglione said she’d take us to her favorite spot – the very place we’d eaten the day before!
Of course, we had that incredible ravioli again – who could resist? We weren’t able to bring the ravioli back for you, but we hope you enjoy the wines we’ve discovered!