The Alba and Langhe SIMPOSIO is a travel cookbook and experiential guide to the Piedmontese reign of foliage, wine, and truffles.
a Piedmont cookbook and slow travel guide
THE ALBA AND LANGHE (PIEDMONT) TRAVEL COOKBOOK
In this heartfelt travel cookbook dedicated to Alba and Langhe, you’ll find truffles, hazelnuts, wines, and the recipes of these hard-working and life-loving people. Plus Italian Fall traditions, Christmas inspiration, and more.
Browsing the pages of this Alba and Langhe travel cookbook, you’ll find regional recipes, interviews with the locals, dreamy landscapes, and folklore.
Plus, topics related to Fall celebrations, superstitions, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve in Italy.
06 Welcome To Alba & Langhe
08 A Piedmontese Bucket List
10 An Open Air Circus
14 The Clown
16 The Dog Tamer
22 It’s A Truffle World
30 The Wild Man
36 Hazelnut Cake
38 Hazelnut Oil Cookies
40 The Sorcerers
46 Grape Jam
48 Ricotta And Grape Crostini
54 Madame Barolo
56 Brasato Al Barolo
60 Barolo Tagliatelle
62 Stuffed Pumpkin
64 Italian Candies
66 The Art Of Doing
76 The Vine Master
84 The Partigiano
88 Savory Pies
90 Chickpea No-Crust Pie
92 Rice Pie
94 Rice & Spinach No-Crust Pie
96 Stefania And Elena
102 Acciughe Al Verde
108 Ragù Langarolo
110 San Martino
114 Charcuterie Board
116 A Poem
118 Kale Eggs In Purgatory
120 One-Pan Mushroom Pasta
122 Bagna Cauda
128 Agnolotti Del Plin
132 Gift Wrapping
140 Beet Cough Syrup
142 Piazza Celebrations
ABOUT ALBA AND LANGHE, PIEDMONT
Before you read the Alba & Langhe Simposio, here are some tips and information to plan your visit or simply know better this extraordinary land.
WHERE IS ALBA AND GETTING THERE
Alba is a town in the province of Cuneo, Piedmont, Northern Italy.
I heartily suggest going there by car to explore the surroundings. The Langhe hills have recently become a UNESCO World Heritage Site: they are a spectacular landscape of nature, vineyards, hazel trees, perched towns, and castles.
You can fly to Turin’s airport and rent a car there, it’s about an hour’s drive, but a beautiful drive. From Rome and Milan, you can reach Turin by train.
WHEN TO GO TO ALBA AND LANGHE
Alba is a perfect Fall destination. The Alba White Truffle Festival is usually held between the end of October and November, and it is joyful, engaging, and delicious.
Plus, Fall is the perfect season to taste Langhe wines, eat local products, and enjoy all those tones of red, brown, orange, and green: the best foliage panorama I’ve seen to date in Italy.
Hotels in Alba are costly, so if you are looking for something more affordable, and, guess what, more picturesque, look for “locande” (guesthouses) or bed & breakfasts in the countryside.
You’ll have to drive a bit, but waking up facing a vineyard is worth every mile. Plus, it’s always a good occasion to talk to locals and let them guide you by suggesting authentic businesses, restaurants, wineries, etc.
When we planned our trip, we consulted the list from the truffle fair website. Of course, the earlier you book, the better.
I’m sharing the list of the best restaurants in Alba (and surroundings) I prepared for our trip. All of them were collected through friends’ and friends of friends’ recommendations.
- Osteria dell’Arco – Alba
- Osteria dei Sognatori – Alba
- Trattoria del Bollito (we had dinner here, it was delicious!!!) – Alba
- La Piola – Alba
- Ca’ del Lupo (OMG that egg and truffle dish!) – Montelupo Albese
- Osteria del Vignaiolo – La Morra
- Locanda Fontanazza – La Morra (one word: true quality)
- Solferino – Torino (the day we were leaving, before taking the train back to Rome – it was divine!)
ready for Italy?
THINGS TO DO IN ALBA
Alba is a small, pedestrian town; in a day, you’ll visit it all.
But here’s a list of things you should absolutely do:
- Have an aperitivo with local wines, polpette (meatballs), roasted potatoes, and fried polenta.
- Wander through the narrow streets and visit the churches – the gothic San Lorenzo, the baroque Maddalena, and San Domenico, my favorite.
- Visit Beppe Fenoglio’s house, a brilliant Italian writer, dramaturg, and partisan (this is important, keep it in mind for when you’ll read the Simposio).
- Visit the Slow Food Market on a Saturday or Sunday morning and explore local specialties.
If you go there during the Alba White Truffle Festival:
- attend a Truffle Course: remember to book in advance – lessons are in Italian and English;
- have lunch at the fair: it is crowdy, and you might be in line for quite a bit, but the food is local, authentic, and really really good;
- shop for wines: the fair is full of producers that will let you taste their scarlet treasures and that ship worldwide.
THE LANGHE REGION
Here are some of the most beautiful places to see in the Langhe region:
- Barolo, yes, where the Barolo wine is produced;
- Pollenzo, where the Slow Food University was founded in 2004, it is the only university dedicated to Gastronomic sciences in the World;
- Neive, the cutest perched town in the region;
- Castello di Grinzane, to shop for wine and Grappe, visit the Langhe museum, and see where the Order of the Knights of the Truffle and Wines of Alba gathers for its meetings and rituals (you’ll learn more about them through the book);
- Cherasco, to try the “baci di Cherasco” (kisses), hazelnuts covered in dark chocolate;
- La Morra not only is a beautiful town, but it is also home to the Cantina Comunale (Municipal winery), a place where locals discover, taste, and buy local wines.
ALBA WINES, WINERIES, AND VINEYARDS
Don’t leave the Langhe valley without tasting at least a Barolo, a Barbaresco, and a Dolcetto.
But if you have time, complete your tasting experience with a Barbera, Asti Spumante, Nebbiolo, Moscato d’Asti, Grignolino, Erbaluce, and a Gattinara.
Don’t miss a wine tasting (book at least a few days in advance). Here are all the vineyard suggestions we got from friends and friends of friends:
- Cascina Gramolere
- Ca’ Neuva (this is the one we tried, we loved every part of the wine tour and tasting)
- Tenuta San Mauro
- Bricco del Cucù
We will learn more about how to taste and enjoy these wines on Simposio!
Piedmont is the first Italian producer of chocolate: Novi, Ferrero, and Venchi are located here. But you can easily buy all of them online or at Italian shops. While in Alba and Langhe, you should take the opportunity to taste (and buy) artisanal chocolates, spreads, and creams. You’ll need to check in an extra suitcase, trust me!
For Nutella aficionados: sorry, the visit to the factory is not available anymore.
When and if you visit Gherasco, there’s a delicious chocolatier that uses the world-famous Venezuelan cocoa to make his masterpieces: Riccardi.
SPECIALTIES YOU MUST TRY
Piedmont has 341 traditional specialties. It is the fifth Italian region with more traditional products. (The first one is Tuscany)
Too many for a trip of a few days, right?
Don’t worry, I selected the unmissable ones for you.
- Piedmontese beef: not only it is autochthonous and delicious, but also an ancient variety with a long, long story.
- Alba’s white truffle: more delicate than the black truffle, so don’t expect a dizzying flavor. You need to concentrate and have a clean palate to really appreciate its taste. It’s pretty impossible to take it back home with you, so feast on it as much as you can while you’re there!
- Hazelnuts: buy a sack at the market (I told you you’ll need an extra suitcase!), try the spreads, the cakes, and the cookies made with hazelnut flour!
- Robiola cheese: a soft-ripened stracchino-like delight. Try it with truffle flakes!
- Agnolotti del Plin: pinched agnolotti stuffed with pork and beef (We’ll make them in the cookbook and savor them in three old-world ways).
- Tajarin: tiny stretches of egg pasta, imagine spaghetti, but way thinner, fresh and eggy (we’ll learn to make them on SIMPOSIO). Try them with white truffles and butter or with beef ragù.
- Paste di Meliga: corn flour cookies so fragrant they’ll melt in your mouth. So you’ll need to taste another one, and another one… and another one!
- Alba’s torrone.
bring a bit of Piedmont to your home
Enjoy the Alba and Langhe Simposio!