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EPISODE TWENTY THREE: Last dinner in Italy – until next time

Our trip is sadly coming to an end. Tomorrow we fly from Malpensa airport in Milan, from there to Doha in Qatar and then home to O. R. Tambo in Johannesburg. We are celebrating our month-long journey at international acclaimed chef Enrico Crippa’s restaurant.

The setting is the beautiful square at the cathedral in Alba and Enrico cleverly gives you the best of both worlds. Downstairs there is the laid back informal La Piola, while upstairs and thought a seemingly secret entrance the Grande dame and Michelin stared Piazza Duomo with more formal fare (and break the bank prices!)

We opt for La Piola. The menu is small and changes every day, ensuring the freshest produce and creative changes possible. The staff is extremely informative and while we try in our best Italian they are practising their English. They spoil all our translating fun by supplying a menu sheet printed in Italian, German and English!

We decide to share the Misto di antipasti (assortment of traditional hors d oeuvre- a la the translation). An interesting plate arrives: thinly sliced veal with tuna fish mayonnaise, Russian salad, cured ham with sweet and sour vegetables, a local cheese (Ariobra) with onion marmalade, veal tartar with seasoning and Parma cheese, a fish pate with basil pesto and slivers of beef tongue.

Goodness and this is just the starter! We are having an Italian feast with a twist. Then follows the Primi. I choose the Agnolotti del plin al burro e salvia (freshly homemade ravioli with butter and sage) alternatively it is also served with a roast veal sauce. Hubby has the Tajarin al ragu di salsiccia (homemade tajarin pasta with an Italian sausage sauce). This option is alternatively available with the more traditional butter and sage version.

The pasta is to die for. After a month of exposure to Italian fare it has to come to our last night to have the best pasta ever. The ravioli melts in your mouth and is fragrant and juicy. The tarjarin looks like angel hair pasta and leaves your every taste bud utterly satisfied.

I have no space for a Secondi but hubby tries out the Tagliata di fassona con patate morbide, topinambur croccanti e spinaci saltati ( Fassona veal steak with mash potatoes , crunchy topinambur and spinach) It turns out that topinambur, is deep fried parsnip crisps and fassona, is a veal product of the area. Our meal is accompanied by an aromatic glass of red Nebbiolo, a wine grown and produced locally. With really no space for dessert we end off with a cappuccino served with mini halva cakes. La Piola signifies everything that modern dining out is about. Simple classic food extremely well prepared with fresh local produce in season and service of top quality.

It is our last night in Italy; nostalgically we wander the paved old streets and reminisce about a magnificent journey with many highlights and memories for a lifetime.

Arrivederci Bella Italia! (Till we meet again, beautiful Italy)
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Posted by L and H 05:48

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