Northern Italy

northern italy

It’s 4:30 am and I’m wide-awake talking to myself again. Having just returned from ten days in Northern Italy, my mind is all over the place. While it was wonderful to return to a place I love, it’s so good to be back home. Like most moms, I’m a total worrywart when I travel without the kids. All is well, but I did learn a lesson that I should have left clearer instructions stipulating that dying of the hair with red Kool-Aid falls firmly on the “no” list.

If you are planning or dreaming of a trip to Italy, November is an amazing time. You forgo the jam-packed tourist summer situations and it’s such a special time for food.  SO-MUCH-FOOD (great way to kick-off the holiday season, Val). When we travel we do seek out some museums, churches and architecture, but truthfully, our biggest cultural quest is always the food and wine.

wine in italy

The explosion of flavors matched the surrounding beauty. In the Veneto, exquisite seafood and unique shellfish like spider crabs and razor clams marry perfectly with the crisp white wines of the region. In Piedmont, white truffles, porcini and cardoons chased by Barbera and Barolo were on the agenda.

fall in italy

Walk with me…this pic was taken by accident but I love it.

It all began in Venice where beautiful seafood dominates. So many restaurants here, but we started at Alle Testiere. It’s a shoebox-sized place with a different menu daily based on the freshest catch at the fish market. Much of the seafood in Venice is served crudo, baked whole in a crust of salt or grilled like this  fish platter below. A feast paired with a luscious, fresh, crisp white wine from Alto Adige — heaven!

alle testiere

Here’s a pasta course from dinner at our favorite  Al Covo.  The clams were the size of the nail on your pinky finger, ultra tender and packed with a wonderfully sweet, yet briny flavor.

al covo

venice

We stopped at a few surrounding islands and then went onto Burano for Da Romano’s incredibly delicious and famous fish risotto. It’s worthy of every bit of praise.

da romano

About 40 minutes outside of Venice is the destination restaurant Antica Osteria da Cera that is exceptional. It is one of the best, if not the best restaurant I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at . With a focus on fish from the region matched with fresh garden fare, I continue to be astounded by its delicious offerings. Their cookery garden was inspiring; I can’t wait to share it with you — but first I need to focus on some major shampoo treatments for those beloved rascals.

antica osteria da cera

After a long drive to Alba we had our first taste of white truffle. There’s nothing like going straight to the source for this magnificent treat. Truffles plucked from the soil the day you eat them — that’s worth the experience right there.

alba truffles

On a bed of traditional Piedmontese egg noodles called tajarin, just add butter and shaved white truffles for a plate of perfection.

white truffles alba

Piedmont boasts a fall full of flavor with porcini mushrooms, hazelnuts, cardoons, persimmons and of course, those white truffles. November is the height of white truffle season. These flavors are often accompanied with beef and veal, served in a numerous ways from braised to raw.

I think this was the best vitello tonanto of my life.

piedmont veal

Have you ever seen such orange yolks?

truffle season

This happened a lot.

italy eating

Which made me want to do this…

nap time italy

In La Morra Osteria More e Macine.

In Serravalle Langhe, Trattoria La Coccinella is not to be missed. Look at this whole cooked onion stuffed with liver pate~ it was one of many courses we devoured.

la coccinella

Thanks for taking a walk with me through my recent  gluttony travels. All of these amazing meals have inspired me, I was making mental notes all along the trip. Just check me out sneaking a peek into the kitchen window at Sadler in Milan.

sadler

Ciao!

** For you locals, I am partnering up with the Four Seasons Biltmore and Chef Alesandro on December 3 to bring my recent travels to life here in Santa Barbara.  We have planned a five course Piedmontese inspired dinner paired with wine. For reservations, please contact the Bella Vista Restaurant at (805) 565-8232.

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6 thoughts on “Northern Italy”

Hi Val,
We returned from a wonderful trip to Italy in early October. Still lots of people (yuk). I had to struggle at first because I can’t eat gluten anymore (what a bummer!!!) so there were some culinary challenges. But what I discovered is that so many of the restaurants serve a wonderful gluten free pasta. It tastes like the real thing. I finally asked and learned that it was Garofalo. Well I can buy it on Amazon. John doesn’t mind eating it, because he can’t really tell the difference. Thought you might want to pass this along to any gluten free people you know. To me it’s sooo much better than the quinoa GF pasta.

Wow, the truffles look unbelievable! I would love those wrapped under my Christmas tree this year. Foodie heaven!

Valerie
I have recently found gluten free pasta by Barilla readily available at Albertsons. We tried it when my niece visited and it was delicious!

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