We decided this morning to take a little trip south to revisit two elegant towns we enjoyed on our last Piemonte trip, Alba and Cerasco. Amusingly, we found parking in the same lot we used last time, on the edge of the Centro. We first stopped in the Tourist office for a good map, and then wandered the pretty streets. The last time we were here it was market day, so it was nice to experience Alba on a quieter morning. There were very few others clutching maps or guidebooks, and we enjoyed just walking around, eyeing the rather expensive truffle items displayed in shop windows, stopping for coffee, poking into a church or two. I was amused to see a class of preschoolers being led in fingerplays by their teacher as the other passed out little gelato treats. And seeing that some things are universal, as some children immediately burst into tears when they did not get their first choice of flavors.
I wanted to go to Cherasco, as the last time we were there was on a Monday morning, and the town was firmly shuttered. We spent far too long on the awful truck route south of Alba (where there were several of the roadside prostitutes, I sincerely hope not the same unfortunate women we saw in 2007). We finally arrived in Cherasco, and easily found street parking. Cherasco isn't mentioned much in guidebooks, but it's an interesting Renaissance town to walk around for an hour. Lovely old buildings, a main street bracketed by huge arches, and in cooler weather, several chocolate shops.We didn't think to call ahead to see if we could get into the old Synagogue, which we'll do the next time we're in Piemonte.
By now it was approaching lunchtime. We sat in a shady corner to pull out our phones and look at restaurant reviews. I'm always tugged by places with positive reviews all in Italian, so we called a place just outside Cherasco named Locanda del Prof. It's on an unassuming local road , via Bra 33, in the back of a pink house perched between a seedy-looking motel and an auto parts store. We pulled in, and an elegantly-dressed woman popped out the door to welcome us. They have a tiny patio in the back, where we decided to sit. The owners are a charming older couple, and the food was spectacular.
We began by talking wine. We told the owner that we just wanted a glass apiece instead of a full bottle, what did he have that would be interesting? He brought out an unlabeled bottle from "a friend" for us to taste--a delicious barolo. Yes, please. We ordered carne crudo to share, and a minute later there began a furious pounding sound from inside. We were then served amazing plates of freshly pounded meat, to dress as we pleased. Melt-in-your-mouth. Remembering my marvelous pasta from yesterday, Larry ordered gnocchi with gorgonzola, which was so heavenly he had to guard it from my fork. I had tajarin with an aromatic rago. We split a hazlenut dessert, and ended with espresso. A group of young men accompanied by a large dog shared the patio, and the dog was treated to a dish of meat. If it was the same carne crudo I was eating, that dog had quite the treat. Lunch was 54 euros, a bargain for the quality. http://www.locandadelprof.it/
We rolled out and on to Barolo. We parked and walked over to the regional enoteca. Closed on Wednesday! We got a lot of shrugs at the neighboring wine museum when we asked why, as the sign said it should have been open. Ah well, Barolo had plenty of open shops happy to let us taste and purchase. Because of the complexities of packing for Switzerland and Italy, we did not have nearly the baggage room to buy as many bottles as we would have liked, and Larry was not about to pay a premium to have wine shipped. Ah well, another reason to return.
We stopped in La Morra to admire the views, and then attempted to find the Capella della Brunate, the deconsecrated tiny church painted by Sol LeWitt. A sign pointed ambiguously between two roads. We tried both, eventually headed down a steep unpaved road through a vineyard, but didn't see it. We're probably the only tourists in La Morra who blinked and missed it. Ah well, yet one more reason to return.
Drove home, salad and wine for dinner.