So this year, Alex and I decided to replace Thanksgiving with a new tradition: celebrating truffle season in Piemonte. We drove down one day after work and spent a long weekend enjoying early autumn in Italy's infamous wine and truffle region.
Here I am with my new best friend Whisky, outside our agriturismo (basically a home on a farm/vineyard where the owners serve you food fresh from the fields; found all over Italy, they are a fantastic -- and cheaper -- alternative to hotels) just outside of the truffle epicenter of Alba.
I went on an incredibly scenic morning run...
... with the agriturismo's two dogs, Whisky and Dora. Dora, in front, is just a six-month-old puppy, and didn't make it too far. Whisky, on the other hand...
Whisky resting directly outside our door after the run. 'Do you want to run more? Wanna play? Or maybe do you wanna just hang out?'
Went for a walk around the grounds...
...led by a very helpful local guide. I love you Whisky.
Best tour guide ever. Whisky will you marry me.
Eventually I got Alex out of bed. He was probably dreaming about our dinner the night before..
RISTORANTE LE TORRI - Piazza Vittorio Veneto 10, Castiglione Falletto
This is a fried egg swimming in melted cheese covered in shaved black truffle. With a celery stick, which balances out everything else and makes this a healthy low-cal side salad.
Oh, the fried egg drenched in butter was just my appetizer (real talk, I ordered two main courses and pretended one was an appetizer. #noshame #fatbuthappy).
Handmade pasta with butter, sage, and shaved white truffle (the local specialty, 'tajarin al tartufo').
This dinner only could've been improved if Whisky was there.
Cobwebs cleared, we hopped in the car and drove into Alba for the truffle fair.
The truffle market is an extremely crowded & popular affair in a big covered tent filled with vendors selling fresh pasta, cheese, wine, and big freshly unearthed truffles. You walk around and people thrust samples of wine-soaked cheese and local wine at you. And then, at least if you're Alex and I, you pretty much buy one of everything.
White truffles may look like un-delicious rocks but are actually an extremely expensive seasonal delicacy that are the specialty of this region. Alex bought a big one to cook, when we got back to Switzerland, with fresh pasta and butter and sage.
Alex dragged me into this wine store for some shopping and, surprise, I bonded instantly with this adorable pit bull puppy who also finds wine shopping super boring.
To reward me for my patience at the wine store Alex bought me a cookie sandwich. Ok we good.
In New York we had black market street stands selling knock offs of designer purses; in Italy, they sell truffles and mushrooms.
OSTERIA DEI SOGNATORI - Via Macrino 8, Alba
Go here. They don't take reservations and are extremely popular; show up before 7pm (I know, I know, real Italians are barely finishing lunch by 7pm) to get a seat. Once they're full, they're full. There's no menu -- they serve you whatever they're cooking that night. Absolutely delicious and dirt cheap. Above, Alex has fresh stuffed pasta and I have pumpkin soup.
Hydration is important, kids.
Woke up the next morning and hit the ground running. Alex wanted to take a pilgrimage to Barolo, home of the namesake Italian wine. On our drive over, we had to pull off to admire the views.
We got to town and passed this place and looked at each other and said decisively, 'Breakfast.'
Breakfast of champions.
All class and grace with my breakfast pizza.
We did some wine shopping in Barolo, too. No dogs in this shop though :/
We drove to the city of LA MORRA, which sits on a hill and has spectacular views down on the entire region, to have lunch at OSTERIA MORE E MACINE -- but they were booked. So we ate up the views and hit the road, grabbing grub from Autogrill instead. No complaints here.
As I'm coming to terms with the fact that Europe is going to be our home for a very, very long time, I'm letting certain old habits and traditions and customs go and embracing new ones. If I can't have Thanksgiving, I will very happily take truffle season in Piemonte. Out with the old, in with the new... See you next year, Whisky.