alba & barolo, piemonte, italy - truffles over thanksgiving

You know something I miss a lot from America? (Besides baseball, delicious dirt-cheap ethnic food, football, diversity, and being literate, I mean.) The holidays! Memorial day, when all New Yorkers flock to Central Park to get low-key drunk on champagne and throw frisbees; the fourth of July, when everyone drinks beer very loudly and realizes it is impossible to take a camera phone picture of fireworks; Halloween, when it is basically legally mandated to binge eat candy bought in bulk bags from CVS... We have none of that in Switzerland. They don't even have THANKSGIVING in Switzerland.

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.

La Morra, Piemonte, Italy

Vineyard in autumn, Piemonte, Italy

Agriturismo near Alba, Piedmont, Italy 
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.

Vineyards in autumn near Alba, Piemonte, Italy
I went on an incredibly scenic morning run...

Vineyards in autumn near Alba, Piemonte, Italy
... 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...

Vineyards in autumn near Alba, Piemonte, Italy
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?'

Vineyards in autumn near Alba, Piemonte, Italy
Went for a walk around the grounds...

Vineyards in autumn near Alba, Piemonte, Italy
...led by a very helpful local guide. I love you Whisky.

Vineyards in autumn near Alba, Piemonte, Italy

Vineyards in autumn near Alba, Piemonte, Italy

Vineyards in autumn near Alba, Piemonte, Italy
Best tour guide ever. Whisky will you marry me.

Vineyards in autumn near Alba, Piemonte, Italy

Eventually I got Alex out of bed. He was probably dreaming about our dinner the night before..

Ristorante Le Torri white truffle egg, Piedmont, Italy
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.

Ristorante Le Torri tajarin al tartufo, Piedmont, Italy
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').

Ristorante Le Torri tajarin al tartufo, Piedmont, Italy
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.

Alba, Piedmont, Italy


Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba truffle market, Piemonte, Italy
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.

Alba truffle market, Piemonte, Italy

Alba truffle market, Piemonte, Italy
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.

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

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.

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy


Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy
In New York we had black market street stands selling knock offs of designer purses; in Italy, they sell truffles and mushrooms.

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Sunset over vineyard near Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Dinner at Osteria dei Sognatori, Alba, Italy
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.

Dinner at Osteria dei Sognatori, Alba, Italy
Hydration is important, kids.

Dinner at Osteria dei Sognatori, Alba, Italy
House tiramisu.

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy
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.

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy
We got to town and passed this place and looked at each other and said decisively, 'Breakfast.'

Breakfast of champions.

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy
All class and grace with my breakfast pizza.


Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy
We did some wine shopping in Barolo, too. No dogs in this shop though :/

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

Barolo, Piemonte, Italy

La Morra overlook, Piedmont, Italy
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.


La Morra overlook, Piedmont, Italy

La Morra, Piedmont, Italy

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.

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