A Michelin Star Day in Italy

It would have been fun to post a What I Ate Wednesday from Italy…

 

My first in-person pomegranate tree!

 

… but I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write when there was so much to explore.

So today, 2 weeks later, I bring you: What I Ate on a Wednesday in Italy.

 _______________________________________________________________________________________

Breakfast:

Typical European tourist fare consists of pastries, cheese, and cured meats.  The novelty wears off after 1-2 days.

At least we know the Nutella is fresh!

Cheese selection (thankfully no stinky cheese!)

Breakfast of champions

 

That Robiola Rocchetta cheese was pretty amazing.  It is native to the Piedmont region and would be fantastic with the local Barolo wine.  It is a layered, creamy cheese made from goat’s, cow’s, and sheep’s milk.  It’s structure is reminiscent of a brie – pliable rind with a dense, semi-soft texture inside.

 

FYI - this is what you get if you order a latte in Italy:

Cup of hot milk

 

Lunch:

Most days this consisted of more cured meat and cheese with bread sticks… served at a wine tasting. :)

I should have my cholesterol checked

Snack:

We had a mandatory daily snack of gelato.

Like a kid in a candy shop…

Dinner:

My favorite meal of the trip was at Il Cascinalenuovo, and Michelin star restaurant just outside of Asti.  The restaurant is part of a family-run B&B.  We were lucky to have a tour of the kitchen with Chef Walter.

Upon arrival we were greeted by Walter’s niece, Alice.  Alice was so much fun to talk to and hosted us all evening.  Her father is the front of house and wine expert in the restaurant.

Alice with her father

 

Chef sat with us for quite sometime, asking about our backgrounds and telling us about his inspirations.  He admitted to being surprised that we are “young and skinny.”

He was expecting “fat old ladies.”  Direct quote – I can’t make this stuff up.

Me, Chef Walter, and Corinne

 

He told us the story of when he was invited to California to cook for a United Nations event where he worked alongside greats as Wolfgang Puck.  Puck introduced him to Asian-fuision and inspired one of the dishes we would be eating.  I love hearing the stories behind techniques and dishes.

 

The kitchen was having dinner when we arrived, so Alice showed us to the pool patio for aperitifs.

Sparkling wine, tripe, toast with fig jam and Rocchetta, salami balls, and mini-pizzas

 

Walter came out again to give us a kitchen tour.  He thoughtfully explained each station and process.  Chef Walter is a big fan of preparing meats sous vide.

Sous vide is a French technique developed for modern cooking in the 70′s by Dr. Bruno Goussalt, and later his company, Cuisine Solutions. The process works by having food vacuum sealed in plastic bags and placed in water to cook. The water is kept at a steady temperature, allowing items to cook evenly and making them virtually impossible to  over cook.

 

We were even able to stand in the back to watch the first order being coordinated!

The kitchen was quite tolerant of our paparazzi-like behavior.

 

We sat down for dinner an elected to let Chef Walter surprise us rather than ordering off the menu.

We do know how to order well!

La tavola (the table)

 

This turned out to be the best meal of the trip.

The starter alone was mind-blowing: a perfectly silky pumpkin soup with Parmesan gelato.

 

Followed by the dish inspired by Wolfgang Puck: Sesame-encrusted Amberjack fish with julienned fresh vegetables, wasabi, and passion fruit sauce.

 

Next was Chef Walter’s signature dish, created in 1987.  It has become his signature dish.  Normally we’d be leery of the ingredients, but this was on a whole new plateau of deliciousness.  Corinne nearly licked her plate.  

Veal tongue and foie gras millefoglie with port wine jelly and balsamic reduction 

 

Check out this wine glass – the bubble ring makes it perfect to swirling/smelling.

I’m on a mission of find a set for myself!

This texture combination in the next dish was divine: quail egg, duck carpaccio, marinated porcini mushrooms served atop a bed of butter lettuce.

Last was the region’s Tajarin pasta (homemade) served with porcini and finfirli’s mushrooms

Did I say last?!  I meant last dish before dessert.  2 girls = 3 desserts.

Chef Walter clearly knows the way to my heart.  He even made one with almond milk!!!

Pineapple carpaccio, ricotta with candied orange, and strawberries

Almond milk “panna cotta” with pistachios and candied nuts

I can’t begin to name all of this… truffles, macaroons, chocolate-covered gooseberries… it was sheer bliss

 

Thank god we had a driver because a food coma immediately ensued.

Thank you, Ferretto family, for an evening we’ll never forget!

***

I still swoon just thinking of this meal.

Have you ever had a meal so good it brought tears to your eyes?

Do you carefully plan your restaurant strategy when you travel?  Or do you think I’m crazy?

 

Comments

  1. says

    Loved this post Laura, how lucky were you to go into the kitchen and taste that amazing food, perhaps sans veal tongue and foie gras – although I did think it would work in a cone! Me = going cone-crazy. The rest looked amazing!

  2. says

    Oh, lady, what an amazing experience! I must admit its the almond milk dessert with pistachios that truly makes me want to lick the screen though :P

    • Laura says

      I think I did when I first got back. It was one of my favorites from the whole 2 weeks! (And it was amazingly delicious.) :)

  3. says

    Wow wow… pumpkin soup w/ parmesan gelato sounds so good!
    I think a schedule is the better way to go! That way you don’t spend any time “wasting” time if you know what I mean.
    Funny that a latte is a cup of milk =) Makes sense though!

  4. says

    You are absolutely not crazy. Eating is part of immersing oneself in the culture, I think. I think the best vacation I have ever had was with my husband and another couple– we went to Savannah simply to eat, drink and bull$hit (and take some pics, too). Everything looks fantastic from your trip– and those wine glasses are to die for!

  5. says

    What an utterly fantastic experience! What a great meal—glad you took pics for us all to live vicariously through your travels and eating expeditions!

  6. says

    This wins my best WIAW award EVER! This is very prestigious. Honestly, hundreds have vied for it. OK, that’s not true, but still. Look at all this amazing stuff. The latte made me laugh. All that gelato and cheese. Heaven.

  7. says

    I’ve just been catching up on your blog and I super love it :)… we share lots of the same experiences (and outlook. healthy + wine lovin = me!!!). I also recently did a post on alcohol and drinking and whether its healthy which I would love love if you read (sorry, Im obsessed with the post and am always trying to sell it to EVERYONE…)
    ANYWAYS – we also just got back from a trip to Italy -alhtouhg we went to stay on an organic farm whcih was amazing. Loads of fresh produce on the farm, but I agree not much everywhere else. And the food in cafe was awful (although restaurants were amazing and loads cheaper than the UK!). AND i had the worst gelato of my life – BUT the best fro yo of my life! How does that work!? We are also totally plannig a return trip. Like NOW. xox

    • Laura says

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m going to have to check out your Italian travels. Isn’t it so hard to come home?! :)

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