March 8

Cooking with friends

Torres Viña Sol Catalunya 08

This white wine made from the Parellada grape is a big yes - so fragrant and lovely and lively.

For much less than $10 a bottle, it’s a wonder that this wine makes any profit at all. But I won’t go on record for ever questioning the Torres empire.

Fontanafredda Barolo 04

Food-friendly, but not necessarily priced at a food-friendly rate. If I had this bottle every time I cooked at home, it’d be Kraft dinners and wieners from now on. Of course, at the price it sells, it is still the cheapest of the cheap Barolos.

For lovers of Pinot. Pale looking, with a slight whiff redolent of undergrowth and spice. Like most Nebbiolo I’ve had, it nurtures your meal over the long haul — it’s medium-bodied, with arcs of acid and it’s got some umami to it. I really do think umami when I taste Nebbiolo, though it’s a term used for food, and used inconsistently at that (because there is still a lot of disagreement about how to best translate the Japanese word). Perhaps the best wine tasting term to convey what I mean is complexity. And maybe complex is in the running for what umami really means.

Autumn vineyard on Flickr.

Tramite Flickr:
Alba - Italy.
The Langhe is a hilly area to the south and east of the river Tanaro in the province of Cuneo in Piedmont, northern Italy.
It is famous for its wines, cheeses, and truffles—particularly the white truffles of Alba.
© 2013 Chiara Salvadori | |


I would not define myself as a pescatarian, although, I almost always avoid eating meat. I’m not a fan of it, however when I find myself sitting at my grandparent’s table at the countryside in Altavilla Monferrato I become the perfect carnivore. My grandad Carlo is the best meat chef in the world: he cooks soft agnolotti del plin, slow cooked tender and juicy roasted meat, extremely fresh meat tartare with celery and grated Parmesan cheese and many other tasty dishes. Each time I come to his house during weekends I automatically gain one or two kilos! This week end we celebrated my first week at my new job- yes, I moved back to Milan working for a French champagne company woop woop, new life!- and went to Guido restaurant in Serralunga d’Alba, Piedmont.

Chef Ugo Alciati and his brother Piero, a highly skilled restaurant manager, moved their restaurant from Pollenzo- the home of the University of Gastronomic - to Villa Contessa Rosa, within the land of the Fontanafredda winery estate.

Expect a stunning lake, white swans and a lot of fresh air. The renewed villa of the king Vittorio Emanuele II features frescoed ceilings, elegant pale gray walls, and incredibly comfortable Eero Sarinen chairs. The impressive chandelier in the old ballroom says it all: antiques perfectly blend with modern objects of design, elements of traditional regional cuisine dictate what should be a modern healthy way of dining.

Forget about the freezer, because at Guido it does not exsist! The philosophy of the restaurant follows the Slow Food motto good, clean and fair: only using top high quality Italia products, km0 when possible, fresh and seasonal. It was priceless seeing my grandfather delightment when tasting the 8hour slow cooked roasted meat, the arrosto,  saying that it reminded him of the cuisine of 50 years ago, simple and perfect. We started our gourmet journey with a vitello tonnato, tender slices of hand cut veal with tuna and caper sauce. I could not believe myself when I ate my first pepper and actually loved it! Piero brought us a stuffed yellow pepper from the area, it was so tasty I could not resist. Bring it on!

The traditional menu was interrupted by a little surprise: agnolotti al tovagliolo, agnolotti served in a white napkin, without sauce, just eated with your hands for fun. Chef Ugo kept bringing out flavors and perfumes of his land, memories of his mother cooking regional delicacies.

After a creamy broth with black summer truffles I smiled: the best thing was I felt home, I could recognize every single ingredient that was entering my curious mouth. My cousin Emma ate the agnolotti del plin in two seconds, and even stole others from our plates… I was indignant!


The arrosto was exactly how I expected it to be: I was already used to my grandfather’s one, so juicy and meaty, but this one was heavenly. The meat cooked slowly for eight hours, with only a little bit of salt and pepper. This is the new way of cooking: gathering the best ingredients your territory can offer and exalting the taste of tradition.

We are so used to eat all fruits, vegetables, meat and fishes every month without caring of seasonality. As my friend Oscar Farinetti once said to me, “make sure you remember that the only thing that you put into your body is not a fancy car, an expensive bag or jewelry, it’s food, and you need to be conscious of which kind of food you eat. Respect yourself, eat less but better”.