Between Langa and Roero, spring dispenses colorful promises and delicate flavours. The vineyards are embroideries. The cellars pay homage to the proverbial “Easter wines”, ideal companions of artisanal salamis which in the civilization of the tavern represent the traditional welcome at the table.
From the high Langhe come stupendous toma “because – wrote the founding Grand Master Luciano Degiacomi – in spring the Langa sheep provide abundant milk, favored by the fresh pastures: thus the toma that is obtained is buttery.” While the Trattoria Da Lele in Murazzano celebrates the sheep’s toma cheese (Murazzano DOP), the Trattoria della Posta Da Geminio in Olmo Gentile honors the robiola di Roccaverano goat cheese (DOP). The joyful blooms of Roero evoke Botticellian figures. The first asparagus grows on the sunny and sandy slopes that overlook the Tanaro. Then, as the season grows, the vegetable gardens of Bra and Vaccheria will make the pinzimonio richer and more colourful.
From the banks and fortresses herbs and spontaneous shoots arrive on the table for omelettes and soups that tell the suggestions of the territory and the essentiality of traditional peasant cuisine. Violets, nettles, rosèle, sarsèt, stupendous livertìn, the delicate scombòre (morels), enhance the flavors of a land rich in naturalness and gastronomic proposals. But the sublimation of the taste of Langa and Roero in spring is the scombòre and livertìn omelette on Easter Monday. A homemade, private, almost hidden delight, due to the ephemeral presence, the rarity, the preciousness of the scombòre. Its delicacy is enhanced by the starred cuisine of Davide Palluda (Ristorante All’Enoteca di Canale), with an intelligent mix of superfine technique and inspiration from the territory, modernity and rustic freshness. The chef Cavaliere del Tartufo says: “The scombòre are the breath of spring for me. I put them in stewed paper, lightly browned in butter and covered with a creamy sauce of fresh corn and rosemary. In the risotto, in the beautiful embrace with the wild garlic, are my classic.”
It is precisely in this spring-like and early character that the most original contribution given by Roero to Albese cuisine must be identified. A typicality explicitly recognized by Luciano Degiacomi in the menu prepared by the “Belvedere” restaurant in La Morra for the 2nd Chapter of the Order of the Knights of the Truffle and of the Alba Wines (May 12, 1968). In the comments to the menu, commenting on the Aspàrs dei Roeri crunchy in butter, he describes them “from the Roeri, i.e. from the left Tanaro, they grow in those sandy and light soils, suitable for this crop. Cooked correctly, drowned in melted butter… covered of a soft spread of Parmesan cheese”, accompanied by a young sweet that “goes towards suicide because no wine manages to win with asparagus”. Judgment, the latter, that the rediscovery of the cellars of Arneis, Favorita and Nascetta allows to modify.
In the kitchen, time is mythical. While Easter pronounces proverbiality on the agricultural year, the table is reborn in the shades of green and in the sunny yellow of the eggs of a generous henhouse. The agnolotti di magro of the Easter period and the tagliatelle with spring herbs, as well as the chestnut cake, belong to the culture of the spring table. The square raviole of the Vecchia Osteria di Castellino Tanaro are small treasure chests in which Vilma Forneris, as responsible Knight of the Truffle, keeps home-made wisdom elaborated with the wild herbs she collects herself.
Meanwhile, the first tench arrives from Ceresole: their meats, unique in taste and already celebrated by the noble cuisine of the 19th century and by the popular sinoire snacks, bring the flavors of the red earth and are proposed as one of the typical elements of the Roero cuisine.
Finally, here are the first cherries and strawberries. That tradition wants “to wine”. On which wine the founding Grand Master still pronounces: “After all, any wine from the Albese area is suitable for pairing with strawberries; provided it is a wine from the Albese area…”. They enrich the table with notes of color and taste. Almost an advance of summer.
by Maestro Luciano Bertello