Trattoria della Posta, Monforte d’Alba - Piemontese food at its simple best
Of all the meals we had on my 3 day visit to Piemonte this week Trattoria della Posta was the best. It’s not that the food was different (Piemontese cuisine has a limited repertoire), simply that it was perfectly executed.
There were white truffles (of course) but particularly fragrant ones scattered abundantly over a carne cruda (chopped raw veal) and the best fonduta I’ve ever tasted.
It’s a feature of carne cruda that the meat should be so good you don’t need to season it and the chef had simply put little piles of seasoning on the side for you to add to taste: some grain mustard, black pepper, pink Himalayan salt (maybe the only affectation in the meal) and grated Castelmagno, the powerful local cheese. It was great with the rich 2008 Gaja Gaia & Rey chardonnay our host Giacomo Conterno had chosen (It seems to be a convention here that you don’t drink your own wines at a meal but show off others from the region. I like that.)
The fonduta (Piedmont’s answer to the fondue) was light-as-air due apparently to using a cheese from Bra rather than the usual Fontina. It came topped with a vivid yellow egg yolk and more truffle shavings which we were urged to stir into the gooey mass. Definitely a dish to try before you die and now on my menu for my last supper.
We then switched away from truffles to tajarin (the local super-fine egg noodles) with a rich ragu, another local speciality which matched perfectly with an earthy 2009 Barbera d’Alba Codamonte from Giuseppe Mascarello, Sensible not to overdo the truffles at this point and to have a contrast of flavours, colours and textures.
The main course was a real surprise: quail stuffed with the deeply savoury piquant Bra sausage - an object lesson in preparing quail which is often cooked too quickly and therefore tough. The crispy umami-rich legs were as good as the stuffing, great foil for a magnificent 2007 Bruno Giacosoa Barbaresco Asile which was just beginning to hit its stride.
We (or rather I) didn’t really need desserts and to be honest they didn’t reach the heights of the preceding courses though I can recommend the fabulously wobbly, creamy pannacotta and a semi-freddo with an intriguing coffee and pistachio ice-cream on the side. Accompanied by a very good moscato but I can’t remember whose.
The restaurant is charmingly old-fashioned and for what it offers not expensive. There’s a set lunch for 40€ but even eating off the carta is affordable and the wines - amazingly - cheaper than you’d find them retail in the UK .
According to David Gleave of Liberty Wines who was taking us around he’d never had a better meal there but even if it was 25% less good I’d still recommend it. Go, preferably in truffle time.
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