You might wonder how an American, originally from California, became such a Langhe enthusiast. I credit my dad, Harvey, with exposing me to the area. My dad was a foodie long before the term existed and it was trendy to plan a whole vacation around eating and drinking. My dad would happily drive two hours to a restaurant to have lunch and of my siblings, I most certainly was the child that embraced his passion for food and so we made a great traveling duo. Since he was convinced he was Italian in his previous life, luckily for me there were many trips to Italy. Our trips were mainly to Tuscany and Liguria to visit the Italian friends he collected over the 40 years he had been coming to Italy.
Therefore, back in the winter of 1998, when my dad called and suggested we meet in Turin (I was living in London at the time), I happily accepted his invitation. The sommelier at his favorite restaurant in the Alsace had recommend he visit the Langhe, and in particular meet Elio Altare a winemaker from La Morra.
Our visit was in February and the Langhe hills were dusted with snow. It was stunning, even though it was winter. I remember being amazed how every scrap of land was dedicated to growing grapes, right down to the edge of the roads that wound through the hills. Also I remember how different the food was from Tuscany and Liguria. The Langhe pasta dishes like Ravioli di Plin were much lighter and melted in my mouth. It was exciting to experience a new Italian regional cooking. To me, it seemed more refined and yet simpler than other Italian regional food I had enjoyed and I loved it!
I would come to learn that the use of locally sourced produce, cheese and livestock resulted in a concise menu of regional delicacies..and that is just the food. For all you wine lovers, you will already knows that during the late 90s, the vintners in the region were producing some outstanding vintages to accompany the earthly flavors of the regional cooking.
My best memory of that trip was sitting in the dining room of Trattoria Della Posta, when it was still in the center of Monforte dAlba and you had to walk through the kitchen to get to the dining room. My dad and I were invited by Mr. Altare to join him and a few of his wine making buddies for lunch. Of course my dad thought my 5 months of Italian from when I lived in Florence 8 years earlier qualified me as a translator. Luckily, Mr. Altare brought along his daughter Sylvia whose English was thankfully better than my Italian. I remember watching the vintners swirl their wine glasses of deep garnet colored Barolo and speak about the issues that had affected the years harvest. It was a very special experience to witness the pride and enthusiasm these men shared in their technique and traditions.
That trip to the Langhe in 1998 was one of four that I shared with my dad before he died in 2000. I made many trips back to the Langhe after my dads death, and each time I was overwhelmed by a sense of being home. In 2005 I bought TorreBarolo, an 18th century tower in the center of Barolo. No matter how many times I stay here, no matter what the season, I am always overwhelmed by the incredible natural beauty of the Langhe. This combined with my love of the regional cooking and wine has turned me into a qualified Langhe nut.
When I bought TorreBarolo, I never thought I would rent it out, but as life has it, I am not able to spend as much time in the area as I had hoped. The tower provides a unique setting to experience all that the Langhe has to offer and in renting it out, it is my way now to share my love and passion for the area with as many visitors as possible. Please don't hesitate to contact me for any recommendation and see the Blog for my latest discoveries.