Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Monferrato, 1: I Mandorli

Cardona di Alfiero Natta, October 27, 2014—

ONE OF THE NUISANCES of maintaining this blog is the problem of dining at the homes of friends — particularly friends who are likely to be reading the blog. Sometimes I take the easy way out and skip the event altogether, but that goes against the weird ethical streak I inherited from the Scottish, presumably Calvinist side of the family. 

Mostly it isn't a problem, because most of our friends turn out to be good cooks. Some, of course, are even professional cooks; and some of them are even great cooks. Others are simply (and I'm worried about that word, but will let it stand) good domestic cooks, who have good palates and a sense of what I call programming and are aware of the simple (that word again) requirements of nutrition, sanitation, and all that.

All this by way of introducing our friend Gabriella, who (with her husband Franco) runs the agriturismo hosting us for two nights. We first came here fourteen years ago — it hardly seems possible — and have got to know one another enough to be invited into their home for dinner, not every night that we're here of course, but just about every time we light in this tranquil, fascinating corner of the world.

Tonight was no exception. We had tried, we thought, to explain that we didn't want her going to any trouble. Perhaps she didn't; perhaps she and Franco always dine like this. In any case, here is what she served:

Fried cheese with radicchio and onion
Sautéed cauliflower with carrots and peppers
Vegetable purée
Roast lamb, beets with onions
Green salad of lettuces and radicchio

and the whole of it was homey, comfortable, copious, and delicious; and we are truly grateful.
For photographs, you'll have to make do with this view from the terrace here — I hate taking photographs of food prepared by friends; it seems intrusive…

Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato, Caresana, 2013: a new grape to me, very old and a specialty of Monferrato — red, light but deep, attractive, distinctive

•I Mandorli, via Troglia 1/3, Cardona di Alfiero Natta, Italy

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