Sunday, November 2, 2014

Monferrato, 3: Twice

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Via Troglie 1, October 31, 2014—
THE NAME OF THE PLACE sounds like the English word "twice" and has no other meaning that I know of in either Italian or Piemontese. And we have eaten here at least twice before; most recently exactly six years ago. The place has always seemed curious to me, the labor of a single person, a lean, intellectual, not particularly affable fellow who cooks, waits on tables, answers the telephone, and as far as I know cleans up. The dining room is big and comfortable and I have never seen more than eight or ten diners in it — tonight we and our friends made four, and were seated next to the only other diners, a couple, presumably local, in their sixties, I'd say.

We all began with amuse-bouches, in fact a complete appetizer dish: a slice of good bread from two kinds of dough; a nice little piece of fresh goat cheese, and a spoonful of pomegranate mostarda. Then came the tris or trio of appetizers: upper right, caulifower fonduta with Castelmagno; lower right, carne cruda with shaved parmesan; lower left, a quail egg in a hollowed-out piece of toasted bread. Center, shreds of carrot and leek. Quite a nice course — perhaps the best of the evening.

Next, gnocchi, again with Castelmagno, which I never mind eating twice in a meal, particularly when it is as exactly right as it was tonight. A white rather grainy cheese that goes blue, it becomes soft and limpid when heated, making it very versatile. Unfortunately it goes bad with age or poor treatment (or both), and doesn't ship very well I think — best to grab it whenever you can when it's in good condition!

IMG 6544 2I went on to a brasato, nicely done but not special; and then for dessert another bonet, this one disguised as chocolate cake. Well, why not? If Castelmagno is versatile, bonet has been, on this trip, positively unpredictable. Chocolate and hazelnuts are the only constants. This one had the requisite amaretti in the mix, somehow, probably ground to dust and used to help bind the thing. And around it a generous dusting of powdered sugar, and a thin but pleasant floor of pastry cream…

Chardonnay/Cortese, unlabeled, clean and fresh; Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese, Cavinato, 2013 (not exceptional but pleasant); Barbera di Monferrato, 2010: very good
•Tuais, Via Pessine 29, Odalengo Piccolo (AL); +39 0141 919196


Joan said...

After some Google research the only reference I could find regarding the origin of the name Tuais was in a fantastic little blog called
The Eastside View :)

The entry from November 6, 2006 includes "We congratulated Franco and went back to our rooms for a rest; then on to the evening’s restaurant, Tuais — so called, I’ve been told, because it’s not the first restaurant its owner has opened."

Charles Shere said...

Brava, Joan. I suppose I could have found it, but I didn't. Jeez, eight years ago! And some of the comments are exactly those I've been mulling over for the past week, since we left this year's Salone…