Piedmont: Buffalo Cheeses


Another one of the welcome cards I got allowed me to visit the Moris cheese shop in Alba. They specialize in Buffalo cheeses and in this case that means from a domesticated water buffalo. To be honest while I’d heard of buffalo mozzarella before, I’d never quite connected the dots to realize that the true product came from water buffalos in Italy, and hence the name.

It turns out they make a lot of different cheeses from the water buffalo. We tried at least 4 or 5 different cheeses including the mozzarella.

I always like fresh mozzarella but I’d have to say this was particularly fresh and tasty. It had been made that day according to the guy at the counter who was clearly very proud of this cheese. It had an extraordinarily creamy taste to it that I don’t recall from similar cheese back home. This was definitely not a low fat product.

The other cheeses were semi-hard types of cheeses, all with a pretty light, mild flavor. The exception was a buffalo blue cheese that was more sharp, hard and definitely different than something like a Maytag blue. I preferred the semi-hard cheeses – though the mozzarella was the clear fav.

Piedmont: For Nutella Fans

Just a quick side note for any Nutella fans out there. From my top floor vantage point at my B&B stay in Alba, you could easily look to the right and see where tons of Nutella was being made. Granted, I don’t think the American version is made here but this is apparently one of the main manufacturing locations for Nutella and the stuff was invented in Alba. They like their hazelnuts and chocolate here.

Piedmont: Stay 1 – La Terrazza sulle Torri

I’m going to backdate these notes since this was my 1st stay and at this point I’m already on to my 3rd stay of the 2014 Italy trip.

After the preliminary steps of getting to Turin and getting a car, the next step was obviously off to my first place to stay for the duration. I was wiped out and did not have my luggage at this point (did not make the fast connection) so probably not in the best of moods. I was just ready to find my B&B and just chill for awhile.

I could have probably just arranged something in Turin over night on that first day and then headed out into the countryside but I’d much rather be immersed in the culture of a small town (relatively) right away than the big city. At least that’s been my experience on previous trips so I just opted to go directly from the airport to Alba. It only sucked because I didn’t have my luggage and I’d now have to deal with the delivery of that. After getting the car, travel time was somewhere on the order of an hour and a half, give or take.

Nothing remarkable on the drive down to Alba other than it’s all rather nice countryside and as you approach Alba things start to quickly become hilly. But the central part of Alba is not hilly at all.

I fired up the GPS to get me to Alba and the ‘Terrace of the Towers’ better known as La Terrazza sulle Torri.

When I first arrived in town, by at least the GPS’s accounting I was in the right place but for the life of me I couldn’t find the place. I walked up and down the street. Nothing looked remotely like what I might expect to be a B&B. I think it was mostly because I was tired and just missing things. Later I realized there was a sign on the wall of the building that I hadn’t noticed. Ok, so it was at least a little small.

Still though, even if I had found the right door, I had to call Lorenzo because the B&B was on the top floor of what seemed to be an apartment building and the only way in was thru a locked door. In any case, I called Lorenzo and parked on a bench near the traffic circle. 5 minutes later or less there was Lorenzo on his scooter as promised. He walked me over to the bldg and took me to the top floor and checked me in.

The B&B wasn’t fancy but it was just right. It was a great room, that had a nice deck, a comfy bed, and was just a half a block from the core central part of Alba. After a quick freshen-up, I was off to explore Alba – and get something to eat! (And by the way, you can’t go wrong for a quick bite and some wine by the glass at Vincafe in central Alba. Lorezno had recommended it and it was a great first landing spot to get some pasta and a glass of wine.)

Lorenzo and his wife were extremely helpful throughout. They were not living on the premises but he gave me restaurant recommendations immediately and then the next morning was my lifeline to getting my luggage SNAFU worked out. They were there each morning by 9am.

Breakfasts here were a pretty simple affair. They had a bunch of different local foods out and available in the morning. Things like hazelnuts, fruit, yogurt, granola, coffee, milk, juice, fresh bread, jams/marmalades/butter. Was nice just to grab a coffee and head back to the patio deck and get the morning air.

The location made for a nice home base. From this point I made multiple trips (by car) out into the surrounding areas for regional enotecha at Grinzane Cavour and a Barbaresco winery.

Siena & Tuscan Hill Towns

Siena

Stayed one night in Pisa, but just enough to get our bearings and then off to the south and Pienza. Stayed just outside Pienza at rural B&B. Wonderful quiet place named Le Traverse. A short hop into Pienza, a quaint town with interesting restaurants and shops. Pienza is home to Pecorino cheeses. Who knew there were so many types. From Pienza, trips over to Montalcino and Montapulciano, both homes to excellent red wines of the region. Montalcino is home to Brunello and Montapulciano is home to Vino Nobile. Now in Siena. 2nd of two rainy afternoons, but otherwise very nice. Great to just hang out at the very large Il Campo – essentially a very large open plaza area with many cafes. Currently staying just a block off the Il Campo at Palazzo Masi. A bit loud late at night though and quite a lot of traffic on very crowded streets. Pedestrians and cars & trucks share the same roadway. Watch out! Food’s been quite good. Found a great little place last night named La sosta di Violante.

Gatwick – still enroute

Arrived safely in London at Gatwick. The flight was uneventful – which means good. No problems with security at this point but that’s because we’d read about the required bag sizes beforehand. I have a very small carry on – basically a large camera bag – and it went through without any problem. They were checking everyone’s bag very closely, and making most people put their bag in a little box to check its size.

Long layover here in Gatwick, hence the time to get on the internet here and make this post. There are plenty of shops but with hours to kill I’ve pretty much been through them all and I really don’t want to buy anything. Don’t have any place to carry it anyway. Sure hope bikes that have been checked are going to make it through ok. #

The flight to Pisa from here still doesn’t leave for a few more hours. Will probably grab another quick bite beforehand because otherwise it won’t be til tomorrow for anything to eat.

The ‘internet’ room here is located right next to the smoking section – ugh. Hard to breath around here.

Wonderfully sunny day here at Gatwick. With all the time to kill waiting for the connection, would have been nice to get out and explorer a little but dealing with security would have been a hassle so opt’ed not to do that.

Sorry, no pictures to post here yet. The only ones I think will be able to be posted are those through Kem’s phone. She’ll be able to email them directly to this blog. But before that works, someone at her office must set the ‘filter’s correctly. So, perhaps in another few days.

Not that much yet to take pictures of yet anyway, though we’ve managed to snap a few of each other as we start the journey. Will post a complete collection at the conclusion of the trip of course.

For now, it’s off to wander the airport a bit more and get in a little more reading. I have 2 books with me so plenty to keep me occupied. Though I’d rather just people watch some times.

Next stop, Pisa.

Italy 2006

I’ve created this blog to keep track of notes while I travel off to Italy over the next several weeks. We’ll see if or how I’m able to keep it up to date. I’m not taking a computer – by design – but I’m sure I’ll find access at some point and jot a few notes from time to time.

Under the theory that I might do the same in the future for some other travel, I gave this blog a fairly generic but relevant name. It’s actually kind of hard to choose a name that hasn’t already been taken.

Wish me luck on my journeys!