Posts Tagged With: Best restaurants in Piedmont

Meal of the Year 2014 – Il Centro in Priocca

Italy 2014 420Top NYC dishes of 2014 are coming up next, but first I have to tell you all about the meal of the year and quite possibly the best meal we ever had.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about…  Its well past 3 pm and we’ve been seating there for three hours, alone now in the back room.  We are starting to feel a bit agitated that we havent received our bill, and we still have yet to get a tour of the magnificent cellar.  Mrs Ziggy is now playing Candy Crush!!  When Mrs Ziggy starts to play Candy Crush on her phone it means things are not going very well, unless she finally beats that crazy difficult level that makes her forget sometimes she has children.  This kind of inconvenience would normally put a big damper on roughly 99% of our meals, but not even a dent in this one.  30 minutes before Candy Crush I was telling young Giampiero (the son) about how much fun we were having and that we did not mind sitting there for such a long time (we really didnt at the time).  He either took my comment a bit too seriously or more likely rightfully shifted his attention to other patrons.  That same attention we were so greatly enjoying the previous 3 hours.

Italy 2014 410I hope any of the Corderos reading this will only see the previous paragraph as the compliment it was intended and nothing more.  Over 10 courses of absolute delight, with each dish and each item on each plate showing brilliance we have yet to witness anywhere.  I vividly remember the lone caramelized fig sitting in the corner of the Veal Cheek dish, like the little shy girl that no one wants to dance with.  That unassuming little thing carried surprising intense flavors, wow moment #8 or so.  The same kind of attention to detail and top notch raw materials followed throughout without any hiccups whatsoever.  A rare (for us) perfect blend of Slow Food and Michelin (1 star).  We are very fortunate to visit places that lean one way or another, but very rarely, perhaps never, we’ve witness this kind of marriage

The room was well lit and simplistic.  Not a whole lot decor wise.  An American couple somehow stole our reservations but they still managed to accommodate us and seat us directly facing that couple.  So we were able to give them the stink eye!  The best way to experience Il Centro fully is for one to go for the tasting menu while the other A la carte.  The tasting menu is basically 3 starters, and one primi, secondi, dolce that you choose from the menu.  On to the food…Italy 2014 404

While I had plenty of steak tartars in my life, this was my first ever Carne Cruda – a Piedmontese specialty of chopped beef, not as finely minced as tartare.  Helped by a shaving of White Truffles (26 euros fixed price) this was a top dish of the trip nominee, and led the way to more Carne Crudas  to come.  For those brainwashed and scared of raw meat, Carne Cruda is perhaps the best way of self hypnosis.

Italy 2014 411Porcini in a Parmigiano cup was another big winner.  The delicate perfectly cooked Porcini went very well with the flavors and crunch of the cheese.  It was like eating Porcini for the very first time.  The attractive Pepper plate stuffed with tuna a bit overshadowed by the other two but would have easily been a hit anywhere else.  Faraona (Guineafowl) was simple yet quite exquisite.  The best compliment I can give to any dish is that it changed the way we order in other restaurants.  Like the Carne Cruda, this Faraona led to three more during the trip

Tajarin with ragu was rich and pleasant.  Not as explosive as La Torre in Cherasco but still quite good.  Ravioli stuffed with beef and topped with sausage and chicken liver ragu was even better.  The liver especially elevated this dish to another level.  Another wow moment came with the veal cheek caramelized with figs. Sweet, deep lasting flavors, and as tender as veal can get.  And the aforementioned little fig in the corner was an eye opener.  Codone beef (top), essentially a hazelnut loving local breed accompanied by a fragrant fruity salad was another revelation.  The secret to happiness is happy cows Italy 2014 415

The best thing I can say about the hazelnut dessert trio on top of the menu is nothing, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise to those who will experience this. It’s like telling you the ending of Breaking Bad.  A must get, along with the gelato

We drank a 2010 Cascina Val Del Prete Nebbiolo d’Alba, a winery based locally in Priocca.  One of the best wines we drank the entire trip which was filled with great Barbarescos and Barolos

A visit to the magnificent cellar was the perfect finish to a most memorable meal.  Bravissima! Italy 2014 400 Italy 2014 405 Italy 2014 407 Italy 2014 413 Italy 2014 419 Italy 2014 421 Italy 2014 422 Italy 2014 424 Italy 2014 425 Italy 2014 427

Church around the corner

Church around the corner

Categories: Italy, Piedmont | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trattoria La Coccinella {Serravalle Langhe} – Game Changer

Trattoria La Coccinella Porcini TowerI’m having a writer’s block of the worst kind.  Earlier this evening I burned some of my more useful fingers on both hands in a freakish oven accident, so the process of typing is hampered a bit.  Lets just say DO NOT USE OVEN MITTS BOUGHT IN PUERTO RICO GIFT SHOPS.  I’m strongly considering unfriending the person who gave it to me on Facebook.  Only problem is I’m not sure exactly who that person is, and I dont have a Facebook account.  It hurts almost as much as listening to Ariana Grande in the car, a condition that millions of dads these days are suffering from at the moment.  Why would anyone buy cheap oven mitts anyway.  Oven mitts got only one job really when you think about it.  Like the hideous looking car bumper protectors you see on the roads used to protect and preserve bumpers from scratches, purchased by the same people who can no longer wrap their remote controls in plastic due to public pressure.  One job:  PROTECT YOUR HANDS FROM SECOND DEGREE BURNS.  Failed!

Trattoria La CoccinellaThis is extremely unfair of me to write about my damaged precious fingers in a post about one of our favorite, most talked about meals in recent memory.  But I’m also using the blog in a way as a diary in case I’ll have to write a book at some point.  I was told that that is the next step for a successful food blogger.  The only minor hurdle is the “Successful” part, and learning how to write properly.  Or spell!

La Coccinella was particularly memorable in many ways.  Starting from the spectacular drive to Serravalle Langhe from Barolo where at some point the sudden silence from Mrs Z meant that she wanted me to concentrate on the road and not look at all the beauty surrounding us.  I remember clearly the majestic Lady of the Snow church in Monforte D’alba that we found on the way.  The Israeli couple we met in the parking lot of the restaurant.  The drive to Serralunga d’Alba after the meal that made me want to go to the bathroom, partly out of fear but mostly just because I needed to go to the bathroom.  But most of all it was the meal and the hosts, the three stooges, Alessandro, Massimo and Tiziano, who dished out one magical plate after another.  The anticipation, and a quick glance at the menu meant cancelling all post meals appointments.  We are staying for another marathon.

Trattoria La Coccinella RavioloneTrattoria La Coccinella Carne CrudaI opted for the truffle menu. Three dishes shaved with white truffles resting comfortably on the table.  Carne Cruda, while quite exceptional, I couldnt help but compare it to the artistry in Priocca the day before which was one of the top dishes of the trip.  A lone Raviolone stuffed with potato and egg, oozing with greatness.  At this point I realize this is perhaps the most flavorful truffles of the trip.  The truffle finale was the outstanding egg with Bra cheese fondue.  Truffles and eggs – could not get enough of them during the trip

The menu also features antipasti with the option of trying all of them.  Guess what option we chose.  Salmon, shrimp and cheese ball set the tone nicely.  A lovely Porcini tart followed.  When Mrs Ziggy eats anything with mushrooms that means you just did something special.  Perhaps the most interesting thing we ate here came in the form of an onion.  Upon arrival, the first signal from the brain is that there’s no conceivable way this thing tastes good.  Its an onion!  An onion that is baked with salt then filled with chicken liver, baked some more, sprinkled by some more salt and Voila!  One of the most unique and delicious dishes of the trip.  Lastly an outstanding veal terrine with a supporting cast that would make Woody Allen envious:  An onion marmalade and a veggie tart.

Trattoria La Coccinella Egg cheese fondue

Mrs Z was also especially taken by the Plin stuffed with cheese.  Surprising big flavors coming out of these unassuming little things.  The leaning tower of Porcini with potato was nice and meaty, though could have used a touch more seasoning.  Hazelnut/chocolate cake was the perfect finish to a very enjoyable meal.  One of a handful marathon meals we did during this trip, and one I would love to repeat.  I can not recommend this one more highly.  Well, judging by the start of this post I guess I could but choose not to.

Trattoria La Coccinella

Via Provinciale A3, 5, 12050 Serravalle Langhe CN

Italy 2014 573

Trattoria La Coccinella veal terrine Trattoria La Coccinella Salmon, Shrimp ball Trattoria La Coccinella Plin Trattoria La Coccinella Hazelnut chocolate cake Trattoria La Coccinella porcini tart Trattoria La Coccinella inside

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