Maude Takes a Modern Twist on Piedmont, Italy

As Maude journeyed to a new wine region in the world for the fourth quarter of 2018, they landed in Piedmont, Italy. The most prestigious wine region in Italy, Piedmont, which means “foot of the mountains”, is between the Ligurian coast and the Alps in northwest Italy. Home to Nebbiolo and Barbera, as well as hazelnuts, cheese, chocolate and Alba white truffles, we were in for a treat.

I spent six months living in Piedmont, in the town of Vercelli, the riso (rice) capital of Italy. I was not knowledgeable about wine at the time, nor would I have called myself a foodie. But, I was introduced to the wines and many of the classic dishes and Maude’s Piedmont menu was a twist on these memorable dishes.  

As we were seated at our table, like a classic Italian restaurant, a basket of bread-sticks lay in the middle. These long, crispy bread-sticks were perfectly salty and crunchy and it was hard to stop eating them.

We ordered a white wine to start the evening. Instead of a Champagne, as we typically order, we had the La Colombera Il Montino Colli Tortonesi Timorasso, an intense full-bodied wine.

Bagna Cauda is a warm dish of garlic and anchovy that dates to the 16th century. This bagna cauda was rich and creamy and once we finished dipping the raw vegetables, we drank what was left like a soup and then licked up every last drop.

Bacalao is a classic dish found in Piedmont, as well as Spain and Portugal. The cod was mixed with parsley and garlic and covered by a translucent veil.

The treat of dining with my friends at Maude is the wines that they bring. That was no exception for this meal as we started with the Berteletti 1964 Gattinara that still had acidity and a brambly, earthy taste.

Our dinner was just getting started but no time was wasted in bringing out the white truffles. They were shaved on top of delicate little Agnolotti with Rocchetta Cheese.

There is no aperitivi or meal you will attend in Piedmont and not have vitello tonnato. Typically, the veal is thinly shaved and topped with a tuna caper sauce. Maude created a modern, and creative take on Vitello Tonnato with veal panna cotta topped with slices of raw tuna.

The aged Barolo was next poured – Agricola Giuseppe 1964 Barolo and Fratelli Anselma 1967 Barolo. Considering the age of the wines, the intensity of their color and flavor was impressive.

Tajarin is a thin, rich pasta that is a bright yellow color. Here the Tajarin was prepared with cubes of bresaola and topped with a crispy sage leaf. We wanted this dish to be triple the size and I found myself trying to eat one delicate noodle at a time in order to make the dish last longer.

One of the best parts of the Maude Piedmont menu is that there was not one, not two but three pasta dishes. Our third pasta was a large Ravioli with Braised Veal and topped with shaved black truffles.

A we moved to our meat course, we enjoyed two more Barolos from Borgogno –  Borgogno 2008 Riserva Barolo and the single vineyard Borgogno Liste 2008 Barolo.

The meat course was Finanziera, a very old traditional plate of Piedmont dating back to the eighteenth century. Traditionally it is made with the cockscomb and wattle of the hen, chicken livers, veal innards, veal testicles, veal veins, beef filets, veal brains and porcini mushrooms. When I lived in Piedmont, I learned that the Piemontese like to eat a lot of offal and I managed to avoid that by claiming I was a vegetarian when it was convenient. But, the Maude Finanziera was a more palatable, and quite delicious, offering of veal, foie gras, sweetbread and mushrooms.

The cheese course was the Occelli al Barolo, a cow’s milk cheese aged for several months and then finished in marc enriched with Barolo Wine DOCG. The grape must still remained on the outside of the rich, creamy cheese with a pronounced bite.

We were escorted upstairs for dessert where we enjoyed Panna Cotta with orange, persimmon and honeycomb.

Since we did not start the meal with Champagne, we decided to end it with a bottle of Pierre Gimonnet 2010 Special Club Champagne.

Winter in Italy means rich, thick hot chocolate. Our meal came to an end with Hot Chocolate topped with a Fernet Branca marshmallow.

And a plate of Petit Fours of cookies and cake.

We went home satiated and with a jar of chocolate to make our own hot chocolate at home.

Maude’s journey to Piedmont was another successful wine region themed dinner. Next up….Western Australia (January – March 2019)