The other night I had a great meal at Trattoria dell’ Alba in Vho di Piadena (Cremona). I dined with the FOH manager and his wife, as well as two ‘cameriere’ from Al Vedel.
This Trattoria is much more like the true Osteria. One waiter, who knows everything about the restaurant (he happened to also be the owner) and its food/wine arrived at our table. The menu was announced and our order was placed.
The antipasto was a table-wide variety of salumi with the addition of house made baby onions in vinegar, marinated artichokes, insalata russo and crispy polenta squares.
The antipasti were enjoyed with a bottle of Bellavista Franciacorta Gran Cuvee ’99.
The second wine, our first red, was ordered. We decided to start with a Tuscan Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc blend. The wine, Fidenzio, by Podere San Luigi, was a ‘99 vintage and drank wonderfully. After I a few minutes, it warmed up in the glass and was very nice and rich with a balanced tannic presence – I liked this wine very much.
The primi arrived at the table. I enjoyed fresh tagliatelle with a tomato sauce (thin) and grated bagos, a dry, aged, cheese (DOP) from Bagolino, near Lago di Garda. Others enjoyed tortelli di zucca; tortelli di erbette; a vegetable soup with lentils and artichokes.
The third wine was ordered. It took a while to decide which way to go on this choice because the two waiters who joined me argued and ‘threw out’ all the wine knowledge they knew, which was quite a lot, into the decision process. We decided on a bottle of Kurni – 1998. Kurni comes from the Marche region but from what I understood at dinner, it is made from the Montepulciano grape. It is produced by Oasi degli Angeli. At first site (the wet cork) I thought the bottle was bad. The cork had mold over the top and was very wet. The wine was tasted and needed confirmation from Marco, the FOH manager, because it had a bit of a ‘puzza’ (off scent). After Marco spoke with the owner/waiter/sommelier, and told him about the Al Vedel experiences with Kurni, and his own, the bottle was poured – just a taste – then decanted.
On first smell, I thought the wine was bad – it smelt of mold and stinky stuff – at first taste it had a bit of a re-fermented feel to it. A bit of effervescence, or something like effervescence was felt on the tongue. After about ten minutes, the wine was great – the stench floated away and was replaced by much greater, more characteristic tones.
For the main course I had fish from a nearby river (nearby??). It was served on the colder side – accompanied by a salsa verde and a salsa with bottarga – interesting. Others had ‘oca’ or goose, prepared the classic way, braised “confit”(…right!!) or salt cod topped with potatoes and roasted in the oven (best dish of the night).
The last wine was the best wine. A truly new experience for me was enjoying the last wine almost like our dessert. We enjoyed a ’93 L’ Apparita (Merlot) from Castello di Ama (Toscano). This wine was very, very good.
All in all, a fun evening with lots of wine, good food and new friends.