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MANGO (Moscato wine centre)


Una giornata sensa turisti



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Day three in Piemonte and notwithstanding the low cloud cover, the Dom took to the hills south of Alba - another outstandingly beautiful area if one could only see further than 50m from the ridge roads.


The strangely named townlet of Mango is the hub of the Moscato grape area, and at the Enoteca Regionale di Mango Paradox, the only visitor for the day it seemed, met up with Beppe Borello (above) who sold him a bottle of Moscato, then kindly allowed  the Nikon to click away at another interesting and expensive bottle he had spotted ....



.... it's a bottle of grappa made by the Distilleria di  Romano Levi in nearby Neive.  Each label is (or was) painted by Levi - though he must  now be well over 80 if he is still with us.  ON ON ....


"You ain't seen nothing yet" says Beppe (in Italian), and guides the photographer Dom over to some bottles of GAJA Barbaresco wine.   Holy whatsit ... 157 each ... "e vero"  says Beppe again  "that's the closest you're ever likely to get to that stuff".  At which point Paradox's memory flashed back to the time in 2000 when he, Fra Gregory and the Rev G Jones had managed to consume three of these (Fra Gregory now swears it was five) in a restaurant in Castellina in Chianti whilst intensely discussing spiritual matters and before discovering how much they cost.  For several years afterwards they were spoken of in awe by the restaurant's owners.  How to explain this in Italian to Beppe (who would clearly have enjoyed the tale) - too difficult, the Dom decided with regret. 



Actually Beppe was probably referring to the Fattoria GAJA at via Torino 18, Barbaresco (every town in S Piemonte has a Via Torino and a Via Cavour - the first Prime Minister of the newly unified Italy, who came from these parts) which resembles a high security prison and has a notice saying they don't do sales or visits.  Such is the power of the GAJA name that it is not uncommon to see foodie groups form up outside the drab locked gates to have their pilgrimage group photo taken standing by the GAJA nameplate.  Just back down the road is the Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco which does do sales and also has an interesting book section.

Back in Mango, it's time for a little pranzo, and out of nowhere a friend of Beppi's materialized just like that to say that he had a little ristorante that did a mean little pranzo, and here's how to get to it ....



It is unlikely that any other Australian (or possibly any other tourist or Italian living outside Mango) has ever set foot in the Trattoria del Campo (in this case campo sportivo - sports area) - it's at the end of a long unpromising and unsigned cul-de-sac  - and, when you eventually find the entrance, it's full of Italians having lunch.  The Dom knew that it was only a short time before the sun would also be shining, however briefly .....


There is a routine with strangers invading these very local Italian places - you are ignored.   Then after a probationary standing period you are directed to a table in the middle - "I'd prefer the table on the wall away from the (loud) TV" you indicate - but to no avail (unless you are obstinate in which case you can forget any further interaction) - go with the flow. 


The wide roll of paper comes out and is cut to the width of the table and clipped on.  Don't even think about the words menu or English, it's Italian negotiations from now on.   In this case the pasta was a delicious thin home made tagliatelle con ragu, and afterwards the Dom did manage to get a plate of local cheeses instead of meat (it's easy to get meated out in Alba) - plus of course a large jug of (good) red wine and bottled water - all good and all for about 10.


There is an uplifting buzz about being amongst Italians doing what they enjoy most - eating multiple courses of food and talking and laughing.  The atmosphere in these places is simply completely different to the ones that have been invaded by foreigners!  So the Dom is not going to divulge which cul-de-sac the place is in, and he was certainly not about to pull the Nikon out !!


A French number plate at the Trattoria del Campo (Mango)


This photo gives some idea of the richness and dramatic beauty of the steep hills around Mango and elsewhere in the Langhe, but the sun is not quite shining yet so we have extended the hotel booking for a couple of days, because we know it's going to happen soon (LINK) ! 







Meantime Paradox, by now on a roll, has cracked another distinctively Italian eating joint in (Alba) town ..... it's called PIOLA and, oddly, it's in the prime position in the Piazza in front of the Alba's ho-hum Duomo.  Oddly because you don't normally find a fun buzzy locally patronized Italian eatery in this sort of (tourist) location, but fun and a good eatery (and winery) it is.  In fact Paradox eventually went there three nights running - almost unheard of for him and a compliment to both the place and to Sara, the delightful late twenties lady who conducts front of house and its staff with flair and a lot of friendly energy.  Once again no photos we're afraid - it seems inappropriate to poke a camera around in such busy non-tourist places.  Tourist diners are herded into a separate higher priced enclosed wood and glass structure out in the square, leaving the main  space for Italians and the Dom.  Piola (and indeed most of Alba) is closed on Mondays. 


2007 Footnote:  Sadly we discovered on our return visit a year later (2007) that Sara had gone and Piola's fun time in the sun was definitely over! 


2013 Footnote:  Seems to be still going, and above it  .....


"Piazza Duomo" - is No 41 in the 2013 World's Best Restaurant list


Recommended standout dish:   Turnip tops, scallops and sea urchins   (a Sicilian / Galician combo?!)


  • Piazza Risorgimento 4
    12051 Alba
    +39 0173 366 167



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