The time has come for us to part ways like grapes from a vine at harvest time. It is Italy via train for the Jarvies. Lyon and a night at Paul Bocuse for the Northside Crew via Philippe Le Bon et son bus volant. And me? I’m off to Roddi, a small pocket in the very north of Barolo.
Who was more excited?
Impossible to tell. Our trip to Lyon saw everyone in high spirits. And I learnt everything I thought I needed to know to be a proper Italian.
It’s a long drive from Lyon to Barolo. Spectacular to see the land and mountains unfold. Snow, fog, cloud, tunnels. French police wondering why one man was driving a 9 seater van. Green fields, old castles, vineyards, terraced fields, pure water from snow melts.
Then BANG! I’m in Italy.
I can tell because the driving is ferocious, the signs are all in Italian (which is quite difficult since I had just got my head around French signs) and the roads are more like Melbourne. But the biggest difference I saw was we went from manicured decay in Burgundy to dereliction in Italy. Oh, and every car I passed was a Fiat.
The weather set in and the rain was quite distracting. But eventually I found Roddi. One hour late and feeling in need of a good sleep. But alas I couldn’t find my accommodation. I asked a local girl who seemed concerned for me but wary of me at the same time. Then I asked the local music bar and he pointed me to
where I was standing. Finally my host Mario arrived and let me in. What a beautiful place it was. Cafetiere, WIFI, lovely bed. Having been pointed to the two nearest places for dinner he was off. The local dogs sure love to bark but the rest of the place was unmissable.
Even in towns with no one around, the restaurants don’t open until 8pm… if at all. So choice one (without the walk down the steep hill) did not come to fruition.
But La Crota was open at 8pm. And in my finest google translate Italian that I’d practiced on down the hill walk, I got a table for one. In the end I asked “Parla English?”. Thankfully my waitress was Russian, living in Barolo and had visited Sydney a long time ago. She was great. Her English was terrible, but I don’t speak Italian and Russian so I was grateful.
She treated me to a starter that was big enough for the whole meal. A fried egg with mushrooms in a filo type pastry. I used my Italian to order a half bottle of Barolo and she just said “no”. They did Barolo by the glass as it turns out. My entree came; pasta with porcini mushrooms which was lovely but LARGE. A glass of Terre di Barolo 2011 was a great match, I mentioned it is a wine we can get in Australia.
Then there was another course
I was sweating by now, I wasn’t hungry anymore after that starter. And definitely not wanting anything else after the entree. I had ordered Beef with seasonal vegies in a nice sauce (I didn’t actually really know what I had ordered until it arrived!). I was struggling before it came but I soldered on with a glass of Cadia Barolo 2010. Cadia is from Roddi. My waitress wanted to show me something I couldn’t get in Australia.
Finally gave in after spreading my food to the edges of the plate to look like I had eaten some. Asked if I wanted dessert I shook violently. Asked if I wanted cafe I declared a 5 minute amnesty. But I could not do it. I was stuffed but I was still delivered petit fours. One of which I stuffed in my pocket and one of which I made a show of taking away with me.
The walk up hill was worse than expected, the reward was a fire by a really bizarre contraption. It kept me warm and happy until midnight when I told it to turn off and by then I was out.
Rory and Kristina called for a chat not long after I fell asleep. I was pretty keen for company even though I did need my beauty sleep. Because the morning held a drive around Barolo and Barbaresco then a long drive to Bandol. No visits because of their workers day. But it was really a very long day of driving ahead of me.