Enrico Crippa's tribute to Barolo

The chef from Piazza Duomo in Alba, 16 years after opening, collects the stimuli offered by the Cerettos' and presents a menu that celebrates the iconic Italian wine. Which has changed skin

09-08-2021

Yes, of course, we didn't stop too long, after February 2020, and now that we are out again, we're all trying to rush and make up for the lost time so much so that days should have 36 hours to be able to do everything. But we were still very surprised of the invitation that came from Alba late in May, for Enrico Crippa's latest menu at Piazza Duomo, the restaurant owned by the Cerettos. We were all surprised because for the first time since the restaurant opened 16 years ago, in 2005, Crippa has dedicated a tasting menu to Barolo. And everyone now wonders why only now.

The answer came on Thursday 1st of July in the glasses, six glasses, one per each Barolo presented, and each one very different from the stereotypes that have always accompanied this champion of Italian, and global, oenology.  All from the Cerettos, but this is an exception because in time the menu will allow to “discover the many facets of Barolo through the peculiarities of each town, style and philosophy”. Hence other producers too, and it's certainly uncommon to allow a territory to grow by involving the competition as well.

Enrico Crippa at work in the kitchen at Piazza Duomo in a photo from Letizia Cigliutti

Enrico Crippa at work in the kitchen at Piazza Duomo in a photo from Letizia Cigliutti

Vincenzo Donatiello, sommelier, hid the first by using the term “Al buio”, only to reveal later that it was a Prapò 2008, followed by Bussia 2015, Brunate 2013, Bricco Rocche 2006 and Cannubi San Lorenzo 2009. They accompanied ten moments of a particularly successful lunch, in terms of concept, company and atmosphere, so much so that it reminded me of the times, back between the Nineties and the Zeros, when I still hadn't created, together with Claudio Ceroni, Identità Golose. Following then the birth of the so-called Nuova Cucina Italiana, especially between Spain and Italy, was an absolute pleasure so much so it rarely felt like work, though it was.

Roberta Ceretto said: «For us this is a real party after stopping for a long time because of the pandemic but also because of many news like the purchase of new vineyards, and this menu had us pull out of the drawers notes and ideas which we hadn't pursued because we were too busy. In this sense, covid has helped, we discussed about it and this is the result: dishes that for the first time are married with the flagship wine of the family and of the area. But do not worry, the vegetables that our chef holds so dear are still here».

Enrico Crippa: L'Albese

Enrico Crippa: L'Albese

Now it's Enrico Crippa's turn to speak: «I arrived in Alba in 2003 as a pupil of Gualtiero Marchesi. I was used to think that the perfect pairing was with water and herb tea. I had to change my horizons. And then there was a problem in embracing Barolo and it was the way it was conceived, produced, and experienced. It called for rather demanding dishes, long cooking, salmì, or stews, and game, loved by people who had no intention to accept producers making it more current, easy to drink throughout the meal, and not only adoring it as if it were a moonless night. So we basically had a specific Barolo until the Nineties, and a new one now, modern, slightly less alcoholic, to be enjoyed with the meal, and not only in adoration. It is thanks to this that I could finally respond to the messages that arrived from the winery. It was a remarkable work because not always what we believed right was in fact such».

A long teamwork that involved even roles, like the oenologist, who don't usually belong to the kitchen. «We first discussed the project on the 20th of January. We were too many, discussing, tasting, judging. It wasn't easy». For multiple reasons, including the significant fact that Ceretto no longer follows the dreamy attitude of Bruno Ceretto who mostly followed his instinct, as an authentic patron, but is now a structured reality with a practical management. Now every division must walk with its own legs and produce profit, including Piazza Duomo.

Enrico Crippa: Wild garlic risotto

Enrico Crippa: Wild garlic risotto

Here's why they will soon announce the opening of a restaurant – and not an osteria, so there's no reference to Piola -, far from the Langhe and Italy. China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan thinking about a richer place, less affected by the covid tsunami. It won't be a Piazza Duomo bis. For now, let's enjoy the fruit of the labour dedicated to Barolo from Crippa and from Vincenzo Donatiello, sommelier, as well as Roberta and Federico Ceretto and Giacolino Gillardi, general manager of the group.

And the tasting? I like to quote the service notes of Vincenzo Donatiello: «Lingue di suocera and Arlette: Parmigiano wafer, almond cream, lemon zest and pepper.

Enrico Crippa: King trumpet

Enrico Crippa: King trumpet

«The beginning: 1. A tile of potatoes and onions fried with cheese; filling of ricotta, salsa verde and sprouts. 2. Chickpea sandwich, a tribute to Caffè Mulassano in Torino, filled with chicken and egg yolk mayo. 3. Eclair with cooked endive, olives, candied cherry tomatoes and Raschera d'alpeggio. 4. Heart of lettuce and tuna sauce. 5. Our Russian salad: soya mayonnaise, crispy vegetables and gelatine.

«Insalata vignaiola: An endive pastry filled with green lettuce, apple, salsa verde, hazelnut, walnuts, veal tongue and Raschera.

«L’Albese: Fassona Carpaccio, black truffle, black truffle sauce and hazelnuts.

«Hazelnut roll and veal broth.

Enrico Crippa: Vacca podolica

Enrico Crippa: Vacca podolica

«Snails e polenta: Stewed snails, “dirty” corn and buckwheat, wild herbs and herbs from the vegetable garden.

«Carlo Alberto bread: Bread made for the soldiers during the war, made with anchovies, butter and hazelnuts. We kept the same recipe and pair it with Marchand de vin butter.

«Risotto with wild garlic: Riso Carnaroli mixed with a cream of wild garlic, Parmigiano and flowers.

«King trumpet and summer black truffle.

«Biova: Traditional bread from Piedmont, similar to Michette. We rediscovered it for the menu as it's now hard to find in a restaurant. You can mostly find it in regional bakeries.

«Podolica cow: it's a breed from South Italy. We use this meat because it's fatter so it doesn’t need to be paired with a sauce. In this case the sauce is made with Barolo. Spinach and tatsoi with mustard.

«Pumpkin seed brittle with Malghesino, a blue cheese from the region south of Lodi, with dehydrated raspberries and frizzy pazzy.

«Strawberry vacherin: a cylinder of meringue, almond biscuit, strawberry sorbet, whipped cream and powdered yogurt; Strawberry salad and Moscato gelatine; Torta Paradiso; Drink of dog rose and hibiscus.

Enrico Crippa: Zabaione

Enrico Crippa: Zabaione

«Biscotto Cavour similar to a Savoiardo to be dipped in zabaglione; Biscotto Margherita dedicated to the Queen Margherita; Panna cotta and chocolate Bonet».

Final detail: the Barolo menu is available for 500 euros, including wines of course. It's basically forbidden for non-drinkers because the dishes are designed based on the wines. I'll ask Crippa.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Enrico Crippa: Snails and polenta

Enrico Crippa: Snails and polenta


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