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Where the Slow Food Movement All Began
Whether it’s visiting modern-day Rome in all its magnificent chaos, exploring the refined hill-towns of Tuscany, or taking in gravity-defying vistas along the Amalfi Coast, a trip to Italy is a feast for the senses and there’s always a new mystery to unravel in each unexplored region.
That’s one of the reasons we found ourselves in Piedmont, Italy, this past August: an unsatisfied curiosity. And what did this region have to teach us about food, wine, and fine-living that couldn’t be found in other parts of the country?
We wondered strongly if all this slow food fine-living was accessible to the average traveler, so packing up our wondrously-small Renault Clio, we hit the road with only our trusty Lonely Planet, and pasta-loving appetites, to guide us. Unfortunately, the truffle pig had to stay at home.
I’d always considered this northern region, which shares a border with France and Switzerland, to be somewhat difficult to get to know.
Sure, I’d heard about the Slow Food movement, and it would be hard to have a discussion about Italian wine without inserting the regional superstars of Barolo & Barbera, and wasn’t there also something about truffle-hunting in Alba?
We wondered strongly if all this fine-living was accessible to the average traveler, so packing up our wondrously-small Renault Clio, we hit the road with only our trusty Lonely Planet, and pasta-loving appetites, to guide us.
Unfortunately, the truffle pig had to stay at home.
We began unraveling the mysteries of Piedmont in Bra, Italy. The slow food movement itself has international recognition, and membership, but it was all started here, in 1986, by one man who believed in “preserving traditional and regional cuisine while supporting local producers.” Thus, the first stop on our self-directed “slow food” tour was the grand Caffè Converso – rumored to be frequented by none other than the slow food movement founder himself, Carlo Petrini.
Although we didn’t catch a glimpse of Mr. Petrini, it occurred to me that there couldn’t possibly be anything more enjoyable to do that morning than sip quietly on my frothy cappuccino and take-in some of the lively town gossip at the cafè. I got the impression we were beginning to get a feel for what it meant to live slowly.
But all this still begged the question, where was the “food” in Slow Food Italy? We reluctantly left the cafè, and after a few wrong turns down the narrow streets of Bra, we got set in the right direction for what was promised to be an authentic Slow Food lifestyle experience at Osteria Boccondivino.
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With high hopes (and bigger appetites), we set out again.
There was just a hint of an August rain storm approaching, and just when I was ready to throw-in the proverbial “slow” towel, we spotted a large Slow Food sign tucked away in an ivy-covered courtyard.
Well, I guess the mind can play a few tricks on you when you’re hungry, because instead of an Italian osteria, we stumbled upon the editorial offices for Slow Food publications.
Umm, yeah, I’d say that sounds like a pretty cool job. Still there was no food but I thought they could have at least offered us a glass of wine for our efforts.
I mean I would have penned a quick review if they’d only asked. Just sayin’.
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Thankfully Osteria Boccondivinia was just down the street from the editorial building, and we finally settled in for an undeniably incredible lunch (I’ve got just about 10 photos of the menu to prove it).
The restaurant is family-owned and operated, and the menu is chock-full of local specialties ranging from tajarin al burro & salvia (small tagliatelle-shaped pasta with butter & sage sauce) to vitello tonnato (veal with a tuna cream sauce).
The icing on the Slow Food cake, and what really makes dining at Osteria Boccondivina a unique experience, is each dish, prepared according to regional traditions and using products from local growers & farmers, bears the Slow Food logo on the menu. As did our dessert of semifreddo al croccante e pistacchio di Bronte. Does anyone know the Italian expression for extreme-yumminess?
199 Via Vittorio Emanuele II
12042 Bra, Italy
Tel: +39 0172.413.626
14 Via Mendicità
12042 Bra, Italy
Tel: +39 0172.425.674