As we wandered off through the streets we headed to the closet of Mario's suggestions to find that it is closed on Wednesdays. Oh well, we continued on and managed to get a seat at another of his recommended places - La Bottega del Vicoletto.
This place has a double life of sorts - not only can you buy your typical range of delicatessan items, you can also buy prepared meals. It also has a small dining area inside - which leads to its nickname "7 seats", though there are more tables outside - if you choose them you'll have to put up with the smoke.
We're in Italy and with every meal, there is always bread
Two types and the one in the front was almost cake-like and incredibly yellow - perhaps enriched with egg yolks.
And to drink - A little bubble to toast our first day in Italy:
Arturo Bersano Riserva 2007
There's a la carte and various degustation menus on offer - we've opted for the degustation of the day.
Insalata Russa - Russian Salad
This is one of my mothers favourites - a selection of diced, boiled vegetables (carrots, potatoes, peas) bound in a saffron flavoured mayonnaise. All the vegetables have been well cooked, each maintaing their integrity and bite, the saffron well balanced so not to overpower.
The famous Tajarin - it is one of the pasta types of the region - some recipes require 40 yolks per kilo of flour! Cooked to perfection and served with a simple ragu. Note that the pasta isn't swamped with sauce, it's actually quite lightly tossed.
Our second wine is:
Prunotto Barbera d'Alba 2006 - impressive
Paalo chooses the Lumache (snails) - cooked in a rich tomato based sauce and served with riced potatoes. Nearby Cherasco is famous for their snails and these snails are quite different to the ones we eaten in australia - quite large and meaty.
My choice was the Rooster cooked with balsamic - this is what "chicken" should taste like, incredibly juicy, tender and flavour rich. The sauce had fantastic depth and the balsamic provided that sweet acidic touch to complement the meat.
I've gone for the the simplicity of strawberries drizzled with orange liqueur - a refreshing choice.
Paalo completes his meal with a proper Panna cotta - served with a caramelised vanilla sauce and complete with the perfect wobble.
If this is a typical dining experience we're in for a fabulous time in Alba and thanks go to Mario for letting us know
La Bottega del Vicoletto
Via Bertero, 6, 12051
Alba Cuneo, Italy
+39 0173 363196
Afternoons - Sunday and Public Holidays and All Day Monday
Seasonal - Second and Third week of August