Donna Selvatica is Open

Our lovely medieval village of Neive has a new fine dining restaurant called Donna Selvatica, named after one of Romano Levi’s grappas.

Us and our friends, Franco and Susan, from
Franco Rocca winery, were invited to the practice dinner last night and we all agree they are off to a great start.

The owner, Valter, chatting up some test customers. The dining room is very elegant and relaxing.

Dinner started with a “tris” a sampling of traditional Piemontese “antipasti” appetizers, Flan di Asparagus, Carne Cruda and Vitello Tonnato.
As you can see, the food was fantastic. The young chef, Gabriele, gave some nice twists to the dishes. For example, the tajarin pasta came with a Langhe white sauce instead the usual meat ragu and Arugula Gnocchi on top of a cream of saffron.
As Daniela, front of house manager, prepares espresso, Susan and Leslie congratulate Chef Gabriele for a great dinner.

No website as of this blog, here is the restaurant info:

Donna Selvatica
Via Rocca, 21
Neive CN 12052

Donna Selvatica is participating in Barbaresco a Tavola.

May 8, 15, & 22
Il Barbaresco a Tavola
3 evenings featuring the new release of 2012 Barbarescos.
A fantastic way to experience the new vintage along with dinner.
At various participating restaurants in the Barbaresco area.
40-85 euros for dinner & wine per person depending on restaurant

Happy New year! Auguri!

winter-neive 2012 (2)
Without snow, which is not guaranteed every year, our landscape here in the Langhe never goes completely gray. This cover crop in vineyard Gallina is trying hard to stay green.
winter truffle 2012
A HUGE bonus of the lack of snow is the extra long truffle season which lasts until the first hard snow. This truffle was found by our friend Lorenzino on Christmas morning. A lot more truffles are being found lately, the price has dropped a lot. This truffle is currently worth about 300€, a month or two ago this would have cost two to three times more.
tombola 2012
The Christmas season would not be complete without playing Tombola (bingo). Leslie won twice so two bags of raw sausage for us. This is the tradition in Treiso every Christmas Eve before midnight mass. Lots of Dolcetto, peanuts and clementines to keep us going.
winter-neive 2012 (1)
With the holiday almost over we can start to catch up on web site work, here Robert in his studio is taking photos of bottles for a client's web site.
winter-neive 2012
With Neive in the background, vineyard bricco San Giuliano is waiting for snow. Many producers are taking advantage of the lack of snow and getting an early start on the winter pruning "potatura", see photo below.
winter pruning 2012

The Jungle is Back

Looking north on the road from Neive to Barbaresco the vines are growing fast.

This looks like a blast from the past, but is a classroom in are village of Neive. Nice too see that there are still classrooms that focus on the basics without distraction.

From our kitchen balcony we are able to keep tabs on the weekly festivals. Maybe we should start a photo blog called
Italy as seen from the Alexanders Kitchen....

It's warming up !

The warmer it gets there are more vegetables available for Chiaro to choose from at our local Neive market every Wednesday.
Soon the famous Roero strawberries from Canale will be in season.

With the warmer temps puppy Cotta's balcony, just off the kitchen, is open for the season along with the first
flowers "Primuli" of the season.

On March 17 Italy celebrated it's sesquicentennial, so in the true Italian spirit the local police along with the
carabinieri (State police) were showing some of the local medal winning wines at the weekly market.
As americans we were curious how big or small of a celebration this would be. Turns out up here in
Piemonte not a lot of fuss. We saw a few flags but no local parades, however there was a lot going on in
Torino (45 min. from here). Most Italians, as we do, think of the Italian culture as very old. Most of our
village and home was built before 1280, so the idea of throwing a giant party for its 150th unification
anniversary seems a little over blown. They (Italians) didn't even get a bridge holiday, so it was back to
school and work on friday.

Neive Get's a New Wine Bar

Just up the street from us is Hotel Castelbourg, which has a resturant / wine bar around back called Degusto and has recently
reopened under new ownership. Great wine list paired with a menu of well chosen local “Piemontese” specialties, plus,
always important, a nice spread on the bar at aperitivo time.
The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, with Andrea or his sister Alessia always right there to get you your drink of choice or seat
you at a table in the arched, brick dining room for lunch or dinner. We can’t wait for spring to sit outside, looking over the piazza.

Andrea on the far right is the new owner, Massimo the chef in the middle and on the left is Danielle, Andrea’s cousin, who
has helped his cousins to get the place open and given lots of support during the first week.

Being sommeliers we are very excited about the wine list. Andrea has a strong wine background working in italy and around the
world in the wine trade. There are a lot of our local favorites and he’s not afraid to think outside the zone (the Barbaresco zone),
we even spotted a Gruner Veltliner in the wine cooler along with a Timorasso from Gavi.

Leslie is displaying one of her paintings, “Ciabot in La Morra” in the display window of the wine bar.

Later in the spring we will post an update of Degusto’s coolest outdoor dining/wine drinking deck in Neive along with a few food shot’s.

Christmas in Neive

Neive (where we moved to this past July) had it’s anual mercatino di Natale and of course the new local artist,
Leslie Alexander, set up shop to sell her new work

No festival here in the Langhe, would be complete without the local chapter of 10th Alpini Regiment “Alpini Veci”.
These are former members of the elite mountain corps. Although they see themselves as on “leave” rather than retired veterans. They are always ready to serve up some grappa, wine, vin brule and roasted chestnuts.
FYI - Formed in 1872, they are the oldest active mountain infantry in the world.

How cool taking a “sleigh” ride in an 1,000 year old village.

Some of the local handmade products for sale