After the disappointing reptile and bird exhibit at the most random Safari Park in Murazzano, we tried to find a small dairy farm (caseificio) to visit where we could taste some of this amazing cheese! We came across one cheese shop with a great selection to choose from, but soon realized that our stomachs were calling for something more...a big plate of pasta! The shop assistant told us that the cheese producers were all so small that surely they were not around on Sunday. So we decided to check out and explore "downtown" Murazzano and sit outside at the local Trattoria da Lele.
Italy's strict and unspoken timetables always make me feel uneasy. It was 2:15 and I was convinced we were too late to get in anywhere, but we heard laughter and loud voices streaming out the windows. We were in luck. Catching the owner's eye (a total Jay Leno lookalike!), we asked if we could sit on the patio and just order a plate of pasta. Like I have said many times before...it's tough being a vegetarian in Piemonte and the same story continues to repeat itself. "Jay" chuckled as he verbally read us our options (option) : homemade "tajarin" (egg noodle pasta) with a fresh tomato meat sauce. Was my one simple request too much to fulfill? He offered me Piemonte's predictable answer to vegetarians, pasta with "Burro e Salvia" (butter and sage). Fine. Although it's delicious, I'm a tomato sauce and colorful veggie-loving gal and this can get boring sometimes! But with our house Nebbiolo we were two happy clams!
People often criticize the ginormous portions we eat in the US but these single plates of tajarin were insane. The owner/waiter quickly brought out two of these huge platters of pasta, one for each of us. It seemed like an impossible task to make a dent in it but once we piled up our bowls and started slurping, the glutton in us took over! It was so simple and so delicious. That's when I saw him bring out one of their antipasti from the fixed menu to the other table, agro-dolce red onions topped with Murazzano Dop Cheese mousse! He must have seen my yearning fixation on the plate and catching my drift, asked, "want one too?". Si! After all we were in Murazzano. Doing things backwards, we got our onion/cheese appetizer which paired perfectly with our house Nebbiolo. The rich creamy cheese tamed down the sweetness of the onions making this dish exquisitely pure bliss.
We were having a great time talking to the whole family working there until we asked for the check. Normally this place would be an unbelievable deal: 5 antipasti, 2 pastas, meat dish with vegetables, dessert, house wine, water and coffee all for 30 Euros. However our pasta, split appetizer, fruit salad, half liter of wine and water cost 22 euros each! I felt gipped and taken advantage of, almost like I had fallen into a tourist trap and bought into the owner's conniving friendliness. Feeling somewhat Italian now, we went back to ask for clarification about the price because it seemed like a little too much. They said it was a mistake and gave us back 15 euros. Hmmm...We left this wonderful experience a little tainted and full of doubt. Maybe it really was just an honest mistake but it goes to show you that in Italy you can never be too trusting! Or perhaps it is just better to go for the whole full course meal like a true Piemontese when you are at a trattoria. We worked off our pasta by walking to the ancient tower in the center of Murazzano. A cute town to visit not only for it's cheese but also for it's tower, mill and views!