Many of my favorite producers, wineries and restaurants are a part of Sovversivi Del Gusto, an Italian group of crazy, non-conformist producers, farmers and restaurateurs who focus on quality. This weekend, we gathered with a group of friends (including book photographer, Marco Salzotto) for Manu’s birthday at an elegant yet unpretentious restaurant in Langhe.

There is no better time of year in Langhe than RIGHT now: fall, harvest, truffle festival, unusually warm temperatures, crisp blue skies and orange red grape leaves.The occasion of a birthday lunch brought us to a Sovversivo chef, Cioca’s restaurant in a “frazione” of Dogliani called Fior Del Sale.We enjoyed the company of his girlfriend, the waitress, as well as his mom who nonchalantly sat down beside us and talked about life! Italian style in every way!

I expected a special dining experience from what I had heard, but Sunday exceeded my expectations on all fronts. What was so special about this restaurant you ask? The attention to detail.

With special wines too, we stuck to an aromatic Prosecco for the whole appetizer phase. Speaking of which, the appetizers in my opinion were by far the most impressive. Bite size creations, meticulously plated.  Because the chef takes time to prepare everything on the spot, he satisfies your hunger cravings with these little works of art while you wait. Every plate was a palate of colors and tastes. My favorite dish was a creamy gorgonzola soup served aside a spoon full of cardoons, which were to be added in the soup like a sort of modern day “bagna cauda”. Normally both gorgonzola and cardoons are not my favorite but this combo was exquisite. Then to finish off this beautiful mix of tastes, there was a spoonful of homemade applesauce ready to be eaten. Oh yea… how could I forget….they even make their own bread. For this dish, a filo dough flatbread sprinkled with Sardinian sea salt was served. Simply unforgettable.

After the neverending appetizer surprises, we were served a lasagna crusted burrata and tomatoes. Perfect for vegetarians! We switched over to a full-bodied yet acidic ribolla white wine to get down to more serious business.

As always, I tend to skip or ignore the whole meat course, which obviously was just as tasty as the other dishes! Marco asked especially for testicles….ummm…. crazy much?


Then….another  entertaining show…the dessert. An array of shapes was placed in front of our eyes. A small round bowl of homemade hazelnut gelato, a cone of a type of semi-freddo, and a rolled spiral of a spongecake, hazelnut type of cake. As if that wasn’t enough, with our delicious passito, we were given bite-size cookies, licorice, and chocolate covered grapes. Too bad words and photos are not enough to describe the experience! You have to taste it yourself next time you come visit the area.



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