After the dismal fall of 2001, Chef Tardi closed his popular New York restaurant, Follonico, to spend some time in the Piedmont, a Barolo wine-growing region between Turin and Genoa. He found it quite congenial.
Tardi describes with artful restraint the colorful local characters and gives effusive attention to the native vintner’s art. He scrutinizes a year of the grape, from dormant vine, first growth and pruning through harvest, lovingly describing the transformation from fruit to wine. Care and chemistry, tradition and tasting are accorded proper and learned attention as well. The author seasons his journal with local history. Interspersed are a few dozen local recipes that may not appeal to every reader. One dish calls for calf’s brains, sweetbreads, spleen, cockscombs, veal testicles (6 oz.), liver and, along with the frugal offal, a bit of chicken. Near the end, Tardi explains how to make tripe soup, good for lunch, dinner or breakfast. Happily, the prosperous locals no longer enjoy Gatto alla Cacciatora, so their cats may now roam more freely. But if the recipes do not attract, readers may nevertheless want to find a nice bottle of a 2003 Barolo. The author might have gathered some of the grapes in it.
Made con amore, a mixture of travelogue, wine primer and cookbook, prepared with skill and served with a dash of measured thought.