Piatto & Dolce d’Autore at Douja d’Or- Asti, Italy
One aspect of this festival is the Piatto & Dolce d’Autore, a nightly dinner during Douja d’Or that showcased a local restaurant chef and a pastry chef in the Piedmont region. We initially registered in advance online for only one dinner for two reasons. First, we did not know what the dinner would entail and if it would be a good use of time in comparison to local restaurants. Second, we did not want to limit ourselves to this style of dining each night when we were in a Asti and wanted to explore our countless options.
Upon arriving for our reservation, we were escorted to our table by culinary institute students. Each table sat 8-10 people (think wedding style) so it forced us way out of our comfort zone, which was an important and (we were hoping) fun aspect to this experience.
The chef featured this evening was from a local favorite, Osteria del Diavolo. Our glasses were immediately filled with local wine of Piedmont while the chef and pastry chef introduced the meal. Our dinner tonight was risotto with braised beef in a wine reduction with hazelnuts.
This dish was so delicious. The combination of the creamy risotto and the richness of the meat was a harmonious match. Unfortunately, we could barely finish it since we made the rookie mistake of eating so much at the Sagre beforehand.
Dessert was a nougat with hazelnuts and dark chocolate pieces. It had a gelato consistency and was incredibly tasty.
And the service was perfection! Our wine glasses were not only never empty, but we were always offered multiple kinds of wine and finished the night with grappa. Care to guess how much we paid for this experience? 19 euro a person. It was outrageously inexpensive for the quality of food and the service- so outrageous we immediately signed up for these dinners the remaining nights of our time in Asti for delicious culinary meals and crafted desserts. What an amazing way to experience dishes from all over the region!
Our second dinner was later in the evening 9PM so we were looking forward to attending this one hungry.
Familiar with the routine, we took our seats, got our first glasses of wine, and heard introduction comments from the chef from Ristorante La Grotta and the pastry chef. Dinner was lasagna stuffed with rabbit- absolutely amazing. The lasagna portion was so flavorful! We could not get enough of this dish.
The dessert was a roll-log of chocolate cake with a rum spiked cream. The dessert could have done without so much rum as it was a tad overwhelming but the cake portion compensated nicely.
An exciting part of this dinner was we had sustained conversation with our table. The man next to Kevin spoke English very well and had visited the States multiple times- NYC, California, the Grand Canyon- more than we have seen of the west coast. We enjoyed his company (and English!) as he helped facilitate conversations with the table over our tasty meal.
The third Douja d’Or meal was another wonderful showcase of Piedmontese food from Il Bagatto Ristorante. The meal was traditional agnolotti (donkey meat filled little ravioli) with a stewed meat on the top with the gravy.
Dessert was chocolate profiteroles- puff pastry covered (swimming) in chocolate sauce.
Our final Piatti e Dolce d’Auture at the 50th Douja d’Or! The restaurant chef featured was from Restorante Bandini and our meal was guinea fowl thigh with pear and black truffle sauce. Yes, it was every bit delicious as it sounds- the pear sauce with the truffle was perfection. Do you see green? Our first vegetable sighting at one of these meals! A much desired side salad. This was an incredible meal to end our time in Asti.
The dessert was a chocolate cake with a cherry sauce and while I am not a cherry fan, the sauce paired very well with the rich decadence of the cake.
What made this meal extra special was the company we shared at the table. We sat with a young adult and his parents. The parents were delightfully engaged and curious with us in conversation. The son was a college student and concerned that his parents would say something embarrassing in English- glad to see parent-child interactions are the same! The son had perfect English and we enjoyed speaking with the three of them about Asti, the Palio, and their ‘dream’ of visiting the States. We really enjoyed their company!
We felt so fortunate to have found this part of the festival and feel we took full advantage! Trying new dishes, exploring the wines of the region, and making some new friends. Such a creative and fun way to explore the best culinary minds in the region all in one place.