Julie and I had a list of old and new things we wanted to consume over our six days back in Italy. Things like the classic aperitivi “Spritz” (Julie takes Aperol, while I prefer the slightly more bitter Campari) – As much mozzarella di bufala as humanly possible – Barolo, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Pelaverga, Nascetta and Franciacorta…at wineries and bars around the region – but above all, carne cruda.
The Piedmont region of Italy where we lived, studied and worked over the course of 2012-2013 is known namely for the wines listed above, a few types of formaggio and its more than perfect veal and beef. So perfect, in fact, that it’s most often consumed raw. This Langhe classic is featured on nearly every menu in the area, and is typically Fassone veal thigh beaten and finely chopped with a knife.
Our favorite locale for carne cruda is a tiny local wine bar called Centro Historico, located in the village of Serralunga d’Alba. On the hottest day of the year to date, we sat in a window seat on the second floor, overlooking the castle’s three towers as the bar’s proprietor, Alessio, popped a bottle of Franciacorta for us and got to working on our meal. Following a gorgeous caprese, and pasta dish, it came time for my favorite plate. At Centro Historico the crudo lies on a bit of olive oil and is sprinkled with Maldon salt. The only other accoutrement is a slice of lemon, if that is your preference.
The Piemontese cows are known for producing beef that is very lean and low in cholesterol, hence the coloring in the photo you’ll see here. But even though it’s marbling is minimal, the meat is tender and juicy, time after time. This small plate’s preparation is simply melt-in-your-mouth perfection, particularly when compared to the more complicated tartare preparations in the States. No capers, no boiled egg, no mustard – and I wouldn’t recommend asking for those 😉 Though, when the season is right (October-November) the one addition that even further heightens this pleasurable dish is a bit of shaved fresh truffle.