On the day before Ferragosto, the biggest holiday in Italy, our mission was to find a dairy farm in the mountains for our two little girls to see, and possibly milk, mountain cows. By chance, we stumbled across Agriturismo Agrifoglio, a cute agriturismo just 5 minutes out of Limone Piemonte, a picturesque mountain village in the French Maritime Alps. The food was simple but delicious, and we ate overlooking their cows (and a calf) grazing peacefully with a stunning mountain backdrop.
One of the cool things about the Langhe is its proximity to a number of mountain ranges, the French Maritime Alps and Ligurian Alps (about 1 hour) and the Swiss Alps (2 hours). There are so many charming little mountain villages to explore, so where to begin?
Limone Piemonte is immediately appealing - a gorgeous little village located in Col di Tende between the French Riviera and the Italian Riviera. At just over an hour and 15 min drive from the Langhe, it is a perfect day trip in the summer to get some fresh mountain air or in the winter for world class skiing. It is also a convenient mid way point on the back road between the Langhe and Nice (France). (I was interested in the role Its strategic location played in its history and found a good summary on the village's website.)
The village itself is very attractive, with stone-built chalets and a chic feel, boutique shops and a wide range of restaurants, including both French and Italian, with a focus on mountain cuisine (think raclette, polenta). We could easily have eaten at one the many restaurants in the town, but given it was the day before Ferragosto, to say it was busy is a gross understatement.... So we ventured out of the town to seek out a mountain retreat, and we found Agriturismo Agrifoglio.
The Agriturismo was a great find - picture-perfect location, nestled within two imposing mountain ranges. The building itself appeared to have been recently renovated. It was tastefully decorated, but homey, with exposed stone vaulted ceilings, I can imagine it being stunning also in winter. And there were cows! Right on the grass out front of the restaurant, and one little calf. We were also lucky to find a cute puppy that needed a new home, but somehow we managed to resist taking him with us....
The restaurant at the agriturismo was the quintessential experience. There were two or three simple menus using their own or local produce, all inclusive for EUR25 for a plate of antipasti, a main meal (various grilled meat options, or polenta and cheese) and either cheese plate or dessert, together with coffee, water and digestive included. They also had a kid's menu of hamburger or pasta, drink and dessert for EUR10. The antipasti platter was impressive, with a nice mix of vegetables (fried green tomatoes, stuffed zucchini, fried zucchini flowers) and meat ('vitello tonnato' (poached veal with tuna sauce), herb-stuffed roll of rabbit, and house-cured 'lardo' on crostini with cheese). For main, I had the veal grill and the meat was so tender and the char-grilled flavours were sublime. And for dessert, there was a platter of three, the highlight being the stuffed peaches (poached peaches filled with amaretti biscuits and chocolate).
A cut above, we will return, maybe in winter next time.
Eleanor Fletcher - living in the heart of the Langhe, Monforte D'Alba (Barolo). Searching for great eats, formidable drinks and fun times. Married to a Barolo and Barbaresco producer, plus a mother of two 'principesse'.