da gemma, located in the diminutive town of roddino, is perhaps one of my favorite osterie in all of piedmont. they’ve moved to shinier, less working-class digs, but the honesty and simplicity are still intact, and gemma still comes by the tables to ask if you have room for secondi and to apologize if the bread is kind of off, as she made it herself that morning. (gemma oddly resembles alice waters a little.) every table is given some salumi to slice at the table, and all the dishes are served family-style and everyone gets whatever the kitchen is turning out that evening. which is the piemontese canon:
carne cruda: ground/chopped raw veal, dressed subtly — almost indiscernibly — with olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe the faintest trace of lemon juice. maybe you missed out when last i spoke of carne cruda, but i have to insist, particularly to the squeamish and to those who don’t find the appearance all that appealing, carne cruda is THE BEST REASON for living in piemonte. made from the teenaged, big-thighed white piemontese breed, the veal here is incomparable in flavor and so, so good raw and chopped up into bits.
insalata russa. russian salad — which is just diced veg (potatoes, carrots, plus peas) dressed with shitloads of mayonnaise. and is usually pretty ehhh. but there’s something about gemma’s version — i dunno if it’s just that they’ve stripped the salad down to its most fundamental elements or if they slip some crack into it, but it’s the fucking best insalata russa ever. ever. and that, despite it’s appearance. (which could be said for just about everything they serve here, as my photos can attest.)
vitello tonnato. classic. tasty. this measures up to the standard.
tajarin with some kind of sugo. we guessed rabbit. the pasta here doesn’t tend to be the best per se, but apparently, they bring in all the old ladies of the town on wednesdays to prepare the agnolotti and ravioli (which are also served in additioin to the tajarin.)
and here, one normally might also get secondo, perhaps rabbit, roasted veal or pork and something else even. but we, having learned our lesson just a week previous there and regretting our non-elastic-waisted pants, decided to skip straight to dessert.
which was meringata, basically crunchy baked meringue, slathered with a big ol’ layer of whipped cream and topped with torrone (nougat — crunchy hazelnut nougat, in this case). the shit looks uninspiring, but dude, it is good. you also get apple strudel if you want, a sort of pineapple-ladyfinger cake, also covered in whipped cream (they strive for a 1:1 ratio here, solids to cream) and
bunet as big as your head. bunet is a pudding made of tons of dairy (butter, milk and cream), eggs, sugar, amaretti cookies, maybe some bitter chocolate and not much else. i’m not a fan, but the piemontese (particularly boys, for whatever reason) love the stuff.
what’s especially amazing about gemma is that, for all this delicious food and this great, chill atmosphere, you pay €22, which includes a lot of wine as well. i love finding the very american institution (which i usually abhor) of all-you-can-eat in this most italian of places. and amazingly, it works really, really well. it’s probably single-handedly increased my appetite and stomach capacity twofold. either that, or i have a tape worm.