I was asked by friend how I came to visit piedmont and meet the chef. I first visited and met the well-known chef Cesare in his small village of Albaretto some 20+ years ago and yes time flies. My girlfriend (my wife) was doing research on my behalf to visit Alba and enjoy white truffles. She discovered an article written by Jeffrey Steingarten about a chef named Cesare and the rest is history.
In the 1990s, Jeffrey Steingarten published in Vogue and in 1994, Patricia Wells numbered Cesare from Albaretto among the 10 best cooks in the world in The Herald Tribune /see below/
When we first arrived to the restaurant it was a foggy day and we were greeted by Filippo the son of Cesare. At the time he was resposnible for the front of the house, and was the resident sommelier, he was very knowledgeable in local wines.Filippo was well versed in the wines from the langhe and adored international wines as well. He would serve some local sparkles upon arrival accompanied with pan toasted bread and white truffles, it was awesome. The extravagance of serving white truffles to his clients without the pretension gave Cesare the edge over most other establishments. There is and was no doubt that his truffles were local and Cesare always had them flowing when we arrived.
We developed a relationship with Filippo and later his brother Oscar who was the sous chef working with his Dad in the kitchen. The two brothers and father had their hands full running one of the most popular restaurants in the langhe. At the time Cesare had a young Japanese apprentice named Tadato who worked there for almost 10 years.
Chef and proprietor Cesare Giaccone is one of Piedmont’s legendary culinary figures and when we met him, and he was already exploring Piedmontese recipes respecting tradition and local raw materials with a focus on his own style. A dinner at Da Cesare is not complete without Giaccone’s famous capretto, baby goat. It was slow-roasted to perfection in the fireplace, and was crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside. He used fruit from the Langhe with duck, hazelnuts, polenta, chestnuts and the local mushrooms to enhance the culinary experience. His cuisine merged with the wines of the langhe and he pursued his dreams of being in nature.
We have come to know him and appreciate his continued efforts in producing one of the best vinegars around the globe. For us a trip to Alba region in piedmont is not the same without a dinner there and a hug from Cesare. He laughs every time he sees me as he smiles and says Mr. Moon.
The vinegars are very much a part of the Giaccone tradition and Oscar pursues his passion producing 6 vinegars under the brand Cesare: https://mesubim.com/2014/11/12/cesare-aceto-oscar-giaccone/
In the same small village Filippo has his own restaurant, Oste Filippo and works with his wife in running their small business, a charming downscales Cesare styled Osteria.
In the old days Tadato who now operates a small Italian Trattoria in Kyoto we have come to know was one of the fixtures. My wife and I have many memories in Albertto including an important wine dinner which we held for local winemakers named Mr. Moon in Magnum.
We admire his raw talent, inspiration as we are surrounded by his own paintings, products he uses in his kitchen and the fireplace where he cooks. Otherwise he is working in his kitchen to prepare cotechino an Italian slow cooked pork salami.
The colours of Langhe, aromas of the landscape are what makes a visit here so special. The wooden floor of the Osteria and the walls clad with paintings by Cesare, all shaped into an eating experience you’ll never forget. The hand painted menus with fall colours and a very distinctive ambience of Cesare.
We have come to know many people in piedmont and we have a deep respect for the region and their wines. For anyone who was lucky enough to come to Piedmont they will not be disappointed by the richness of the people and their hills. Cesare Giaccone in Albaretto remains close to our history and we are grateful to him, and his sons for helping us to appreciate the terroir of the Langhe.