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An Italian Feast in Black and White: Casa Scaparone, Italy

It was a gorgeous autumn evening when my friend Margo and I headed downstairs to try dinner at our beloved and quirky agriturismo, the Casa Scaparone outside Alba, Italy.

In spite of ancient plumbing with water that needed to be heated by wood fires every morning, and a charming host who warned us frequently to prepare for the coming Changement (the technological meltdown of the world), we loved it.

We’d already spent many happy hours writing in the sun-warmed garret, going for walks through the tiny community, and visiting happily in the beautiful courtyard, but tonight would be our first dinner and we were excited.

We arrived far too early, as evidenced by the empty dining room inhabited only by staff members bustling about setting tables and creating a ruckus in the kitchen. But we didn’t mind. It was a gorgeous night and we headed outside to wait for our feast.

We found seats near the outdoor dance floor and waited contentedly under the glow of thousands of tiny lights. Slowly but surely local couples arrived out of the darkness, strolling through the big metal gates and greeting each other like the old friends they undoubtedly were.

We heard music begin and soon our host beckoned us in. At last it was time to eat. With tummies rumbling we took our seats in a far corner where we could people-watch to our hearts content.

Soon the restaurant was filled to capacity, the babble of voices just audible over the jaunty strains of a local band playing Italian country songs. The mood was jolly and vivacious and we grinned as our sociable host made his way from table to table greeting folks with kisses and back slaps and hearty handshakes, welcoming one and all as if they were treasured guests.

Then the food began to arrive.

We started out with a basket brimming with flour-dusted fresh bread, copious amounts of local red wine and a glistening bottle of water. These were followed by:

  • a platter of warm, chewy flat bread
  • chilled asparagus frittata with fresh tomatoes
  • fork-tender slow-roasted beef with carrots and parsley
  • thin crust pizza with savory roasted garlic, tomato and eggplant
  • glossy strands of fettuccine with sausage and cheese
  • tender gnocchi with a rich cream sauce

Imagine our surprise when our waitress then asked us if we were ready for the meat course!!! Apparently we were just getting started. Alas, we were already about to burst, so we begged her to skip right to dessert. Such a choice captured the attention of our host who came to our table to verify that we really only wanted the “small menu.” I love Italy. 🙂

Duly assured that yes, we were perfectly satiated with the small menu, our waitress arrived with dessert. All three of them:

  • heavenly dark chocolate studded with crushed cookies
  • silky custard cake with crumb topping
  • luscious caramelized apples with custard

It was truly marvelous. We settled back in our chairs with one more glass of red wine, feeling warm, full, and contented.

After draining our glasses we bid farewell to our host, assuring him once again that we had adored and were satisfied with every last morsel of our small menu. Choosing the teensy elevator over three flights of stairs, we collapsed happily into our beds and grinned as the band was joined by the crowd bursting loudly into song. Normally such goings on would keep me wide awake, but after such a feast, not even a restaurant full of raucous Italians could keep me from drifting off into luxurious sleep.

What is one of your favorite dining memories?

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bellini - My favourite dining experience was on the island of kea in Greece where we joined a local family for some roasted goat, lemon potatoes, dolmades, fried zucchini and Horitaki salad. Out came the homemade raki and the music while we danced overlooking the azure blue Agean sea.

Margo Millure - Squee. 

Krista -  That sounds absolutely idyllic, Val! I love picturing you and your friends dancing in the moonlight by the ocean. Incredible! 🙂

Krista -  Doesn’t it make you want to go back RIGHT NOW??!! I loved that night. 🙂 Still makes me smile lo these many months later. 🙂

Pieces of Sunshine - Love the building and unusual bricked ceiling. An evening to remember for sure, so different to dining in most Australian restaurants I imagine.
We very,very rarely eat out, maybe once every three or four years.

Margo Millure - if that’s what the coming changement looks like, sign us up!

Deanna - I want to go. Right this second. Or if I could just follow you around (maybe stowaway in your luggage?) I would be so happy. Well not the traveling via luggage part, but the fabulous trips. 

Nomadic Samuel - Wonderful photos.  I love how you’ve captured it all in b&w 🙂

Zita - You had such an amazing feast! Reading your post I got so hungry! I want my lunch now! 🙂

Krista -  I love that ceiling too, Pieces of Sunshine. Though I confess I did eye it regularly to make sure it wasn’t about to come down around my ears. 🙂 We didn’t eat out much when my brothers and I were all at home either. 🙂

Krista -  Maybe if I bring really roomy luggage? With air holes, air conditioning and a comfy sofa? 🙂

Krista -  Thank you, Samuel. 🙂 Sometimes black and white is the perfect medium, eh? 🙂

Krista -  Wasn’t it incredible, Zita?! As they brought plate after plate we just started laughing. We thought it would never stop! 🙂

Rosa May - Nice clicks and lovely place! It looks like you had a great time there.



Krista -  Thank you, Rosa. 🙂 It IS a lovely place – way out in the country, earthy and wonderful. 🙂

Joanne - This sounds like SUCH a beautiful experience! Good food and people watching are the best, especially when combined.

Andi Perullo - Wow now this is a truly unforgettable dining experience!

Food Lover Kathy -  Krista – Again I love the way you bring the place and your host to life.  The idea of a small meal is relative, isn’t it?  It all looks and sounds so delicious.

[email protected] - The black and white photos add another whole dimension. I love it. What a great place to stay

Stevie - “Small menu!”  How amazing.  I really like your black-and-white pics. I’ve been reading about the German artist Gerhard Richter recently.   He does marvelous abstract paintings but also incredible black-and-white realistic ones. I’ve been thinking of a series of black and white paintings of my own and you’re inspiring me today.

mlleparadis - i can’t possibly have a favorite.  i just hope to have many many more!  i might start with your seafood platter in budvar!  thx for sharing gorgeous pics as always.  also wanted to try an agriturismo…….

thefisherlady - if you could believe it… peanut butter and banana sandwiches on a saiboat on my 20th birthday racing away from a violent storm… I was starved and it was a meal prepared by my father-in-law with such love…

Nourhan (Miss Anthropist) - That is one gorgeous picture!

Turkey's For Life - Oh that’s whetted the appetite perfectly. We’re going to Italy for a week in spring – it will be my first time there – and we’re REALLY looking forward to the foodie experience. Great photos! 

Ayngelina - Love the black and white photos, it gives it such a classic feel.

Krista -  It really, really was, Joanne. 🙂 Just thinking about it again makes me smile. 🙂

Krista -  It IS, dear Andi. 🙂 It makes me so happy just looking at these pictures again. 🙂

Krista -  Thank you so much, Kathy. 🙂 He is such a delightfully eccentric person. 🙂

Krista -  I’m so glad you like the black and white, Jenny. 🙂 It just NEEDED to be in black and white. 🙂

Krista -  Oh Stevie, I’m THRILLED to hear that! I didn’t know you were an artist as well as a traveler AND inspiring cook. I hope you will post your work sometime. 🙂

Krista -  I would happily share with you, Paradis! 🙂 I hope you get to experience an agriturismo soon. I’ve tried three and although all very different, each had their charms. 🙂

Krista -  I DO believe it, Susan! That sounds absolutely perfect. 🙂

Krista -  Thank you so much, Nourhan! 🙂

Krista -  I’m so excited for you, Julia!! I will look forward to reading about your adventures there. 🙂

Krista -  Thank you, Ayngelina. 🙂 I love them too. They capture the mood so beautifully. 🙂

Italy on a Plate: The Week in Italian Food: Feb 19, 2012 - Food Lover's OdysseyFood Lover's Odyssey - […] An Italian Feast in Black and White: Casa Scaparone, Italy – Rambling Tart […]

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