It was during the time I wandered about and.., (Hunger by Hamsun, translated by George Egerton) – no not at all, I did not wander about hungry in Alba. Far from it. September last year, on my way to catch the train to Bra, I had some extra time so I did not go straight to the train station, but rather off the written trail. Serendipity struck and all by a sudden I was in front of a cheese farmer selling the cheese of the cooperative he belonged to. Caprino d’Alpe the cheese was called. If I am not completely wrong there was a farmer alongside him as well selling his Italian salame. But this morning it was all about cheese. I was the only customer, so we naturally had a chat. When he realised I was Norwegian he told me about his travels to my country in general and his coastal express journey in particular. Nice. I, on my part, wandered away with a Caprino d’Alpe, nicely wrapped. I caught the train to Bra and Cheese 2017 as was the purpose for my visit.
Cheese 2019 in Bra
I’ve alredy booked my hotel for Cheese 2019, September next year. I had such difficulties getting a place to stay last year so I decided to book in due time for next year’s event. Last year I booked through booking.com, and when I arraived my reservation had slipped through their net, so they had no room for me. Well, they realised I actually had a booking, so someone had to move. After half an hour or so and two glasses of wine on the house, I had a room.
I am comfortable with staying in Alba. It is just a short train ride from Bra and if you buy a ticket booklet you don’t have to line up in from of the ticket office every morning. Very tedious, especially on the Saturday and Sunday mornings when everyone is going to Bra. Further, I feel I am starting to know the town as well. I also need to get away from the crowds to re-energize. That’s how I am wired. But next year it will not only be Cheese 2019, I have to get round and about to visit some cheese makers. I have a lot to learn about Italian cheese other than the big and famous.
Caprino d’Alpe from Castelmagno
Caprino d’Alpe is a fine cheese. As I also happened to be in Alba this autumn as well, I had hoped to find “my” farmer selling the the cooperative cheese at Via Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, the end facing the Duomo. But alas, they had moved to the front of the white church, and Alba was chock full og people attending the truffle festival. So “my” farmer was probably at home avoiding the crowds. September seems to be a better month for visiting Alba.I am planning for a trip to Castelmagno and the La Poiana cooperative in the Cueno province, south west of Alba. It is a two hours’ drive.
Another cheese hailing from the same area is Robiola di Capra, also known a La Rossa due to the cherry leaf wrapping and bast band. It’s about two years since I last tasted it, and when I wrote about it in here, it created quite a rush.
And the conclusion is?
If you want to taste the Caprino d’Alpe you have to travel to Alba, or at least Piedmont. La Rossa is probably more available elsewhere as well. Don’t you all travel to Piedmont now and then? That’s my impression anyway. €13 is the normal price for a full cheese, but €20 during the Alba truffle festival. Marketisation.