Ristorante Caffè Giardino, Albano

This restaurant is good example of how one can find good food seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Okay, Caffè Giardino is only 45 minutes or so drive from Turin, or 15 minutes north of Vercelli, but Albano is a sleepy little town surrounded by hectares of rice fields. The only person we saw on the street that shimmering Friday was an elderly gentleman riding a bike while holding an ice-lolly aloft like a burning candle.

We rang ahead for our risotto, explaining we wanted something that was typical of the area. What we got was a succession of delicious antipasti: parmesan cream with poached spiced apples, crispy cheesy pumpkin flowers, herb stuffed zucchini, vitello tonnato and Russian salad.

And then the Gorgonzola blue cheese and radicchio risotto arrived with the instructions: leave some for second helpings, as it will be even nicer when you’ve left it to stand for a few minutes. Which was true: the rice had absorbed a bit more of the liquid, the cooler temperature allowed the flavours to stand out more. The other learning point I took away with me was not to add too much radicchio – one wants an occasional spike of bitterness not an overall radicchio-flavoured risotto.

If this restaurant were on my doorstep I’d eat here regularly. Address: Via Cappellania 4,13030 Albano Vercellese (VC)