Best of Valle d’Aosta: Restaurant Cadran Solaire (Courmayeur)

Many years ago, I had driven through the Monte Blanc pass on my way to Cinqueterre with my friend Joan who had been living in Switzerland. I had forgotten just how stunning the peaks are in this amazing region of the world. After my weekend jaunt in Piedmont, I needed to head to Geneva for a meeting so off I went in my little macchina.  At first, when leaving Piedmont, I noticed the white haze on the horizon, thinking it was cloud cover but then quickly realized that I was staring at the snow topped peaks of the Alps in the distance.  I knew I was headed for something spectacular. With mouth agape, I spent the next few hours trying to drive, navigate and snap photos all at the same time (I know, I know – bad girl).  I soon stumbled upon the little town of Courmayeur, with all its alpine ski village charm, at the base of Monte Blanc in the Valle d’Aosta region.  The stunning views of the snow coated peaks soaring above the village were breathtaking and although there was still quite a nip in the air, I couldn’t force myself inside.  (One side note – men should not be allowed to wear full length fur coats. Ever.  They look very, very silly.)  Finally, hunger won out  and I remembered reading about a restaurant named Cadran Solaire (named after the sun-dial adorning its upper floor).  I had also read that reservations are essential so crossed my fingers and headed down Via Roma.  Luckily, most of the swanky Courmayeur crowd was still on the slopes and I was able to score a table in the cozy bar area, complete with a vaulted ceiling of stone from the 16th century.    Warm and tucked in between the locals enjoying their lunch, I ordered a warming glass of red wine and perused the menu. The restaurant features specialities of the Valle d’Aosta region as expected and my food did not disappoint. 

For my primi, I settled on a sliced artichoke and shaved parmigiano salad served in a vinagarette. Oh my. The artichokes were just a bit crunchy and were the perfect backdrop to the tanginess of the parmigiano.  The sprinkled pomegrante seeds left me smiling as I sprinkle pomegrante seeds on everything I can findwhen they are in season.  A recipe after my own heart and one certainly that I will be attempting at home now that spring is here and artichokes are in season!

And then. Wow. The secondo arrived. An incredible concoction of homemade gnocchi, light as a feather, topped with a creamy sauce of gorgonzola and radicchio. Mmmmmmm.  It was incredible. When the plate arrived, I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to finish half of it. As I was scooping up the last gnocchi and considering licking the plate (thankfully I did not), I noticed the waiter smirking at my obvious contentment.   After a doppio espresso, I waddled back to my macchina – happy and content.

Please, please, please stop at this little gem of a restaurant if you find yourself in the region. Absolutely delightful staff, great food, warm atmosphere and amazing views! Worth the stop if you are any where near Courmayeur!

Cadran Solaire

Via Roma, 122

11013 Courmayeur (AO)

Tel. 0165 844609

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