Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Grand Hotel Billia (St Vincent in Aosta)

October 2015

Viale Piedmont 72, 11027 Saint-Vincent Aosta, Italy
Tel: +39 0166 5231

Nestled at the foot of the Italian side of the Alps is the majestic Grand Hotel Billia. A century old monument, a reminder of the romantic belle époque era, this hotel has been recently fully renovated to reflect the modernist tastes of today's elite yet retaining many of its charms of the olden days. We stayed here for three nights at the tail end of our fortnight-long European trip, as we were looking for a relaxing last few days after a hectic travel (and eating) schedule. After recently partaking in the gastronomic wonders of Catalunya and Piedmont, the Aosta region where the Italian Alps sits is considered a culinary desert in comparison. Moreover, we were there in the middle of the week, during which time many of the top restaurants in the area were closed, so this was a good opportunity to give our stomachs (and livers) a break.

We didn't really know what to expect when we drove up the driveway to this large but relatively obscure hotel. But the magnificence of this property didn't take long to dawn upon us. It was a tasteful combination of the memorable features of the old property and the chic and modern touches, coupled with 6-star service, which made it probably the most beautiful hotel we have ever had the privilege of guesting at. Add to that, the crisp fresh air and gorgeous views of the Alps and the valleys below them (including the view of the peak of Mont Blanc) made our stay here as close to experiencing a slice of heaven as we have ever had.

During our recuperative stay here, we wandered out during the day to visit the local sights (the ancient Roman ruins and a ride up the cable car to the peak of Mont Blanc were notable experiences), but had all our meals at the hotel. In addition to the landscape views offered, the food of the restaurant was more than decent. Very competently prepared Northern Italian cuisine was served here with a good selection of local wines, and this kept us well fed in the day and well entertained after sunset.

Risotto with asparagus cream and onion goat cheese

Small rack of lamb baked with herbs, spinach and parmesan cheese

Porcini mushroom sautéed fettuccine and tomato slices 

Risotto with apples, shallots and Muscat de Chambave wine

Grilled fish of the day

Sicilian eggplant caponata with parmesan cheese wafers

Beef carbonada Valdaostan style with toasted corn croutons

Cogne's cream

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