As usual in May I traveled to Alba, an old favorite town, for Vinum2012 to see my friends the producers, to eat the best food ever, and to taste and enjoy the spectacle of 60 different Barolo and the same number of Barbera, Nebbiolo 100 percent, Dolcetto, an old favorite too, and the ever-expanding Piemonte whites: Moscato di Asti, Arneis, Favorita, Nascetta, Sauvignon, Gavi.

Unlike many large wine fairs which only cater to the trade, Alba's fairs do both. They are fun for the novice and equally interesting and captivating for those of us who live, eat, breathe and sleep wine and write about it, of course. The truffle fair in Autumn sees half of Lombardia and most of the world visits Alba each day.

I will be doing a list of my favorites. Gregory dal Piaz has posted on his Barolo visit and his favorites, but this post is more to give you a taste of Alba and its environs. The Langhe and Roero, for which Vinum is held.

Watching someone shave a succulent and fragrant white truffle onto your steaming, freshly-made pasta dish must be one of the most sublime experiences in the universe.

Alba and its environs hold so many wonderful experiences and flavors for both the wine and food fan. There's an entire street with wonderful enotecas and wine cellars with vertical displays of all your favorites going back 20 years, where you can indulge your passion for browsing, snooping and perhaps swipe some digits onto your plastic.

Almost every small bar or restaurant has a good wine offering and food that pairs beautifully with it. So yes, unless you are a taster who must line up 40 Barolos and taste them for Spectator, Parker or Plonk magazine, in which case you'll be hanging around the spit bucket, Alba offers you the chance to sit, breathe and taste and enjoy wines in the way they were intended to  be enjoyed, to complement the local dishes, to help you digest that steak.

I tasted 40 different Barolos, some were over 15 years old and most younger, but all needed a good meal to express themselves properly. Am I saying that you can't just savor a good Barolo or Barbaresco by the fire with a cigar? Sure you can, but many of those I tasted were still tannic and mouth-puckeringly dry.

So where can you eat and drink? Vincafe is a good start in the main street. They have the most extensive wine list covering all the producers near Alba, and all the best producers from all around Italy's choice wine regions. In addition, and unusually for Italy, they have a good international choice as well, plus Champagne.

There's a video here on Alba, enjoy it.

Here you can spend the evenings enjoying the rich buffet that is included with your glass of wine after 6 p.m., and taste your way to heaven. They have recently added five very unique rooms to their offering, making it the perfect base. *I'm almost afraid to tell you my insider secret, for fear I won't be able to find a booking it will become so popular.

A small sampling of their huge wine list follows. *The wine list includes almost any grape that is worth mentioning, including Pinot Nero, Merlot, Riesling, Sangiovese. You name it, it's on there.