|3 September 2011 : Firenze, Italia jump to this page > > >|
Ristorante Alfredo across the Arno catches our eye; we know it's touristic and likely to be pricey, but it seems a reasonable expenditure, and so we cross the Ponte Vecchio through the herds of tourists gawking at the over-priced yet inferior jewelry, and find the ristorante. We are seated in a corner above the river, and immediately start ordering bottiglie d' acqua. We put away four, along with a beautiful braceaola, a superb caprese, and several other delights – not a bum dish. At the end of the meal we are happily full, but pleased to return to our room for a shower and a brief lie-down, because it's still hot out – just about 95 degrees.
|8 September 2011 : Siena-Assisi, Italia jump to this page > > >|
Asciano is barely on the map, and yet it offered up an amazing lunch. The food here is exceptional: fresh, innovative yet predictable, capable of satisfying our momentary whims. The special of the day was a Caprese of that day's Buffala Mozzarella and exceptional tomatoes. It should be noted that the food is fairly priced, and since we know that the produce is inexpensive, clearly the value is in the preparation.
|15 September 2011 : Lago di Como, Italia jump to this page > > >|
|25 September 2011 : Trieste jump to this page > > >|
two perfect plates from Ristorante Cittadicherso
...and, of course, a couple of the best local meals we can find.
But first, after a substantial wander during which we achieve most of our goals -- we're still looking for recordable CDs -- we stop by a local place for our morning capuccini. Trieste is renowned throughout Europe as the locale for great coffee ... and these were good capuccini. A little neighborhood dive, yet we are made to feel like family.
More wandering, and then lunch at a nearly invisible but practically perfect little restaurant near our apartment, where we are served an exquisite lunch amid all the pomp and circumstance of a proper Italian meal: a selection of fresh roasted seafood on the left, and a prawn with superfine fettucini in a fresh tomato and baby green bean sugo.
We are almost done with the top of Italy. I am moved to offer up some reflections on Italy and Italians here, on a special page that will undoubtedly be modified and expanded as we return to Southern Italy and I get time to think about what I have seen. I welcome your comments.
|27 September 2011 : Istria, Hravatska jump to this page > > >|
Part of my disappointment at Rovinj is that Istria hosts one of the great farm-to-table traditions in European food. It takes special carelessness to serve a bad meal. So when I poked my nose in this place, I heaved a great sigh of relief. The owner greeted me in Hravatskan, and I mumbled, "Hello, we'll return." "Good," she says, "Come back."
Up the hill, the usual Venetians walled village castle stuff. Mobs of French and German tour groups like herds of sheep. Obvious care on the part of the village's people to keep some dignity. The hill is crowned with a very fancy spa/resort called The Kastel, and I'll lay odds that is the town's salvation.
We do return, and are seated at a perfect table overlooking a verdant valley.
|11 October 2011 : Trani, Italy jump to this page > > >|
The images here are of four of five "Fantasies from Michele the Chef": Tuna barely cooked, peppered on the outside with smoked salt over baby string beans; baby octopi in a sage butter sauce; white fish whose name I forgot lightly braised with pickled this and that and rucola (arugula) on a skewer; potatoe and fish cakes with marinated pimento (what we call red pepper) -- each on a separate dish, each as painterly and perfect as one could wish, none more than a few perfect mouthfuls.
|14 October 2011 : Matera, Basilicata jump to this page > > >|
In the middle, up in the city square on top where a Saturday flea market was in session, we enjoyed our cappuccini and watched the people go by. On the second round, we stopped at a pasticiera, a salumeria, and a supermercato for lunch fixings, and ended up with two kinds of marinated onions ("local" with an interesting bitter taste and classically sweet), roasted eggplant and zucchini, olives, cacciocavalo cheese, the local fine grained cow's milk cheese, a wonderfully piggy little soppresata salami, and the juice of "five red fruits, the color of health!" The shopping is an adventure, because shopkeepers here usually don't encounter English-speaking foreigners, so I stumble along in Italian ...and get what I want!
|23 October 2011 : Vallelunga, Sicilia jump to this page > > >|
Far below, our locanda, and below the train tracks and road around the next hill to Case Vecchie. An easy land to fall in love with, at least at this time of year. But lunch is calling!
At one o'clock we are called to lunch in the dining room that seats twenty and that looks out on the view shown at the top of the page -- an ever-changing vista due to the play of the cloud shadows and sun on the terroire. Everything in the lunch comes from what you can see, our cook and care-taker Fina tells us: the carciofi and pomidori from right here on this land, the olive and wine from across the valley in Regaleali, the salsiccia and salumi from animals grazed on the farther hills and made by the salumeria in town, likewise the cheese from the sheep we passed on our way up to la tomba. For dessert, frutta di stagione, fruits of the season, enormous uve della tavola (table grapes), a gracefully mishapen pera (pear), and kiwi all from Regaleali ...and bananas from Ecuador. It is still a small world. Rochelle asks if this is decadent, to be so well cared for. I think not, at least not for today.
|5 April 2013 : Hilo, Big Island jump to this page > > >|
What do you do after a compressed hour of visual and emotional intensity? Well, we went back into Hilo, met up with Ethan Swift, our long-lost host, and then went into town for lunch. Along the way we stopped by the Big Island Visitor's Bureau and thanked Uncle George for his help and encouragement.
Lunch was at Cafe Pesto, an amazing example of food theater (and delicious food) in the midst of the chaos of an event that stretches Hilo beyond its breaking point. We enjoyed a salad with two lovely hunks of seared fresh Ahi, and a locally grown grass fed burger, Lilikoi juice (yum) and the best lemonade (made with lemongrass) ever.
Then home to primp for the Big Night (for us) at the Merrie Monarch Festival: Kahiko, the traditional dance, continued on the next page.
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