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Everything posted by pedalaforte

  1. I agree -- too many places, too little time (for me, at least) to try them all. Definitely copyright "gummy-bear gnocchi." It's a good one and I will steal it for sure if I ever get another freelance writing piece!
  2. Damn, this place sounded interesting. Too many other places to visit to give this one a shot, it seems! Great writeup. Thanks.
  3. I get you. In fact, I AM adding Montanara to my list for sure. Sounds like the kind of place I like! Thanks.
  4. Kai: I am one of the people who recommend Meloncello, and I'll say this (and not as a direct counter to your experience). I thought the food at Meloncello was great lunchtime trattoria food. That is, it was simple and straightforward and very good. Not Francescana by any means, nor do they try to be. And I know you are not suggesting that to be the case, but people go to these down-home trattorias (hmmm, plural of trattoria? Trattorii?) for quick-hit lunchtime fixes. And what drive?!!!!!! I do get that it is out of the way. I suggest it as a walk, not a drive, on the way to the walk up to San Luca church. It's a great walk to burn off some of those heavy Bologneses calories, and Meloncello is a good stop-off point on the way -- or way back. We did love the "family-operation" service. Very friendly place to us at all levels. But, of course, to each their own. I appreciate the feedback on all of these places, because I'm going back there!
  5. Sounds fantastic! Hmmm, two words I seem to be writing here more and more often. That is, so many places to eat, so little time in country. Is this near Busseto or Zibello? For some reason the name seems to ring a bell. Thanks.
  6. Every menu sounds fantastic! Perhaps we'll have to give it a go this year. Thanks for the prices. It's more than I was figuring (I have to pay for five of us), but it might be fun for a -- what was it Sampaguita called it? -- for a "blowout." BlowUP? Thanks. I love your writing (and thinking) style, even if we might disagree on food. Might, not do. Ciao.
  7. I'm asking, fortedei, not challenging definitely: (caveat: first, I don't speak fluent Italian, but I'm pretty good on food items) -- seems to me the menu is based in large part on early season greens and vegetables, in addition to all-season meats and sea stuff. No? A few odd things in there (strawberries, at least here in cold Utah, USA), but most of it seems pretty April-ish, especially given the maritime environs nearby. Again, I'm just wondering what you think. As I said earlier, I'm de-volved into liking places that are more down-home rustic, but this menu looked pretty drooly to me! And, to plug my selfish gene, where do you recommend in the area? So many choices, so little time ...
  8. Sounds extraordinary. In fact, was it too much? And, are you still alive after all that food! I saw your pictures -- these did not look like "small" plates. Thanks for the writeup. Very nicely done. I'm in Asti in mid-June, and we now usually head to the more down-home places these days. But this sure sounds fantastic for a complete blowout (blow up?) meal. Maybe I will have to reconsider. Grazie.
  9. Hmmmmm, imagine -- one MORE place to try in Piedmont! How many days of the year are there? How many restaurants in Piedmont. Lanterne Blu? Rosengana? Canon d'Oro? ... Ai Binari? Life is good.
  10. A quick reply: -- best gelato in Milan, that I had, at least: a place called Chocolat! We went out of our way to get there two times, as did our friends. Restaurants in Piedmont you're missing, perhaps (we might have different styles. I like smaller trattorias now, although I still do up the ante every so often): -- such as at Antine -- such as at Al Enoteca As for a step down in decor and presentation (and big drop in price) but not food quality -- Osteria dell-Unione, just down the road from Ciau di Tornavento -- Ostu d'Ajun in Castignito, small place, nice stuff -- Crota di Callos in Calosso, which also is the regional enoteca. Cheap wines. -- Vignaiola, near La Morra (Santa Maria). Great place, becoming found. -- in Barolo, hmmmm, is it Cantinetta, whcih was great (unless in is Cantinella. Damn.) -- In asti, go to Tacabanda for lunch. It's maybe 10-15 Euro for lunch, with a great, inexpensive wine list. Lots more!
  11. Best of luck, Chris. Yes, that is the Della Rossa we visited. Do take into consideration that "dress warmly" suggestion! We used scarves, gloces and hats in late November.
  12. Also, because they were recommended above, I will cut and paste info about Modena's Giusti and Acetaia Giorgio. Just my opinions, of course. I would return to both, expecially Giorgio! Do go to Modena for a day trip. Goodgle Acetaia Giorgio and set up an appointment. It will be a highlight of your trip. (Prices have gone up, as I look below. Ah, the world turns ...) ... Tuesday, Nov. 21 (Bologna-Modena-Bologna) Every day in Italy this trip was magical, but some reached mythic status. We took the morning train to Modena to visit a family-owned balsamic acetaia, Acetaia Giorgio, where they’ve been making the stuff for five generations. Aceto balsamico tradizionale (and it is the “tradizionale” part that is the important, distinguishing part) is just one more in the list of unbelievably perfect foods of Italy. Some day (today, this morning, right now would be a good time) you have to try this stuff, the real stuff, that is. There are only 60 producers allowed, and they are extremely closely regulated. Only vinegars judged good enough by a panel of experts are allowed bottling. Small, controlled production. But the taste! We tried five samplings dripped on to little spoons given to each of us. No, dripped slower than you’re imagining. It was a cold morning, and the vinegars oozed out more slowly than molasses on valium. We just melted with surprise at how different and how profound each was. 12-year=$65. 25-year=$105. 25-year, cherry wood=$145. 25-year, juniper wood=$190. For 100 ml! That’s a fuzzless tennis ball with a neck. And that’s the only size and shape of bottle allowed, so if you don’t see that bottle, it’s not the product. Don’t pass up a chance to visit this place. Giovanna and Giorgio are gracious hosts whose passions are tied deeply to tradition, family and, not least, flawless gustatory extravagance. We expected lunch in Modena to be one of the treats of the trip. We had reservations for one of Giusti’s four tables stuffed behind the curtain and down the hall of the family’s real business, a salumeria. I have to be careful here. I want you to know that the food here – and the pleasant service – was exceptional at every level. Beautiful Mom, son, daughter all served us or cooked for us, and they did an equally beautiful job. In fact, I think I had MY best bite (perhaps) of the trip at this place – a main-course cotechino with zabaione that was a perfect blend of spicy and sweet. Every bit of food, to be honest, was great. So why am I pausing so foolishly about naming it must-stop? Maybe it’s a case of "must-stop-everywhere" syndrome. That is, we had so many other food experiences on this visit that matched this one that I wouldn’t single it out as a here-first-at-all-costs. I’m sure it’s my fault for reading all the reviews and building this mental picture of a quaint, rustic, grizzled place; then when you actually see the movie (or read the book) there’s a bit of a letdown when the star is short instead of tall or redhead instead of brunette. Nothing not great about short or redhead or this famous restaurant, it’s just not the package you envisioned, however somebody-else’s perfect it may be. Back in Bologna, we needed vegetables/salad, and we went to a jazzy wine bar for dinner to eat light, drink lighter and retire early after an introduction to music by Madeline Peyroux. Where have we been? ...
  13. I strongly second (or third) Trattoria Meloncello for lunch. For dinner, Trattoria Della Rosa. Definitely make reservations at Della Rosa. A quick cut-and-paste from my diary (I bold-faced the places listed above): ... Trattoria Meloncello was right next to the starting gate. We had planned to eat there anyway, but the place was packed. No tables, especially for five. When the owner told me “niente,” or something to that effect, my wife tells me my face sank so low that the woman took motherly pity and said, ah, wait five minutes. It was worth it. The food was all fantastic, but one memorable part of the day was the service. Here was a place with, as singer Greg Brown puts it, “all the love cooked in” to the food, and our server too fed us every ounce of his heart in passion-filled answers. He said “I speak the menu,” and we found it particularly interesting that, when we asked for an explanation of a dish, he had to put his note pad down to add hands-impassioned animation to his responses. This is to say nothing of the fact that one of our spouses – not mine, not yet – thought the young man exceptionally dashing. Yeah, well, maybe. But his sister was cute too, so there. This is an excellent place, family owned, with good, inexpensive food, a local clientele and magic for free. That night we ate at a Slow Food snail place, Trattoria del Rosso, not to be confused with the Ristorante della Rosa, where we ate the next night, or Cascina della Rosa, where we are scheduled to stay in June. The food was both great and OK. Real good was that it was real cheap. Real good also were these things called crescintini, which are fried puffy dough balls filled, in this case, with squaquerone cheese, and on the side this fantastic dip/cheese/goo that was stracchino cheese with, I think, milk mixed in. Eat these. They also had an array of great vegetables, roasted mostly, but some caramelized, like onions, which should be. We got two desserts: the worst panna cotta since panna has been cotta-ed, and the best mascarpone mush with blackberries. Blackberries? Slow Food, local, regional? Who knows. But it sure was yummy. Monday, Nov. 19 (Bologna) Our first market day, starting right outside our door. Where did they all come from since last night? We had our morning cappuccino at the same café as yesterday on Piazza Maggiore, with the same shaved-head, dramatic barista in the orange bow tie over whom our wives drooled yet again. What is it with women and these Italian men? In my first-year, 100-word Italian I tried to tell him that our wives loved him: “Le nostre moglie … loro … uh … ‘amore’ … tuo. Tuo, no?” To which he said: “huh,” in Italian. I understood. One of his co-workers got it, and when he explained, coffee king seemed surprisingly embarrassed, but I did note that he flipped the coffee cups just a bit higher and a little quicker on the next round. We weren’t only eating this trip, so we did make two noteworthy stops: (1) at the Artiginnasio to see its amazing, intricate, anatomical wood carvings that cover the walls of a 15th century medical school classroom. Mesmerizing. And, (2), at the small church, Santa Maria della Vita, to see a unique pieta by sculptor Nicolo del Arco, who crafted a life-sized series of seven terra cotta figures in various and expressive stages of remorse. Isn’t death brilliant in stone under dimly lit alcoves. We snagged a bunch of take-out grub for lunch at lively Tamburini, then walked down the street to eat outside in the beautiful, quiet square at Santo Stefano church, with music by the resident crazed homeless preacher with all the answers. Of course, I can’t remember having any questions, but his answers were charmingly free. On the way back to the hotel, we had our first gelato at a place called da Gianni. Crema was the best. Everyone was kind of listless and wanting a break, perhaps hoping to store energy for the evening’s planned culinary debauchery, so we went back to the hotel. But as soon as I sat down, I kept hearing the clock ticking off seconds from our too-short 10-day itinerary, so I ran over to the famous twin towers to do some climbing. I’m a sucker for dungeony, claustrophobic staircases, and this was a good one, with the light of a drizzly dusk just kicking in dramatic effects for photo opps at the top. I’m boring myself here. I sound like a tourist. Damnit. I am. Dinner at Trattoria della Rosa was one of the highlight meals of a highlight-meal trip. I got my trip nickname, Morty, there, and we christened Wendy with her name, Della. Get it, mortadella. I loved mortadella; Wendy – and everyone else it seems – hated it. “I know it’s not baloney, but do you think they can cram any more chunks of blubbery fat into one hunk of churned meat?” Cheryl could never get past the baloney and ketchup on white wonder she was fed one lunch time long ago while fighting forest fires in Utah. We met on a fire in Utah. Not the notorious baloney-ketchup fire, which was lucky for the forest’s community of trees. Baloney and ketchup? I would have let it burn and torched the town, too, for that indiscretion. Della Rosa has a showman owner, never without spark and not shy about offering witty barbs and commentary. He had good reason to be cocky, if that’s what his personality was. Appetizers, including culatello and mortadella, were great, in particular a tuna and sea bass dish. Also in particular a prosecco, dish-in-a-glass starter that returned later as a finisher. We ordered several different vegetarian first courses, and when he got to me he said: “vegetarian, vegetarian, vegetarian, vegetarian – you, meat.” But which one, per favore? You know you’ve selected well, when the owner just shrugs and simply says “ragu Bolognese,” as if “of course you want our classic.” This was a playful place, and we laughed even when they brought my vegetarian wife a plate of meat, veal even, by accident; we debated whether or not it was an accident at all when the owner Emmanuele told Tammy at final hugs: “You eat some meat now!” That was after he kept returning to our table to feed us dessert moscato, then more prosecco. We loved this restaurant at every level. Cheryl says it was her favorite of the trip, and she might be right. It certainly was “the best so far,” that evening anyway. ...
  14. I always pitch Oleggio as the most convenient place to stay. It's 10-15 minutes in the morning on a back road with no traffic. And, staying there will get youo access to Il Gatto e Le Volpe, in Oleggio, a SlowFood place first recommended by Tim at Villa Sampaguita. He's a regular here. This is a great place the one time we went. Also, the palce to stay: I've change dmy mind over the years. Now I stay at the Oleggio Ramada. It's kind of new-look upscale. But it's really nice and convenient for airport access. A clean good place to stay on the last night. There are some real dogs in Oleggio. Also #2, there's a cheap pizza place right on the main square in Old Oleggio centro. There are two. Go tot he good one, on teh right . Hmmmm, "right." Anyway, it's smaller and older than the other one.
  15. Thanks for the update. More bikes in the photos! Although food and wine are parallel pinnacles of a cycling-Italy trip. Just reserved hotels for June '09 trip. So it's happening. Trento, Bolzano, Bormio. Meet you at the Hotel America June 21, 9 a.m. for ride #1! It's a good one. Cheers And, does anyone know restaurants in Bolzano that have some magic? Our favorite from a trip past changed owners and went downhill (Baussenhausel?). This past June we took some stabs out of the air and were rewarded with nothing memorable.
  16. The "stern stuff" I own is all words, which come cheap. Join in. Here's what I do: I talk about all these steep passes, but you don't think we ever actually ride them do you? Nah, we just look at the maps and point, then head into town and order pizzocheri, or some other fat-laden delicacy easily washed down with the local nebbiolo. Yes, cycling is easy. Do join. As for the walkie talkies? Good idea. My friends and I just did the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands NAtional Park -- a 3-4 day mountain bike ride with 4WD vehicle support. One friend suggested that when we have to drive the two sags, he could supply us with walkie talkies to converse back and forth. ... to which my other friend and I laughed and said someting rude like: "um, I'm out here to ESCAPE cell phones, blackberries and all things gadget-y. I want quiet." I'm kidding, of course. They sound like a great idea for emergencies, and I'm getting some for the next trip. Really. Cheers
  17. See? That's the problem then: MORE Punt e Mes, not less! Imiss Asti, which I think I now like even more than Alba (Hmmmm, which I love), so I'll keep your restaurant recommendation in mind for our next trip. Always plotting to get back. Fortedei: We rode the Sella-Gardena-Campolongo-Pordoi route in June. Stunning. And I stayed in Canazei three nights on another cycling excursion during whihc we got rained on a lot. But it was early season. I do love those hills, including Fedaia, and I always wanted to do the Staulanza and Duran loop from ... from ... ? I don't remember; it's near Giau. This time we WILL be doing the Sella loop again, but as a day trip from Bolzano. We also will ride Gavia, Stelvio, and Mortirolo on consecutive days following the Sella loop day. Before that -- from Trento -- we will ride Bondone, passo Bordala (a hidden gem) and a loop from Levco Terme that includes the Inghiaie and then on to Asiago then back through passo Vezzena. These are incredible roads, too, as are those up north more. But some of these are the hidden treasures -- NO traffic, narrow lanes, steeep beasts, nekkid women. Well, maybe not the nekkid women. June. Come along!
  18. My three favorite Italy-blog people all on at once! I'm now plotting another June '09 cycling trip but to the northeast mountains again: Trento, Bolzano, Bormio. C Ed, just anecdotal, but I have a funny story from when we rode through Zanco this past June and knocked on your door. We almost lost one of our fellow cyclists at that intersection near Da Maria (and he didn't have a map, OR have any idea where we were or where we were headed!). We had all bombed down that hill you took us from Musisengo toward Zanco, but John thought someone was still behind, so he waited. But he was last. So when he followed and got to that intersection at Da Maria -- where we turned right to Zanco --- he sat there for a while, then TURNED around to go back to Murisengo, back up the hill thinking we went a different way. Well, we were at the Punt e' Mes Church in Zanco, when someone asked, "um, where's John?" (Thre were nine of us and we didn't miss him at first.) Damn. I told everyone to wait and not move, rode all the way back to the intersection, and stood wondering which way he might have gone. The only reason I'm telling you this: The guy who owns Da Maria pops his head out the window and asks if I'm looking for a cyclist in a ??? jersey. Yep. He saw John standing there ... alone ... wondering ... then watched him ride the wrong way. Glad he saw him, and more glad he saw ME and told. Me. So I rode back up the Murisengo hill and found him. And all is well. That day we rode from Frinco along the highline small roads through Montechiaro, Cortanze and on to Cocconato, then looped through Murisengo by way of Tuffo and Cortanieto and on to Zanco and then finally up to Tonco where the local priest blessed us for the long ride downhill home. Tim: Tacabanda and Pompa Magna were both closed (Monday), and it was pouring rain. But we ate at your Angelo del Beatto. Lucky I had your recommendations from before anchored inside my head somewhere. Great place! Long story, I know. Just chatting! Cheers.
  19. How was the trip? I haven't been here for a while, so I missed the initial post. I've cycled a bunch in Trentino, Alto Adige, and used the trains at a couple of points. I assume you've had your questions answered. No? Headin back again next June (2009). Can't stay away.
  20. We were at Tre Colli in June, but it was for lunch and, in fact, for a light lunch as we were on bicycles. But it was beautiful on the patio, and the food was excellent. We only had some appetizers and pasta/risotto, but everything was fantastic -- and purty. They were kind also to allow our sweaty bodies in the place!
  21. I'm in the "here" camp. That is, I don't know of any great, up-to-date food guides. There might be one, some even. But here, once you know whom to trust, you can get the latest info about the specific places you might like. I'm not the end all of anything, but I did just visit Piedmont twice for extended periods each time. I have some recommendations there, if you'd like. And other here are much, much more expert than I, and they can offer ideas. Good luck. SOunds fun. (Read Burton Anderson's "Treasures of the Italian Table." It's getting old, but it is a great book about the food culture of some Italy's seminal foods.
  22. Wait! You're IN Umbria. We will ALWAYS be jealous and pay you mind!
  23. I'll ask when I get there one week from now! You know, of course, that I went in late November -- not the best of truffle years but extremely enjoyable nonetheless. And, we had our fill! I'd guess that the rains would have to come closer to the harvest to affect the things, but it's only a guess. That is, wet brings 'em out, and since they aren't going to come out now, the effect would be minimal. No? Are you heading back? Ciao
  24. Man: Thanks for the Trento info. I love you recommendations and we'll try them. We will have a car, and should get to Fior di Roccia and to 2 Camini, although I wonder about the winding drive back after some vino. We will probably do the "designated driver" thing, but are these places a torturous drive back to Trento after a good evening out? We have to eat "dinner" as opposed to lunches as we are cycling during the days. (Can't stomach that good gnocchi before continuing rides!). SOunds like we should hit Vecchia Sorni also; is this a reasonable drive too? And, finally, any one or two picks in Trento itself for those days when we just don't want to go anywhere near our car? I love Trento itself. Plotkin (sounds like he was rong on the Civezzano place!) recommends a trattoria that caters to climbers and cyclists. Have yo been there? Some days we definitely are into just stuffing in cheese/bread/salami/primi/low-budget-red!, so any of these more raucous places come to mind? Thanks, thanks, thanks. YOur site is fantastic.
  25. Thanks, man. I've been told elswwhere that it might me "meadow salsify," or salsifice. I'm going back there in two weeks. Maybe I'll see some more. By the way, after Piemonte for a week, we also will be staying in Trento for six days and then Bolzano for two. I am going to wear out your restaurant recommendations that I saved long ago from your great site. Thanks. If you have any updates, please, I'm open ears! We will have 9-10 people, so we're looking for probably less formal places. Thanks for the response. Be well.
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