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francesco

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Everything posted by francesco

  1. Why would a NY Italian restaurant serve cioppino? It is a regional dish, rather then specifically an ethnic one, and anyway I would imagine that there is quite a bit of variation in American-Italian and Italian-American food also. I would be surprised in the Italian population in the States was derived froma single geographic point and arrived at exactly the same time? ← Exactly: a NY Italian restaurant would not serve Cioppino in the same way that you wouldn't find Ciuppin in Naples or Palermo. There are quite clear and distinct immigration patterns from Italy to the US: very roughly southern Italians went to the east coast while Ligurians went to the bay area.
  2. If you go to Liguria you might find in several restaurants a fish soup called Ciuppin. Since much of the Italian immigration in San Francisco is of Ligurian origin, it's fair to say that Cioppino has an Italian antecedent and that it has a deserved place in the North Beach-Italian repertoire. It is inevitable that any fish soup made in a city which gets its fish from the Pacific Ocean will have significant difference from a fish soup with mediterranean fish.
  3. Almost. The saying seems to be written in some bastardised form of Genoese dialect and actually means: "Once foreigners taste pesto, they never want to leave Genoa anymore." Zena stands for Genoa in the local dialect which is called Zeneize.
  4. Vedat, for what it's worth, here are some positive comments about Pinchiorri. I have been twice to Pinchiorri and liked it a lot both times (the last one about 3-4 years ago, though). Incidentally, as you say, I have yet to find something positive said about it in a English-speaking forum and yet they seem to have a very international clientele and are one of the few high-end Italian restaurants that seem to have no problems in getting reservations (yes, it is in Florence, but still...). Anyway, I always found high prices, high quality service and very good food. I don't think that it matters very much that Annie Feolde no longer cooks, for some time they had Franck Cerutti heading the kitchen and he doesn't seem to be doing too badly at Louis XV. Also, I find the cuisine much more "italian" than people are willing to give it credit for. In the end I understand I am in a minority here and certainly accept that if some many discerning people have found it lacking then at the very least the place is volatile in its ability to deliver. Nevertheless, I still think it can deliver a very high quality experience. I certainly agree on Rochat and have never been at Chateauvieux but my one experience at Rabey was a nightmare. We went in the middle of summer and the restaurant was literally assaulted by flies. I remember us spending the whole time trying to get flies away from the food with barely an acknowledgement of the problem by the staff. I finally asked them to move us from our table and was told that it wouldn't have mattered because there were flies everywhere anyway. The food certainly wasn't bad but I remember not being blown away. I also remember choosing the surprise tasting menu and being served three different terrine dish one after the other including their amuse bouche. Now, if the menu has already two terrines, why give me more? Anyway, I am sure that the flies problem would have made the meal a nightmare even with the best cuisine in the world but it's a place that I certainly won't be able to persuade my wife to go to again. I remember the maitre'd spoke some Italian and was from somewhere in Eastern Europe, would that have been the one you're referring to? Francesco
  5. Vedat, to me this is, in a sense, good news. Flipot takes its inspiration from valdese cuisine which is much more a mountain cuisine than the langhe cuisine. As I understand it, they are actually quite unwilling to go very far from that tradition. The langhe cuisine, while certainly the most celebrated in Piedmont, is not Piedmontese cuisine, which doesn't exist. For example, if you go in the part of middle Piedmont that borders Lombardy then you get rice dishes that you won't find in the langhe. So, truffles are not part of the valdese cuisine and neither are tajarin. I find it extremely reassuring that a two michelin star restaurant in Piedmont chooses to stick to its roots so much that it doesn't want to serve dishes which don't belong to its tradition, no matter how popular they might be. I wasn't aware of it, and I too would have expected to see truffles on the menu but this tells me that they have a lot of integrity about what they are doing. (I don't quite believe a two-michelin star restaurant has problems selling truffles) Best, Francesco
  6. Post 191 in this same thread. ← Note to self: need more coffee in the morning! Thank you! Francesco
  7. Do you personally know these things to be untrue? Perhaps you can give the versions you witnessed, in that case. ← Pan, is there a parallel thread of which I am not aware? Where does this post from "FabulousFoodBabe" - to which you're replying - come from? francesco
  8. Since none of us who have reported on the restaurant took pictures of the place or the food, let me point to an Italian blog where there is a report of a visit to the restaurant with some pictures. vissani pictures Francesco
  9. It seems you had the "standard" Vissani experience of being in the dining room all by yourself while apparently I stumbled in one of those very rare occasions where the restaurant was full. I guess nobody would expect that being alone in a dining room could be anything less than unpleasant but I have read many other reviews that share your positive experience with the staff in such circumstances. Indeed this is exactly how we did it. I can also hardly think of a day better spent than on a visit to Orvieto followed by dinner at Vissani. I am really glad you liked it. The man is clearly mad at running a restaurant in that business environment which forces him to partecipate in TV programs about which the less said the better so I can't help but have some sympathy for him. Francesco
  10. Robert, the restaurant you are referring to is in a town called Maleo and the chef was Franco Colombani, one of the major figures in the revival of Italian restaurants in the 70s and 80s. It's still owned by the family but as you say it isn't considered nearly as good as it was then. The restaurant the "Corelli event" people went to is in Trebbo di Reno and is on the outskirts of Bologna. The kitchen is run by the Leoni brothers who started their careers at Igles Corelli's two-michelin star restaurant in Argenta and worked at Vissani for a considerable time. Francesco
  11. I must admit I was a bit surprised about this. I went about two years ago and found the cuisine good but nothing really earth-shattering. They were quite kind to us but also stingy on the truffles: we had just been a few days earlier at Guido on the very last night of the restaurant and the comparisons in terms of generosity on the plate was not flattering for Il Sorriso at all. In general, as Cy hints, they tend to be more expensive than one would expect. Gosh, how I miss Guido! Il Rigoletto Piazza Martiri, 29 42046 Reggiolo (RE) Tel: 0522 973520 Fax: 0522 973520 E-mail: ilrigoletto@ilrigoletto.it website: http://www.ilrigoletto.it Closed: June-Sept - sunday and monday lunch Oct-May - sunday evenings and mondays Best, Francesco
  12. I almost forgot. This is interesting because the chef at the Metropole is Corrado Fasolato who used to cook at La Siriola in Val Badia, is always tauted as one of the preeminent young chefs in Italy and is clearly the hotel's attempt to create a serious gastronomic restaurant in Venice, just like La Pergola in Rome. I looked at the menus posted online and they read like a menu you could find at Le Calandre. Obviously Cy thought the results were really different! Francesco
  13. Cy, I wish I could do what you've just done in Italy! Thank you for the additional details: incidentally, I checked Il Rigoletto's web site and it looks like the exact same menu you had is described online so as soon as I get a chance, I will try to fill in some of the gaps with the dishes' names and translate them in English. Villa Crespi's ascent as one of the elite restaurants in Italy has been meteoric to say the least and I was curious to see what a non-Italian made of it. Your report confirms that the chef can hold his own against the best the country can offer, which is clearly very good news. Thank you again. Francesco
  14. Cy, welcome back. I am happy to read that it seems to have been a positive experience overall. Anyway, egoistically, I would like to hear some more details about Arquade and Il Rigoletto because I am the one who insisted on them while at the same time I am curious about Villa Crespi because it is one of those restaurants that many in Italy seem to be talking about. Francesco
  15. Veronelli (who passed away last year) and Vissani, both men of strong character, had a egregious fight two-three years ago about frying oil, widely reported by the Italian press. Veronelli suporting the olive oil thesis and Vissani suggesting sunflower oil as a much better choice. I'm not sure if this was the main reason, but it could be a good explanation for this. ← Indeed, this is the reason. Veronelli essentially said that any chef who argued that sunflower oil was a better choice than olive oil for frying was incompetent. At the end, however, I am not sure whether it was Veronelli who didn't want Vissani in his guide anymore or viceversa whether Vissani didn't want to be in Veronelli's guide. Francesco
  16. I am from Rapallo and so is my wife and she looked at me in bewilderment as I read your post to her. Rapallo's dialect is essentially Genoese and significantly different from Provencal. In any case, with few exceptions, you will find that dialects will be more similar the closer the locations are, so that if Rapallo's dialect was similar to Provencal, even more so would be the dialects of any town or city between Rapallo and Provence, essentially the whole west part of Liguria, Genoa included. Which would mean that Provencal and Genoese are the same thing which they are aren't. The only exception to this rule would be if for some historical accident a colony of people from Provence had established itself in Rapallo and had managed to remain relatively isolated from the surrounding towns. This is clearly not the case. Perhaps your father's acquaintance found that he could manage to make himself understood in Marseille by speaking the dialect (Provencal is closer to Genoese than regular French is) and embellished it by claiming they were the same language. Francesco
  17. I just wanted to renew my appreciation for Igles, Pia and of course Alberto who made the session possible. I hope Igles and Pia will find the time to partecipate in the forum in the future. A visit to Ferrara and to the Locanda has long been in the back of my mind, so I hope that either by myself, or (even better) with fellow egulleteers, this will come true soon. Francesco
  18. Dear Igles and Pia, I am happy to see that many of the arguments you put forward do seem to coincide with my own view. I am one of those who are conducting a small battle on this forum on behalf of higher-end restaurants in Italy. The two of you with many of the colleagues you cite elsewhere are part of that "crazy" people category who have decided to give up easier profits in the pursuit of the defense of a piece of Italian gastronomic tradition and I think we should all be very grateful for that. I cannot agree more with you on the Italian public's attitude. Indeed in the quote that you cite about Italians and 55 million experts, the emphasis is on the fact that they *believe to be* rather than *are* experts. The true experts are unfortunately few and far between. I am particularly pleased to see that you cite with affection some of my "heroes" such as Cantarelli, Bergese and the Solari family. I was recently in a restaurant in Santa Margherita Ligure and I was very happy to discover very clear "traces" of Nino Bergese in the food (the chef trained with Mary Barale in Boves) so perhaps not all is lost The Solari family is very close to my heart for what they are doing for my beloved ligurian cuisine and for the fact that they really get little recognition. I visited them over Christmas and I hope to be able to write something about them and their restaurant if I get a chance because they really deserve it. Speaking of Cantarelli, I really do believe that what they did could be a model for the "Italian way" to gastronomic restaurants. I suspect the reason that this model did not really take off is that it would be difficult to gain any recognition from Michelin with a restaurant like that and without Michelin, gastronomic restaurants struggle to survive. What do you think? Thank you again. Francesco
  19. Igles and Pia, it is nice to have you both here and I would like to take the opportunity to ask if you could increase your regular presence here as I think it would really add much to the discussion. Within your very busy schedules of course! Also, I saw Melly and Franco Solari from Ca' Peo recently and mentioned that Pia occasionally writes on EGullet. They were very flattered that you chose to include a variation on one of Melly's classics (lattughe ripiene in brodo) in one of your books and asked me to say hi, if I came across Pia on EGullet so here it is! My question. There has been a series of discussions both here and in the Italian forums about the position of Italian high-end restaurants within the wider global haute-cuisine market. My personal opinion is that France matters because they are the masters of haute-cuisine, the US matters because of its sheer economic power, and Spain because there were few preconceptions attached to its cuisine and so a very creative approach has been well accepted by both the Spanish and the international public. In all of this Italy has probably the least busy haute cuisine restaurants. While you need sometimes months to get a reservation at the top US, Spanish or Franch restaurants, getting a table with few days notice in Italy is the norm. This is perhaps great for the customer but not so good for the restaurants themselves and might ultimately be a brake on the development of high end restaurants in Italy. I believe it all comes from preconceptions: we are the country of simple cuisine and simple restaurants and both (many) Italians and (many) visitors don't want "fancy" food in Italy. Do you agree? Is there something that could be done? Thank you for your time, Francesco
  20. I don't know about stores in Florence which might carry these, but both www.cibitalia.com and www.esperya.com should be able to help if you are stuck. Francesco
  21. Chef, I am very happy you chose to spend some time to satisfy our curiosity and would like to thank you in advance for your partecipation. The way you have organized each year's work seems to be entirely unique to you: you spend several months at El Taller perfecting a menu (plus variations) that will be offered the following season. Now, I would imagine that for a curious and creative intellect such as yours, this procedure risks making the restaurant a necessary evil rather than a pleasant part of the process because the creative phase at El Taller and the execution when the restaurant is open are kept entirely apart. Is the restaurant a necessity rather than a pleasure? If not, how do you manage to make working in the restaurant interesting to you? For example, do you make small changes to the dishes each evening to keep yourself interested, do you start to think about what you will do next season or do you find the simple process of executing the dishes rewarding in itself? Francesco
  22. He wasn't there when I went. Shame about the service but I would not have been too concerned about Vissani's absence. He is usually around on weekends, but has organized the kitchen to handle his frequent absences. The price is actually more reasonable nowadays. The price of a tasting menu was 250,000 liras 5 years ago, almost the same as it is now. So while everyone else really raised prices since, he stayed stable. This to me says that his pricing policy is due more to the restaurant's few punters and the need to break even than to "greed". Francesco Francesco
  23. Thanks, Moby. Site looks interesting but I'd be seeking further information/reassurance if I stumbled on it unrecommended. Have you used them? They don't say who they are, where they are (no telephone number, no address that I can find), who their sources or suppliers are, very little info to entice one to buy. And as we all know, taking the plunge to buying on line is always something of a leap of faith. We need, we crave information, for what we're buying in good measure is Trust. Would be interested to know more, but that said, I think I'll definitely have a pop at the foie gras. Cheers, Marc ← They are based in Bristol and mostly sell to the high-end restaurant business, especially in London. However, they also sell to the mail-order market and even direct if you go to their premises, near Bristol airport. I have no experience of the internet ordering system, but as I live in Bristol, I go regularly there to buy seafood and game and always found them to be quite good. Francesco
  24. It is a tough decision because and endorsement from the Cantarelli's son is something not to dismiss lightly at all. And, on the other hand, Mantova has such beautiful things to see that..... BTW, Reggiolo is quite close to Mantova, so perhaps the choice in not between Mantova and Il Rigoletto but between the latter and Aquila Nigra. Francesco
  25. I only have the new Gambero Rosso guide and there it gets a 79 with the following sub-scores: cuisine 46 cellar 17 service 7 ambiance 7 bonus 2 reading through the review, the cuisine seems be focused on a refined version of classic regional recipes. I have never heard of this place before. Don't get me wrong, but if it had some special reputation I probably would have heard of it. How did you come across it? As you probably know, in not-too-far Reggiolo, Il Rigoletto has just been awarded two stars and from what I hear the cuisine is quite good (if not perhaps at Perbellini's level): have you considered it? Francesco
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