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Gianfranco Vissani


hathor
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This guy is hot stuff in Umbria. I know his name, I know he has a restaurant and a TV show on Sunday...but that's about it.

What can you tell me about Vissani?

I've been reading a cookbook of his and the photography is ....off putting. Silly photos that are so obviously doctored that it makes me wonder.....

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Well, I should get out a little more often!

Swiss Chef just posted a listing of top Italian restaurants and Vissani is at the top of the list.

I've been stuck inside my medieval walls for toooo long..... time to go for a little giro!

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Our only visit was very poor, and it was the strangest atmosphere of any Italian restaurant I have ever seen--locked gateway, Vissani's bizarre son as host, absolute inflexibility on the menu although we were also the only ones in the restaurant on a Saturday lunch.

However, friends I trust insist that it can be very good. Vissani spends no time perfecting dishes--he just dashes off an idea for the day, and that's it.

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I had a very disappointing lunch at Vissani in July 2006. I had their set menu for 100 Euros and there wasn't much of a choice. Here's what my notes say about the meal: I liked the amuse of slices of raws corfano (scorpion fish) with a yellow tomato sauce and the offering of nice little rolls and grissini. The first course was a bouillabaise with three kinds of fish, anchovy tasting croutons, and bean sprouts. The types of fish were difficult to distinguish from one another. A good but not particularly distinctive dish. Next I had toretlloni alla Modena -- a substantial portion of the pasta with a very green spinach/ricotta filling. I liked this dish. The main course was coniglio (rabbit) -- slices of rib and a roulade with a rich puree of orange scented potato. The rabbit was dry and overcooked and even a bit tough. The taste wasn't bad, but quite disappointing for what is supposed to be one of Italy's best restaurants. I then had four pieces of cheese from the cheese cart. Not a particularly great selection, if I recall. (I had substituted the cheese course for the Baverese dessert that was listed on the menu). Coffee was then served with little pastries, good but not as good as other top restaurants in Italy. I had two glasses of wine with the meal -- a Roero Arneis and a Tuscan Merlot (not sure of the label) for a total of 30 Euros. Aqua minerale was 5 Euros and I was not charged for coffee for a second (unrequested) bottle of aqua minerale. The disappointing aspects of this meal were 1) the poor main course, 2) the lack of any real character or personality to the food, 3) the formal and somewhat indifferent service, even though there were only a few tables occupied, 4) the lack of choices. This was not a bad experience, just a disappointing one, very much in contrast say with a really fantastic meal several days prior at Osteria Francescana in Modena [leak tart, three great pasta dishes, their famous pamegiana five ways, suckling pig, great warm attention from the staff and chef], or a very good meal at Rosselinnis in Ravello some days later [caposante/blini appetizer, spaghetti with squid and tiny octopus, turbot with yellow split pea gazpacho, lamb with lavender]. All three of these are rated by Michelin as 'two stars' but Vissani was not at all at this standard the day I ate there.

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I was just wondering if the average gastro tourist coming to Italy is looking for traditional restaurants, or Super Chefs? As I read these forums it seems as though the majority are in pursuit of the latter. I find that the more I pay or the more a chef is written up, the more I expect, but in reality isn't there only so much you can do with food?

I find myself at a culinary crossroads. While I am interested in the creative new cutting-edge creations from world renowned chefs, I am also fascinated by the traditional preparations which have evolved over centuries, handed down from generation to generation and continually adjusted and perfected. The aromas emitted from the kitchen windows of my village make my mouth water so overwhelmingly fast, that it is hard for me to imagine how starred chefs can eclipse this. In fact I know they don't.

When I dine out nowadays it is usually at the less celebrated restaurants. I have been separated from a small fortune over the last 20 years in celebrated restaurants eating the food of famous chefs and I have to say on reflection, based on a purely emotional point of view, that I have had less satisfaction in these places than in my simple local restaurants. Not only is it more convenient on the pocketbook but more satisfying for the soul.

Throw away your guide books and ask the winemakers, butchers and pastry makers: "Who cooks well in the area?". The information you glean will be more accurate, current and passionate than any guide book and they will probably call and make reservations for you! :wink:

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I was just wondering if the average gastro tourist coming to Italy is looking for traditional restaurants, or Super Chefs? As I read these forums it seems as though the majority are in pursuit of the latter. I find that the more I pay or the more a chef is written up, the more I expect, but in reality isn't there only so much you can do with food?

I find myself at a culinary crossroads. While I am interested in the creative new cutting-edge creations from world renowned chefs, I am also fascinated by the traditional preparations which have evolved over centuries, handed down from generation to generation and continually adjusted and perfected. The aromas emitted from the kitchen windows of my village make my mouth water so overwhelmingly fast, that it is hard for me to imagine how starred chefs can eclipse this. In fact I know they don't.

When I dine out nowadays it is usually at the less celebrated restaurants. I have been separated from a small fortune over the last 20 years in celebrated restaurants eating the food of famous chefs and I have to say on reflection, based on a purely emotional point of view, that I have had less satisfaction in these places than in my simple local restaurants. Not only is it more convenient on the pocketbook but more satisfying for the soul.

Throw away your guide books and ask the winemakers, butchers and pastry makers: "Who cooks well in the area?". The information you glean will be more accurate, current and passionate than any guide book and they will probably call and make reservations for you!  :wink:

This should be a whole new thread: what is a Super Chef? Just a marketed brand? Boh.

I have had sublime meals at starred restaurants, tastes that I will never forget. So, I can't dismiss the top tier so easily. But, I'm a trattoria girl, at heart.

We are trying to achieve a casual elegance balance at our restaurant...good food with a relaxed, fun atmosphere, and it's a balancing act for sure.

As far as smells from the neighbor's windows...you bet! I'm all ears when Luciana tells me how she prepares her trout. Luciana is an older woman in town, who sprouts the most amazing white hairs from her chin mole....you know the type!

Now, after rambling, I guess what I'm saying is that their is room, and a time and place for all styles of cooking.

And now to go on topic: nothing here is convincing me to try Vissani.

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I was just wondering if the average gastro tourist coming to Italy is looking for traditional restaurants, or Super Chefs? As I read these forums it seems as though the majority are in pursuit of the latter. I find that the more I pay or the more a chef is written up, the more I expect, but in reality isn't there only so much you can do with food?

I find myself at a culinary crossroads. While I am interested in the creative new cutting-edge creations from world renowned chefs, I am also fascinated by the traditional preparations which have evolved over centuries, handed down from generation to generation and continually adjusted and perfected. The aromas emitted from the kitchen windows of my village make my mouth water so overwhelmingly fast, that it is hard for me to imagine how starred chefs can eclipse this. In fact I know they don't.

When I dine out nowadays it is usually at the less celebrated restaurants. I have been separated from a small fortune over the last 20 years in celebrated restaurants eating the food of famous chefs and I have to say on reflection, based on a purely emotional point of view, that I have had less satisfaction in these places than in my simple local restaurants. Not only is it more convenient on the pocketbook but more satisfying for the soul.

Throw away your guide books and ask the winemakers, butchers and pastry makers: "Who cooks well in the area?". The information you glean will be more accurate, current and passionate than any guide book and they will probably call and make reservations for you!  :wink:

Very interesting thoughts. In view of these thoughts, what would you think of a restaurant such as Uliassi which was reviewed by Tupac on August 29 in the thread of Eating In The Boot. Forget about some of his basic mistakes about food in this review and most of the others (Tupac, a scampo is a larger type of shrimp only in America, as in shrimp scampi). He has written a number of good long reviews about a certain type of restaurant... ones with up and coming star chefs doing cutting edge preparations (and using too much fruit in dishes; shades of The Inn At Little Washington), not at all traditional to the territory in which they reside. Are these appealing to you and if so why? Or, on the other hand, is it this type of restaurant that is, to paraphrase you, less satisfying for the soul. Could you give a few examples of restaurants/trattorias, outside of Piemonte that are to your taste.

Grazie.

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Very interesting thoughts. In view of these thoughts, what would you think of a restaurant such as Uliassi which was reviewed by Tupac on August 29 in the thread of Eating In The Boot. Forget about some of his basic mistakes about food in this review and most of the others (Tupac, a scampo is a larger type of shrimp only in America, as in shrimp scampi).

My understanding is that shrimp scampi is an Italian-American preparation of shrimp (garlic, butter, parsley, etc), not a type of shrimp. And scampi come only from other waters in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Adriatic, no? While I suppose "smaller lobster" (or the French "langoustine", or ) would have been more accurate than "larger shrimp", I figured it got the medium-sized-crustacean point across just the same.

I'd also love to know some of the basic mistakes about food I've been making. Please free me from the shackles of my ignorance.

I'm serious. I'd appreciate it.

He has written a number of good long reviews about a certain type of restaurant... ones with up and coming star chefs doing cutting edge preparations (and using too much fruit in dishes; shades of The Inn At Little Washington), not at all traditional to the territory in which they reside. [...]

If you are referring to Madonnina del Pascatore, then yes, I can see how, say, zabaglione dropped in liquid nitrogen is a far cry from being traditional to the area. But with the cuisine of other chefs working in a similar realm in, say, Emilia-Romagna (Bottura, Marchini, ecc.), I don't readily agree with your assertion that they stray so completely from the traditional cuisine of that region. If a hypothetical chef cooks the exact same ingredients sous vide that you would normally roast/braise/saute/grill/whatever, does that make his food immediately non-traditional? Would you say that tradition is based as much on the cooking technique as it is the end result, the actual taste of the dish?

I agree with Judith on this one. This calls for a new thread.

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Very interesting thoughts. In view of these thoughts, what would you think of a restaurant such as Uliassi which was reviewed by Tupac on August 29 in the thread of Eating In The Boot. Forget about some of his basic mistakes about food in this review and most of the others (Tupac, a scampo is a larger type of shrimp only in  America, as in shrimp scampi). He has written a number of good long reviews about a certain type of restaurant... ones with up and coming star chefs doing cutting edge preparations (and using too much fruit in dishes; shades of The Inn At Little Washington), not at all traditional to the territory in which they reside. Are these appealing to you and if so why? Or, on the other hand, is it this type of restaurant that is, to paraphrase you, less satisfying for the soul. Could you give a few examples of restaurants/trattorias, outside of Piemonte that are to your taste.

Grazie.

Hi Fortedei,

Perhaps I left the impression that the starred chefs have nothing to offer but in fact

I am very interested in the inventions of all chefs, famous and obscure, cutting edge and traditional. No one who loves food could not be. What I mean to say is that traditionally prepared food is equally as interesting and equally worth pursuing. In fact the type of cooking that I am trying to describe does not really exist in restaurants. I am speaking of preparations requiring hours and hours of hand work and equal time cooking. This type of food is not economical for a restaurant to make but is often practiced in homes, mostly by loving mothers for their family or for a special feast or wedding. In most cases food like this can't be bought and the recipes are either memorized or closely guarded.

This is the food I covet and I look for restaurants that try to practice this.

As for restaurants outside of Piedmont? Why eat outside of Piedmont? :laugh:

Really though, traditional restaurants are everywhere in Italy all you have to do is ask, but really great traditional restaurants are just as rare and Michelin stars.

We are very fortunate here in Zanco to have Da Maria which has been open since the 50's and has been continuously run by a mother and her two sons who would rather close the restaurant than alter one of their precious recipes. No fusion, no exotic imported spices just traditional food prepared the same way it has always been. 7 or 8 antipasties including carna cruda, a pasta course (usually homemade agnolotti), a roast course (usually rabbit or pork), local artisanal cheeses and dessert costs 25 euros. Most of the wines are between 10 and 15 euros.

Dinner usually includes a table visit and discussion with Georgio (the son that cooks) and a free grappa or two.

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OK, here's a new new thread

where we can talk about tradition and change.

Tupac, in Italy, scampi refers to the size and type of shrimp.

"Shrimp scampi" is an American dish. Just like spaghetti and meat balls is American.

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OK, here's a new new thread

where we can talk about tradition and change.

Tupac, in Italy, scampi refers to the size and type of shrimp.

"Shrimp scampi" is an American dish. Just like spaghetti and meat balls is American.

Hathor,

Sorry to disagree with your reply. Scampi has absolutely nothing to do with the size of a shrimp because it is not a shrimp. From Venice to San Remo, from North to South, scampi is scampi and shrimp is shrimp. Scampi is from the lobster family. In French, it is similar to langoustine. Gamberi is very similar to the French crevette, which are shrimp.

They are both crustaceans, but that is it... not similar in taste or texture.

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OK, here's a new new thread

where we can talk about tradition and change.

Tupac, in Italy, scampi refers to the size and type of shrimp.

"Shrimp scampi" is an American dish. Just like spaghetti and meat balls is American.

Hathor,

Sorry to disagree with your reply. Scampi has absolutely nothing to do with the size of a shrimp because it is not a shrimp. From Venice to San Remo, from North to South, scampi is scampi and shrimp is shrimp. Scampi is from the lobster family. In French, it is similar to langoustine. Gamberi is very similar to the French crevette, which are shrimp.

They are both crustaceans, but that is it... not similar in taste or texture.

You are absolutely right. But...to an American, it's a big shrimp with claws. What can I say? Americans can be silly sometimes. :blink:

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