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albiston

2004 Gambero Rosso Restaurants

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By the way if you read some of the comments you'll find that a lot of people wanted to change some part of the recipe or one of the ingredients. When I think back on it I was not overbearing enough!You could change the amount of reggiano to two cups instead of three but other than that everything must stay the same.

Also I hand carried on "blue ice" in a plane fresh gorgonzola en malga from a cheese shop in the Bologna market along with a 3 kilo chunk of reggiano which was moist on the inside. When I got home, about 14 hours after buying it I made this. It was incredible. Still, if you can find Mauri brand this is as good. I've also made this with various combinations of quattro fromaggio and many different kinds of individual cheese including eppousses (sp?)(it was interesting, "eppousses risotto""). This is still the best and the greatest deph of flavor.

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You must of gotten this recipe from the "Heart Association Cookbook". The amount of cheese vs. rice is astounding. I don't see how this could be called a 'risotto' as the flavor of the rice must be buried under all that cheese. However with all that gorgonzola, parmigiano and butter it could be a great cheese dish.

Also -

1. Only 2 cups of stock for 1lb. rice? It just doesn't sound possible to cook the rice to even an al dente stage.

2. Why do you use olive oil for the soffrito and then follow it up with all that butter. For me the olive oil makes the risotto too - well oily.

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After visits to both Dal Forno (incredibly hospitable and friendly) and Le Calandre last week I am now convinced that:

1. Le Calandre based on their one month old "Winter" prix fixe is the best restaurant in Italy.

2. Romano Dal Forno's 1997 Amarone is the greatest wine I have ever tasted. Certainly it has the greatest nose. We were fortunate to also taste his 2000 and 2001 Amarone and Valpolicella from the barrels. Four nights in a row I drank his Valpolicella in restaurants, before, during and after meals. Regardless of how and when it should be drank this-for me-is a great wine. At 70 to 75 Euros in most restaurants I also regard it as a bargain. Earlier tonight three friends of mine and I shared one of the bottles I brought back with a triple creme. Yes, the pairing was better than with dinner. Still, this wine is so delicious, so enjoyable I already miss it-and I just put the glass down!

His approach to drinking the amarone is interesting: open the bottle, put the cork back in and reopen it a day later, serving it at room temperature. We did this with a bottle of the '97 although it was still really too young. (A note: he has magnums and double magnums aging in his cellar that will be released in three more years; he also personally considers his '98 to be the best he has made.) Still, after thirty years of drinking more wine than I should have this is the (pick your adjective) most enjoyable red wine I have ever tasted. I also brought back four bottles of the Recioto,the firs of which I will open on Christmas Day. Additionally, he makes a sweet white dessert wine of which I have only one bottle. Nettare Annata 1995. I have the impression that this may the most special of all of his wine, certainly the smallest production. In any event I've put it away for ten years or so with the two bottles of '97 Amarone that I brought back. A note here: I also brought back some Quintarelli Valpolicella and we tasted this along with the Dal Forno this evening. Delicious. Still it pales next to the Dal Forno. In Verona Dal Forno Amarone was going for 260 Euros for the '97. He sells it at his winery for less. Much less. with a two bottle limit. But I suspect that for the most part this is only to the few that visit.

Le Calandre has just evolved so much from my first visit five or six years ago. He now features an eight course chocolate dessert that is jaw dropping in its presentation. The centerpiece is a small dish of White Alba truffle....gelato, made from white truffle puree. Fish and chips Venezia is served with a small glass of beer and instructions on when to drink it. The most incredible pasta fagiole (perhaps the dish of the night, too) with raw fresh shrimp and red arborio grains for crunch. Glasses were served with spoons and instructions to "dig to the bottom." One featured beef braised in Amarone, another veal and wild mushrooms. But even saying this is an injustice. Depth of flavor along with contrasting flavors playing off of each other. Smoked risotto made from Tenuta Castello Vialone Nano (which is also sold by Massimiliano is his adjacent store).

Based on last Dcember as well as this one meal which, including dessert and pre dessert and various amuse, stretched for 18 courses/tastes I now regard him as the chef who will take Italy to a level that previously was only reserved for the French and Spanish. Massimiliano, for me, can now challenge anyone in Europe.

When I think that he is charging 125 Euros while Ducasse, Vrinat, Gagnaire all push 300 Euros, Le Calandre is an actual bargain for the experience that is offered.

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I just received my GR 2004, and without having done a quantitative analysis yet, it appears that there has been systematic significant year to year inflation in the scores, driven largely by 1-2 point increases in the food scores. This raises questions about the significance of year to year comparisons. I wonder whether others have the same impression?

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Gambero Rosso has as much of a peculiar political/gastronomic agenda as Michelin does in its own way. And this goes both for tre forchette and for tre bicchieri. That is why so many in Italy are wary of it. I'd say it's even less reliable than Michelin in one sense: it's still playing the perennial rating-hike game, which Michelin has more or less abandoned, and thus keeping up the illusion that restaurants are improving all the time. Just my 2 eurocents'.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Le Calandre is up five points for this year in GR bring it more in line with Michelin's three stars.

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