Post VinItaly meals
Relaxing in Genoa after a frustrating train journey from Verona having participated at the VinItaly dog and pony show. Italian known preponderancy for unpunctuality is legendary and we just made our connection for Genoa at Milan by the skin of our teeth despite having a theoretical 40-minute leeway.
Still a good way to relax, after a bit of impromptu shopping for zucchini, salsiccie and salad, was a simple meal, starting with the zucchini flowers stuffed with walnut and ricotta in a walnut sauce (why is it that you never buy courgettes in England with the flowers without having to pay the earth for them?) and to boot, they are so gross and bitter – yuk! Then the rest of the zucchini with salsiccie of tasty pork and halal lamb (Genoa is almost as multicultural as London) with a salad of radicchio, escarole, vine tomatoes and finocchi and a bit of the typical Genovese pasta – trofie (looking a bit like elver – all wriggly on the plate), all washed down with Roberto Voerzio’s Barolo Rocche dell’ Annunziata Torriglione 2000 ( I believe his first vintage since he bought his parcel in that vineyard). Decanted into a Barolo decanter – it was still a bit angular at the start, but as the evening wore on it got softer and softer – better and better with all the complex nuances of deep plummy fruit on the nose and on the palate. It would have been a lot better the next day if it had lasted that long but I am finishing the last centimetre in my glass as I write. This is 5 star stuff.
A bit of a change from last night where we ate at one of the supposedly best restaurants in Verona – the Michelin one-starred restaurant Ostaria “La Fontanina”. An odd place – it looked like one of those antique stores where all the furniture is cluttered up and so are the tables – Sonia had to get up from her seat in the middle of her meal to let the next door table out of their trapped environment! Quite Dickensian! The meal didn’t quite live up to the reputation – it was quite heavy – tradiizionale, as they would say. But the cinema was still there in true Italian fashion – the executive chef, nicely bronzed and looking like a latter day Douglas Fairbanks Jr., pencil moustache and all. Sonia’s four scallops with 4 sauces (lentil, potato, Jerusalem artichoke and marrow) was interesting enough but a bit overcooked, whilst my agnelotti (short tubular pasta) stuffed with a grana and black truffle paste and cream was tasty but a bit on the heavy side. Sonia’s main course of tranches of tuna with a mirepoix of vegetables was good enough but a little overcooked. Quite plainly done though. My filet of venison with some seared foie gras and a framboise sauce was on a different plane – perhaps the best dish of the evening, a good combination. The dessert we shared however – a liquorice creme brulée with a mint ice cream suffered from a lack of liquorice.
All in all, not a bad experience, but I could think of many one starred Michelin restaurants in the UK that would knock spots off this one, but this is a well-known and perennial problem with Michelin starred restaurants in Italy. €174 for two with a nice bottle of Sertolis Salis’s Valtellina Sforzato Canua 1998 at €35 was reasonable enough though without being exceptional value for money.