Wordpress Themes

JEFF KOEHLER

  • writer
  • photographer
  • cook
  • traveler
September 10th, 2007

savor: Italy/ Piemonte

TRATTORIA - ENOTECA LA BELLA ROSIN
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, n. 3
14036 Moncalvo
39/0141.916.098
www.labellarosin.it

Last autumn I stayed at Tenuta Guazzaura, a 300-year-old country estate of the Count Brondelli di Brondello in Piemonte. It’s a working farm – wine, wheat, soy, etc – and some rooms in one of the outbuildings have been converted for guest use. (The rooms are large, with a kitchen stocked with Illy coffee, cheeses, butter, homemade jams, fresh juice, and so on; one of the farmhands stops by the village bakery on the way to the farm in the morning and leaves fresh pastries and breads hanging on the door in a cloth sack.) The owners – Luca and his Austrian wife, Helen – are young and charming, welcoming, and ideal sources of local info. For dinner they sent me up to the nearby hilltown of Moncalvo for dinner at one of their favorite places, La Bella Rosin. Set in a recently refurbished 17th century bodega on the main square, it’s a sophisticated space – the design is elegant (brick arches, painted yellow walls), the wine list extensive (600 options, all selected by a panel), and the menu limited but interesting options – vitello tonnato all’antica maniera, cold duck salad, agnolotti piemontesi al sugo d’arrosto, etc. But that first visit I was there for white truffles. The season was just beginning (I had spent afternoon walking the fields of Tenuta Guarzzaura with dogs), and the enoteca offered them in two ways: shaved over the top of a plate of fresh tagliolini or steak tartar. I opted for the pasta with a bottle of lush Barbera d’Alba. There is nothing as simple, nor extravagant, than that for dinner. Nor as perfect.
Where to stay: Tenuta Guazzaura, Fraz. Madonnina, 15020 Serralunga di Crea. Tel: 39/0142.940.289. www.guazzaura.it

Posted by jeffkoehler in  savor: Italy  |  Comment now »

August 15th, 2007

savor: Italy/ Trapani, Sicily

CANTINA SICILIANA
Via Giudecca, 36
Trapani
39/0923.28.673
www.cantinasiciliana.it

This unassuming cantina from the 1950s offers the city’s best traditional, Trapani-style couscous with fish broth (flavored with bay leaves and cinnamon). They top it with some perfectly prepared calamari fritti. Since 1980 it has been in the hands of Pino Maggiore, a frequent and important Slow Food collaborator.
Start with: bruschette con bottarga, thin slices of salted and pressed tuna roe.
If you’re still hungry after the couscous: pesce spada alla pantesca, swordfish with tomatoes, capers, oregano, and crushed almonds.

Posted by jeffkoehler in  savor: Italy  |  Comment now »

August 15th, 2007

savor: Italy/ Trapani, Sicily

AI LUMI TAVERNETTA
Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 71/75
Trapani
39/0923.872.418
www.ailumi.it

A delightful, lively tavernetta in the center of Trapani. Built in the stable of an 18th century palace, it’s stylish blend of tradition and modern elegance, with perfectly turned local dishes such as pasta con il pesto trapanese, a local pesto made tomatoes, garlic, basil, and almonds, and sardines stuffed. An ideal place to have dinner.
Exquisite: pasta stuffed with green pesto, shrimp, and sea urchin.
Where to stay: Ai Lumi, it’s also a bed and breakfast.

Posted by jeffkoehler in  savor: Italy  |  Comment now »

August 15th, 2007

savor: Italy/ Palermo, Sicily

DA SARIDDU E FIGLI
Piazza Mondello, 48
Mondello
39/091.451.922

Palermo residents head to this simple trattoria in the seaside resort of Mondello west of the city for ricci (sea urchin) – either eaten alone, in risotto, or with spaghetti. The ricci come from the nearby island of Favignana.
Bus number: 806 from Palermo’s center takes you there.
Make the journey for: spaghetti alla ricci.
Start with: the large fasolaro clams eaten raw.

Posted by jeffkoehler in  savor: Italy  |  Comment now »

August 15th, 2007

savor: Italy/ Palermo, Sicily

PASTICCERIA ALBA
Piazza Don Bosco, 7
Palermo
39/91.309.016
www.baralba.it

Ask where to eat the best arancine - fried balls of rice the size of small oranges and often stuffed with cheese or ragù – and nearly all of Palermo will direct you to the 150-year old Pasticceria Alba. There is a small place to sit outside to eat, but it’s mainly take away, with a massive selection of sweet Sicilian pastries like casata. Large, always busy.
Don’t want to leave your hotel: call their “Arancina Taxi” that will deliver arancine to your room.
Ice cream: is eaten in a bun of brioche.

Posted by jeffkoehler in  savor: Italy  |  Comment now »

August 15th, 2007

savor: Italy/ Palermo, Sicily

MINÀ
Via Pannieri, 28
Palermo
39/091.585.168

At the entrance of Palermo’s legendary Vucciria market is a small friggitoria that specializes in panelle, fried fritters made with chickpea flour. They also sell excellent crocche, potato croquettes (they have mint inside them in the summer months when the herb is plentiful), and slices of grilled eggplant with olive oil, salt, and a sprinkling of parsley.
Owner: Francesco Paulo Minà. Ask him anything about the Palermo food scene.
The man in the framed photo that looks like Francesco: the father, who open Minà in 1934.
Ideal mid-morning snack: a sandwich of panelle and baby octopus.
Six steps: and you are inside the Vucciria market.

Posted by jeffkoehler in  savor: Italy  |  Comment now »

August 15th, 2007

savor: Italy/ Vercelli

RISTORANTE TRE RE
Via Tasso, 16
Borgo Vercelli
39/0161.32.110

Family style place just to the south of Vercelli among rice fields. You’d drive by at lunch time if it weren’t for the packed parking lot. Big space, long tables, impossibly crowded and noisy on weekends with a blaring TV, people eating and talking on cell phones (at the same time), kids dashing about, and waitresses refilling plates from large platters of rice, pasta, grilled meats… No menu that I have seen. Just sit down and devour the courses as they come.
Their specialty: panissa.

Posted by jeffkoehler in  savor: Italy  |  Comment now »

August 15th, 2007

savor: Italy/ Vercelli

RISTORANTE BALIN
Fraz. Castell’ Apertole, 6
Livorno Ferraris
39/0161.47.121
www.balinrist.it

Found in a tiny village among rice fields south of Vercelli, Balin draws people from the cites around for its superb, country-style risottos. Owner Angelo Silvestro is a funny, generous, and talented chef who works his magic with the help of his wife and daughter. (He gives demonstration on Italian TV and around the world in making risotto.) The most impressive risotto is a wheeled out in a great wheel of local Gran Padano and then mixed gently scraping away at the cheese sides, and then ladled to the plate. Heaven!
The restaurant’s other specialty: the small gray-green frogs that fill the rice fields.

Posted by jeffkoehler in  savor: Italy  |  Comment now »

All text and images are ©Jeff Koehler 2007-2009 and cannot be used without his written permission.