Friday, November 5, 2010

Last Day in Italy Before Going Home

 The Locanda Vigna Ilaria is different from other hotels where we have stayed since it is primarily a restaurant and secondly a hotel. 

The breakfast is an extra, € 9 per person and is served at the late hour of 9:30 am.  This was ok with us since we were staying 2 nights and weren’t traveling anywhere in this rain.  Besides, judging from the unique dinner menu the night before, breakfast promised to be a special event and it was:

Goblet of fresh fruit
Freshly baked miniature rolls
Goat cheese, salami
Butter and 2 kinds of marmalade
Orange juice and the most incredible cappuccino

The second morning’s breakfast varied a little from the first with the addition of: Egg en cocotte, Prosciutto from the Tuscan Cinta Senese (black pig with a white belt), Homemade pastry cream served  with the cornettos, Pecorino with herbs instead of goat cheese

After breakfast, still pouring down rain, we took a short drive along the Strada del Vino and enjoyed the colorful countryside with the changing leaves of the trees and grapevines.  The olive trees still have their olives but the picking will begin soon as the catch nets are in place for the 2010 olive harvest.

Except for this morning foray, we hung out at the hotel and ended up having the food experience of a lifetime.  The Truffle man arrived with a styrofoam box – Fall is truffle harvesting time in Italy.  Lucca has a white truffle that does not have the reputation of the Alba truffle because they are mild but still very tasty and as a result, less expensive.  Rob watched and photographed as the truffle man weighed out 3 truffles and money was exchanged.  We have no idea of how much they were but on the menu it says they are priced at an extra € 3 per gram.  I entertained thoughts about bringing some back but decided to simply enjoy the moment.  

On our second evening we came down early for dinner and settled in at our preferred table by the fire and watched Andrea’s father shaking and roasting chestnuts in a long handled pan punctured with small holes in the bottom.

The chestnuts were then dumped onto a tablecloth on the floor to cool.  We were brought a plate with the cooled chestnuts and wipes for the charcoal that accumulated on our fingers.

Dinner was:
Forest and Field Salad (picked by forager, Lia), Seafood soup, Fillet of branzino over sautéed seasonal vegetables with slivers of white truffle strewn on top, Bottle of crisp white local Italian wine

We ended up eating for 2½ hours having short talks with Stefano, Andrea’s brother and our server, who was leaving for London the next day.  He wants to improve his English and work in an Italian restaurant, and maybe even in the United States.  We suggested he come to Tucson and  stay with us for 3 months (the maximum time of stay for a foreigner) – we agreed to keep in touch.

One more interesting aspect about Andrea’s restaurant is that he does not charge a coperto, for bread basket and linen, which is a common charge in all Italian restaurants.  We have paid as much as a € 5 coperto pp in Chianti which is outrageous.  He also doesn’t charge for bottled water, a pitcher of tap water is brought to each table.  Andrea says that an after dinner coffee is also included in the price.  He desperately wants to be in the Slow Food Italy travel book but they have told him his prices are too high.  Considering he doesn’t charge for all these extras, the bill seemed very reasonable to us.

So ended our 3 week Gourmettravelers adventure to London and Italy.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so jealous. I want to start vacationing with you two!!! :)