Friday, June 10, 2011

Algiubagio and beans

Corte della Pazienza, June 10, 2011—
WE BEGIN TO CHOOSE eating places a little more carefully, as there's less than two weeks left. After a long futile walk this morning we found ourselves near San Zanipolo, not that far from the Fondamente Nove, where one of L.'s choices lay: so off we went in search of dinner.

It was a pretty hilarious meal, more because of our company at the next table than for any other reason. I won't go into that here; maybe one of these days at The Eastside View.
Algiubagio — named for its four partners, presumably Alberto, Giulia, Barbara, and Giovanni — is an upscale place; this was by far the most raffinato meal we've had here this trip. I took one of the four set menus, which began with a truly delicioous pile of bresaola, thin-sliced raw beef dressed with olive oil, set atop a generous serving of crisp, tender, tasty small-leafed arugula.

Alongside, a millefoglie containing warm tomino cheese and lardo — I confess this is what had attracted me — drizzled with artichoke honey.

Next came a plate of large ravioli, stuffed with fossa cheese, topped with little cubes of goose confit, the whole dressed with a black-truffle infused sauce. This was slightly over-salted, but otherwise very nicely conceived and executed: I was very happy. Happy, too, with the demitasse that followed: caffè Il Doge, my favorite Venetian coffee.
Pinot grigio in carafe
• Algiubagio Restaurant, Fondamenta Nuove, 5039, Cannaregio, Venezia; 041 523 6084
Beans.jpgON THE MORNING WALK we chanced upon a one-stall greengrocer market in a small campiello, where we bought a package of shell beans — borlotti, I'm pretty sure they were. I asked the vendor how to cook them, and she seemed incredulous: who would not know. You put them in water, she said, and bring it to a boil, and put in some olive oil, and cook them until they're done. And serve them with chopped rosemary; they have to have chopped rosemary.

And L. followed the instructions exactly this evening. We were still sated from lunch, so the beans, and a green salad, and a peach and an apricot afterward, were all we needed to set us to humming with satisfaction.
Prosecco spento


Curtis Faville said...


I'm never quite certain what the significant difference is between tortellini and ravioli. Is it just the way the pieces are built--tortellini folded, and ravioli sandwiched together? Otherwise, what people may put into them as fillings may not differ that much. Years ago, there used to be an Italian family which had a small place on Telegraph across from what used to be called Grandma's Bed & Breakfast. Then they moved to someplace in Oakland--maybe Montclair. They served really genuine Italian fare, and their ravioli were huge--six inches across--and you only needed two or three to make an entree. They had to be made fresh, from scratch, and they couldn't be cooked before-hand. Corso makes a fair imitation now, but not like those other ones. Finishing off with truffles (or truffle "oil") is a real treat. Oddly, truffles aren't consistently tasty, to me. Sometimes they're like stale mushrooms. I suspect that they may vary in quality and freshness, just as anything else does.

Charles Shere said...

Tortellini are small, circular, generally meat-filled, and (as the name implies) sort of twisted into shape; they're often served in broth. Ravioli are generally square, larger, and as you say sort of welded together by pressing the edges together. They may be stuffed with a meat mixture — brains are often involved — or not (pumpkin turns up often). Or they may be malfatti, not stuffed at all.

Black truffles seem out of place in Italian cuisine, to me. Like any other organic product, using the word in its general sense, they certainly vary in quality; there are good years and bad, good individuals and bad, and certainly good varieties and bad (cf Texan and Oregon “truffles”). By “bad“, I simply mean bland, or dull, or inauthentic.