Thursday, October 23, 2014

Torino, 1: Le cru et le cuit

Via Principe Tommaso, Torino, October 22, 2014—
OR, IL CRUDO ed il cotto, not, I hasten to add, that Cook here is either of those, either crude or cooked. It's just that we're in Piemonte, where the world's best raw beef is served, and that's what I started with last night.

I don't think we could have found a better place for our first dinner in Italy in a couple of years: this restaurant, chosen from the Slow Food guide Osterie d'Italia, was a pleasant five-minute walk from our San Salvario apartment; its dining rooms are homey and attractive; its menu is local and generous; the wine list is ample and interesting; its staff attentive and discreet; and the kitchen is superb.

I began with carne cruda: raw Piemontese beef, chopped by hand of course, lightly salted; with carpaccio, the same beef sliced razor-thin, flavored with lemon juice, olive oil, and Castelmagno; and a soft, delicate meat pudding whose preparation eluded me entirely.

Piemontese beef at its best (and I've never met it not at its best) is sweet; you can taste the grasses and flowers of high mountain pastures in it. It is also very lean, with little marbling as served — no grain-fed beef here!

VitelloLindsey had the vitello tonnato, a huge serving of thinly sliced veal, boiled to just the right pink, covered with fine-textured tuna sauce whose flavor was subtle and innocent of fishy or vinegary aftertastes.

We went on to secondi, bypassing what promise to be particularly good house-made pastas — perhaps we'll be back for them later. Lindsey chose tagliata di vitello, cut an inch or so thick from the loin, I presume, and served with roasted potatoes and a Bearnaise-type sauce.

I had a brasato, chunks of beef braised in Barolo and served, simply, with puréed potatoes whose complex flavor made me think of chestnuts and celery root but was probably nothing more than fine fresh mountain-grown potatoes.

Dessert, of course: I couldn't resist a perfect baba au rhum, delicate and polite, in a supple Bavarian cream that was quite simply the best I've ever tasted, its eggs and cream farm-fresh and delightful.

House Arneis; house Timorassa by the glass (both clean and appealing, the Timorassa distinctive and a little stemmy);
house Nebbiolo (deep, rich, utterly drinkable)
Scannabue, Largo Saluzzo, 25h, Torino; +39 011 6696693

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