Friday, November 7, 2014

Last dinner in Italy

Eastside Road, November 7, 2014—
WE'RE HOME, after a long day in the air and in airports, and another gradually moving from an airport motel to normalcy. So it's time to contrast the last dinner in Italy — for now — with the first back on Eastside Road.

I don't usually photograph people I don't know, out in public: but theist two guys looked so much like a favorite painting by Marcel Duchamp (Chess Players) that I couldn't resist, and they (and their setting) also give you a good idea of what Italian small-town hotels depend on for their trade: blue-collar workers out on assignment. No idea what these guys do for a living. They're relaxing with their smartphones and tablets, probably playing a soccer-game app or maybe even watching a game.

Here's the menu:
Carpaccio di Chianina con sedano e parmigiano
Pappardelle fresche al ragù di Chianina
Tagliata di Chianina con contorno
Dolce della casa

A menù di carne: meat menu, suitable for us blue-collar types. And it was my last dinner in this country for a few months: so why not?


To tell the truth I hadn't expected a lot. We'd hoped to dine in one of three Slow Food restaurants not too far from our hotel, which had been chosen for its proximity to the airport, but last-minute confusion, crisis, and anxiety had ruled that out. So it was with a little trepidation that I'd ordered. But the carpaccio, under a scattering of sliced fennel and drizzled with excellent olive oil, was a very pleasant dish indeed.

The pappardelle were nice and eggy, perfectly cooked, and sauced with a pleasant light Bolognese. The Tagliata — literally "sliced," in fact chunks of what I'd call stew beef, rather tough but therefore full of flavor — was nicely flavored with salt, oil, and rosemary, and surrounded, as you see, by a man-sized portion of roasted potatoes.

And the dolce — well, the photo, as usual, doesn't do it justice. Light, spongy, full of sweet wholesome whipped cream, topped with frutti di boschi (red fruit: berries, currants, who knows what else), and laced with a discreet amount of rum, it was a splendid finale.
Bianco, then rosso Toscana, in carafe
•Hotel Restaurant I Tre Leoni, Viale Ugo Maspero, 10, Somma Lombardo (VA); +39 0331 255520
THAT WAS THREE days ago, but seems a month. The next day, Wednesday, was spent flying from Milan to New York to Charlotte to San Francisco, eating snacks generously provided (this written ironically) by the air carrier and an exorbitant sandwich bought at JFK: the less written here about such matters, the better.

We arrived at SFO at 10:30, too late and too tired for dinner. Yesterday, after a good night's sleep, we took the bus home, caught up on the mail, and dined on the remains of the tuna-cannellini salad I'd made in mid-October. It hadn't improved in the freezer.
Garnacha blanca, Ressò (Catalunya), 2013: a nice, clean, soft, generous, cheap wine

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