Meals to Remember

Oct 10, 2006

I savored many delicious meals on my trip to Italy.

The food-and-wine pairings worked at every sitting. As is often the case when dining, the food is the star, and the wine is part of the supporting cast.

Still, a few meals stood out from the rest, ranging from the simplest dishes to rather sophisticated entrées. In no special order, here are my happiest remembrances:

In Florence, the night I arrived, I feasted on a mix of dishes at La Giostra Ristorante, and while all the entrées were tasty, the grilled goat chops were finger-licking good. I hated to see the last chop disappear.

A few nights later in Florence, the spicy fish soup at La Cibreo was dense and concentrated and the highlight of a six- or seven-course meal.

At dinner with James Suckling, somewhere in the remote hills of Arezzo, he prepared a wonderful Tuscan dish, Papa al Pomodoro. It’s a tomato soup made with stale bread and white beans. Savory and rich, we washed down this hearty entrée with a double magnum of 1997 Fattoria Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano Riserva.

In Positano, at the Hotel Murat's restaurant, the gnocchi in a tomato sauce was so fresh it melted in your mouth.

In Capri, after a boat ride to the Blue Grotto, aboard the Vagabondo, a 1950s model skiff with a 70-something-year-old captain, we swam and snorkeled in the sea.

Then, as we boarded the boat, with a light rain and gusts of wind, our skipper, Carmine, sliced up fresh tomatoes, sprinkled generous amounts of sea salt on each slice and then doused them with a whole Capri lemon for each tomato. We washed that down with an unlabeled bottle of prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine, as he cued up his CD player for Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

If you want to dine with Carmine, you need to book the boat.

But you won’t find a friendlier, or more accommodating, captain anywhere.





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