Sunday, April 21, 2013

Greatest Hits in Roman Dining

Rather than doing individual postings on every restaurant meal my sister and I enjoyed, I have decided to do a "greatest hits" collection of the best dishes and restaurant experiences we encountered.

Everything at L'Asino d'oro for the incredible price of 13 euros

At Armando al Pantheon, the starter of black rice studded with seafood.

 and this dish of calamari and artichokes

Roma Sparita's renowned cacio e pepe in a parmesan cup

 Everything fried at Da Cesare al Casaletto

fried gnocchi with cacio e pepe sauce

fried meatballs with pesto

fried calamari

Everything at Ristorante Antico Arco

 artichoke and guinea fowl lasagna

seafood ravioli

lentil soup with grilled calamari

onion pie with parmesan sauce

Everything at Roscoli
the pizza

the goat cheese starter

 pasta carbonara


cookies with chocolate for dipping

 The Tasting Menu  with wine pairing at Il Buco in Sorrento

rice ball

white wine from Avellino

Homemade fettuccella with anchovies, sorrento walnuts,
escarole Neapolitan style and toasted pine nuts

beet flavored pasta with clams

zesty red wine

seabass with spring vegetables

dessert wine

lemon tiramisu

coffee with limoncello

 Buono Appetito

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Auction

I have never stayed there any probably never would.  The legendary Hotel Crillon on the Place de la Concorde in Paris was hard to miss, especially if you had business at the U.S. Embassy across the street.  Its palatial presence (in fact it was a privately-owned palace for most of its history since 1758) actually intimidated me from trying to enter and take a look around.  However, that was exactly what has lured celebrities like Liz and Dick, musicians from Leonard Bernstein to Madonna, presidents, royalty, generals, diplomats, etc after it became a hotel in 1909.  What they found inside were opulently furnished and decorated rooms, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a level of service and attention that defined "five-star".

Yet even a grande dame like the Crillon needs to be refreshed with a new wardrobe and amenities that clients have come to expect nowadays.  So it was not surprising that the owners of the hotel would be closing it for two years to do a major renovation; what was surprising was the decision to auction off  to the public all the current inventory of furnishings, artwork, and decorations.  I went on line to look at the catalogue which listed over 3500 items including chandeliers, lamps, tables, desks, curtains, sofas, chairs, reception counters, carpets, framed prints, silverware, dishware, even wine for sale.

Perusing the catalogue, I was rather intrigued by a set of silverware (24 place settings) and the low estimated value (400-500 euros) for the lot.  I begin to think that maybe even I could afford a piece of history....

So I registered for the auction that I would be able to watch and even bid for items online.  As the auction began yesterday, I sat down to watch, observe, and prepare myself to participate.

 It didn't take me long to realize how naive I had been.  Apparently many other participants with very deep pockets were also eager to have their own piece of history.  And the guide prices for each lot proved to be only launching pads for the bidding....nearly every item sold for ten times or more than those "estimates".  ("My silverware" went for over 4000 euros.)  I was disappointed of course but I hope the items have found good homes and that the revenue will go to making the Hotel Crillon better than before...for those who can afford it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

At the end of the road...

After leaving Amalfi, the traffic thinned out and the weather improved, allowing us to appreciate both panoramic views and smaller details.

Our destination was the picturesque fishing village of Cetara where we would have lunch.  It was a tour buses, just villagers going about their daily business...  

and a notable restaurant called Aquapazza.   The star of the menu was not just fish, but anchovies in particular. And the chef made sure we tasted them in various forms...

freshly marianted...

in a superb fritto misto...

and in a spicy version of the ancient Roman condiment garum.

Beverly opted for a seafood linguini and I followed the anchovies with an inventive fish and pea soup dish.

Yet, as delicious as the food was, the ubiquitous restaurant logo
was equally as memorable.