Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Back from our road trip..and the eating was fine!
Food..That's what's on my mind right now. Why? Because we just got back from 8 days travelling through some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, with fantastic weather, and we had such amazing food along the way. And since I no longer drink or smoke, I need to obsess about something! Gimme a break here.
OK, we are back, but that didn't stop us from still continuing to enjoy our trip. We just had dinner..4 cheeses from France, 2 from Italy, some Pate´, Saucisson l'ail, Chorizo..all from France...a baguette, a cereal batard and a Savoyard tart with potato, onions, cheese and lardon. Yes from France. And Mustard...from France. See where this is going?
The French have amazing food. Like you didn't already know that. But I mean really..we didn't have a thing I wouldn't have again or highly recommend. The variety and quality of all their products is just astounding. Simple things..like onions, bread, butter. Here's what we had tonight.....
A Bleu de Bresse, a Goat cheese with olive, an unpastureised Brie, and another Goat (not sure of the type, could be a St Marcellin goat?), from the Alain Hess shop in Beaune, and a Fontina d'aosta and a Stavechhia from Aosta, Italy (see photo). Each one a wonder of flavor and scent..just out of this world. And the sausages and pate, not expensive or fancy, just solid, good, quality food. I love this stuff.
And the Savoy tart..here's what we learned in the Haute-Savoie...they meld potato, cheese (Reblochon), onions and Smoked ham or lardon together really well. The invented a dish with it 25 years or so ago, Tartiflette...., it's served throughout the region. And then they also put it on some dough and bake it altogether, so you can eat it anytime..hot or cold..just heaven! Say whatever you want about the French, and they are rude drivers from my experiance (but that's another story) (Hmmm, maybe it was the German liscense plate!).. they have some of the best food in the world and you can't take that away from them. I could go on..but you get the idea...
As for the Italians..well another awesome foodscape..especially if you're fortunate enough to eat home cooked, locally sourced foods, as we were able to do at the Agriturismo we stayed at. Along the way, we bought some great cheeses, and local hams..Jamon de Bosses from the Alps, Parma Prociutto of course, Smoked speck from Aosta, mortadella. Mmmmmm!! We had some wonderful roadside lunches along the way in the mountains. Actually they could have been better...if we had some REAL BREAD!! What the fuck's up with that? I was in northern Italy before, in the same Aosta valley almost 20 years ago, skiing. And the one thing I remember is how the bread sucked. And apparently it hasn't changed. I totally don't understand this. The bread is white as could be, soft, pillowy..the crust is not dense or chewy...just really bad. In France you can't get bad bread if you tried, the lowliest super marche has awesome baguettes. In Germany, the whole grain breads are unequalled. I've not been to southern Italy, but I can only assume from my Sicilian heritage and neighborhood bakeries in NYC that they know how to make bread. But why not the north??...I want answers!!! (Christian De Matteo..help me here)
Ok Back to the Agriturismo...in Lago di Como. Al Marnich, up in the hills of Schignano..a few kilometers from the lake. Now this is a great idea. I know ..I'm slow..but this is the way to vacation. It was secluded, quiet..nature all around. And they grow the food you eat there on the property. Or at least most of it. It is all local. We ate in small dining rooms, family style, met some great people that way too. Check this out..over the course of two nights this is what we ate....Bresaola with Radicchio and shaved Parmigiano, and olive oil (spectacular olive oil)...Farm made goat and cow cheese plate with incredible honey, raspberry jam and walnuts....Gnocchi wih tomato, zuchhini, pepper and eggplant....Pizza with rucola, onion, goat cheese....Tagliatelle con ragu di mano....Greek salad....Involtini di mano, a beef roulade stuffed with egg, stewed in tomatoes and vegtables...panna cotta with berries...all fatta in casa, home made. And get this..two apps, two entree, 2 espresso, a bottle of mineral water, Gisi had wine and a dessert for me..40€.. under $60.00 US. I was blown away by the quality of the food and service.
Dinners in France? Yes, we had a few. Again, inexpensive bistro menus..but real good stuff. How 'bout this...Tete de Veau (veal head, look it up..classic, and very good)..Bresse chicken...Charollais cote de bouef with frites..salade with Bresse Jambon, lardon, eggs, tomato...Charcoutrie Savoyard...Saucisson Beaujolais...Salade with Steak and Crevette (surf n turf!), escargots, creme caramel...oohhhh! So good. We had a small bistro near us in Bresse, Le Cochon Rouge, that had 3 course menu under 20€! Or a brasserie in Annemasse, in Haute-Savoie..same deal. Oh and the onions in the salad..like you never had. We were surrounded by onion and leek fields in Bresse, so that must be why. Real oniony flavor but no bite or acidity..mellow and good. And the salad dressings..perfection. I know it sound so simple, but you really notice the difference. At least we did. And I haven't covered dessert and pastry!!!!!! Oh my. And the best pears we ever had at a roadside stand near Martigny, Switzerland....and on and on....
I will be back for more. This has been a wonderful week. And it can be done very inexpensively. I'll explain that and write about some of our other experiances later. Getting tired. Photos to come. Meanwhile, we will remember some great food and sleep with dreams of days to come.