Saturday, February 20, 2010

Great food in Italy!

Of course, during the week I was in Italy to complete my PhD requirements, I also tried to eat as much of the local food as possible. Let's simply say that I have a different approach to the "ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT" concept!! Here are some of the delicious food I had while I was there.

This first item is called SPAGHETTI AL CARTOCCIO. It is a seafood pasta dish where spaghetti noodles are mixed with a rich tomatoes and cream sauce and an incredible variety of shellfish (shrimp, mussels, prawns, clams, squid, etc). Then, the whole thing is placed in aluminum foil and served as a "cartoccio" (rough looking package). Very messy, but an absolute treat for seafood lovers like me). I ate this at the Ristorante Pizzeria Italia, one of my favorites in Pavia, both for quality and quantity (as well as reasonable prices) in Pavia.

Another day, Ale and I met his wife Patrizia for lunch and went to a very fancy restaurant downtown Pavia (I can't remember the name, but as soon as I find it I will add it here). It has a lunch only menu with few specials that change from day to day and the pricing was reasonable. They serve an awesome tray of mixed breads and then I ordered some gnocchetti al ragu di mare (small potato dumplings with a diced seafood and tomato-based sauce), trota salmonata with zucchine trifolate (pink trout with sautee zucchini) and a delicate dessert made of sliced cupcakes and fresh custard cream.

On the Saturday before I left, I was able to take the Achillis to one of my favorite restaurants near where my parents live. The name of the place is Ristorante Simposio and they are famous for their seafood dishes (for a change). We really overdid it here!! But who could resist. First, who knows when I would be back here. Second, it was a goodbye with some very good friends and there was a little bit of uncertainty now that the PhD was over about when I was going to be able to see them again. Lunch was absolutely incredible. We started with some appetizers and things the kids could also enjoy such as Antipasto Misto di Mare per Patrizia (mixed seafood appetizers) and some Fritto Misto (mixed fried shrimp and calamari) for Leonardo. Ale and I instead enjoyed a very tasty, yet delicate Risotto al Pesce Persico (risotto with perch fillet). It was a joy for every taste buds. I think Ale ended up ordering a second serving since his daughter Beatrice was eating all his.

Next, we ordered one of the house specialties and the very reason we came here to eat: their magnificent and colossal seafood soup (with some more grilled fish just in case we were still hungry! What a feast for the eyes, the fingers and the mouth!!

The last item on this glorious week of food delicacies was dinner at my parents' home with the sweet company of my grandparents Perego. Mom made one of his the dishes she is famous for: La Cassola (aka Cazzuola), a typical dish of this area of Italy (Brianza). It is a mix of cabbage, pork sausage and pork ribs cooked slowly in the oven and eaten with Polenta (corn mash). I need to learn how to make it myself because once a year is just not going to do it for me! Grandma Perego completed an already perfect meal by bringing a beautiful Meringata ice-cream cake (a cake made exclusively of vanilla ice-cream and meringues), which is my very favorite dessert in the world (it is only better when eaten with hot chocolate poured on it!).

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