Tuesday 22 May 2007
Lunch in The Cinque Terre....
In Vernazza, to be precise. My parents (visiting for the weekend) had never been to the Cinque Terre, and it seemed a good opportunity to see more of it than we had previously. The vagaries of Trenitalia meant that we had an unplanned stop for half an hour in Riomaggiore, the first of the five Terre, which I know of old, and well remember the half-hour climb to the Ristorante al Sole at the top of the town, where the combination of the view and the anchovies in lemon juice is the stuff of memories!
When we actually got there, Vernazza, sadly, was already heaving with scantily clad people laden with backpacks and hiking paraphernalia. You could see what it once had been, but it took a healthy slug of imagination still to see the underlying reality through the tourist-focused development that has obviously overwhelmed the place. I know it's a sign of getting old, but I'm definitely with Harold Acton who was already wondering aloud, in pained tones, a good thirty five years ago, why it was that people these days appeared to travel 'in their underwear'. It certainly does nothing positive for the view.
Lunch, however, was excellent. Served by the eponymous Gianni Franzi, under myriad coloured umbrellas on the edge of the harbour. A selection of fish-based antipasti - calamari salad; deep-fried anchovies; stuffed mussels; fried croquettes; anchovies in oil and lemon - followed by Orate (Gilthead Bream) grilled to perfection. The Technical Department asked for - and got - an industrial quantity of grilled cuttlefish, which weren't even on the menu. All washed down with a bottle of Gavi, the lightly smoky tones of which couldn't have been bettered!
Rabbit & Lemon Terrine (made a week and a half ago, and left to mature).
Boned Chicken, stuffed with Butter & Herbs, and roast.
Mint Ice Cream.