The sun sets early this time of year. And by the time that Chef Luciano Villani of La Locanda del Borgo sent out this main course, it was already after 4 pm, the second hour-ish of a lunch which began a couple of hours earlier. No problem, no rush. And this was worth the wait.
A cube of tender, really tender, boneless veal shoulder- reale di vitello in Italian, One of the most prized cuts on the block. The chef served it with a topinambur sauce.
A what? Topinambur..also known as Jerusalem artichoke, sunchoke, sunroot, or earth apple. Grande. To the side was an nearly roasted artichoke with a surprising spectacular licorice sauce...
I went back to the La Locanda del Borgo Restaurant in Telese (Bn) nearly 14 months after my first visit. That afternoon at lunch I was treated to an exciting array of dishes by Chef Luciano Villani that embrace not only quality products the Benevento area, but from the entire Campania region as well. Like this amazing appetizer.
Check it out:
A compact pallina, ball, of minced Marchigiana beef from the Sannio area. The chef carefully placed on top seasonal field salad and - wait - a specialty. Peschiole from Variano Paternora, a cross between peaches and nectarines. The chef sprinkled extra virgin olive oil powder on top.
And so here we are. The end of a long and lovely meal atPalazzo Petrucci in Naples. The end of the meal that means the arrival of the dolce...the dessert.
Dessert which most of us have a tendency to want to pass over. No...I don't have any space, we say. Ok, just a bite. To make the chef happy, we say to ourselves.
As the server made his way down the long staircase that connected Palazzo Petrucci's kitchen to the dining room below, I was just a little curious as to what pastry chef Lucio Paciello decided to send down, Something chocolate? I wondered.
Far from it.
A pistachio dacquoise . Dacquoise? A soft cookie made with egg yolks, dried fruits and sugar Paciello wrote me afterwards. But there was much much more! Mango sauce, lime ganache and a pistachio parfait. Was there space? Yes there was. I made sure there was.
Light and fresh was my humble opinion. As I took my second bite, Sommelier Sergio Martinelli had a surprise or two himself. During lunch he had a wine for me to try with each serving....but this time he had two glasses of dessert wines. Two glasses which led to an interesting conversation and play on wine pairing. Our AIS training taught us that sweets need to be paired with sweet wines, so Martinelli poured me a glass of Ben Rye Passito di Pantellera from Donnafugata.
This popular dessert wine brought out the nuttiness of Paciello's dolce. Ok. But I noticed that Martinelli had another wine for me to try. A taste test. A gioco, a game, to see what else we could highlight in this to die for dessert. I watched as he opened a bottle of 2009 Chateau Suduiraut Castelnau de Suduiraut.
Why? I would soon find out. This wine was not as sweet as the first. It, however, highlighted the dessert's acidity. It focused on the fresh flavor of the limes - not only in the ganache, but in the fresh slices Paciello placed on top.
Nuttiness, acidity, freshness, morbidezza, crunchy pistacchios, tangy mango... Well. No...I don't have any space, we say. Ok, just a bite. To make the chef happy, we say to ourselves.
It's time to give desserts a second thought.