lunedì 9 marzo 2009

G-Spot: Liver & Lamb

When the owners of Garibaldi (see post “Galleons and Sloops in the Apennines”) decided to add on this little restaurant right across the street, the idea was to offer a simple selection of grilled food to the same sort of people who were stopping in for a glass of wine and the company of friends friends and colleagues before going home for dinner.

Davide and Daniele insist that name of the place - Punto G - Piacere della Griglia (literally “G Spot - Pleasures from the Grill”) - was inspired by the letter “G” in both “grill” and “Garibalidi” the name of both the street it’s on and the bar the run across the street. It was not originally a play on the Gräfenberg spot, but that didn’t stop them from hosting a public conference on the matter by sexuality and psychiatry professors from the University of L’Aquila last summer.

You don’t have to eat red meat if you don’t want to. They do grilled vegetables and bruschetta as well. But grilled eggplant, zucchini, red sweet peppers, onions and radicchio (red bitter lettuce that’s heaven when seared) are almost sublime when served with a half pound angus steak from Ireland. Even better when you’ve reignited your taste buds before hand with bruschetta (grilled toast with toppings) covered with black truffle paste, porcine mushrooms, hot pepper sauce, or marcetto (a spreadable tangy aged pecorino sheep cheese).

Just don’t leave without trying the spiedini, the tiny little shish kebab skewers that the Abruzzi are famous for. Traditionally made sheep the pieces are tiny so that they grill down tender and tasty. Ultimate finger food for a glass of ruby dark red wine, you eat them right off the sticks and can imagine people doing the same in the same room hundreds of years before. They also have a turkey and chicken version, but their most interesting variation on the theme is liver and hot peppers. Another bottle of this red please.

I love comments……

domenica 22 febbraio 2009

Galleons and Sloops in the Apennines

The Garibaldi Caffè e Enoteca is another of my favorite little places in L’Aquila. It’s a neighborhood all-hours place kind of like the Bar Pasquino under my apartment in Rome. In other words, cappuccino, brioche and newspapers (in Italian only) in the morning, wine and spirits from aperitivo time until after midnight. Both have pannini and other simple but delectable food at lunchtime, but I’m always somewhere else then.

The place was tiny when I first stumbled in 10 years ago. The walls were lined with bottles, boutique chocolates and fake masterpieces up to the arched ceiling and stacked along a wall like in an art counterfitter’s hideaway. Davide and Daniele the two friendly and attentive young brothers who own and run the place also have a gallery that sells professional fakes of famous paintings. As I write this I have two enormous scenes of venice above me (Tintoretto, I believe) Klimt, Hopper, and Van Gogh above the wall of white wines and grappas in front of me, Renoir, Modigliani, Monet and Bottero to my left. When I first stumbled in back then were the model sailing ships among the wooden chess sets and humidors filling the windows. They also have a small but interesting selection of cigars and a nice little bench on the cobblestone street outside - no smoking in bars in Italy anymore.

Despite being on a medieval street 2000 feet up in the mountains the boats fit in because the place was tiny, lined with dark hardwood, the bathroom was tiny like those on sailboats and after a few glasses of wine the world might start to pleasantly sway. They have added another room since I first started coming here, but the lived in, slightly cluttered atmosphere is the same.

This evening as I’m killing time before I meet up with my eleven year old daughter who hanging out with friends in the main square (I’m sometimes jealous of kids growing up in Italy. Just me, a notebook, and a plate of olives, mixed cold cuts and taralli (crispy dried bread in bite sized curls) meant to dampen the effects of a glass of Pecorino, white wine from varietal native to Abruzzo that is undergoing a sort of Renaissance here. The music goes back and forth between Spanish jazz and Astor Piazzola inspired lounge.

The only thing missing is dinner, but recently Davide and Daniele opened up the Punto G - Piacere della Griglia grill (literally “G Spot - Pleasures from the Grill”) across the street. Strictly carnivores only.

But that’s another post.

mercoledì 7 maggio 2008

Vinalia (DeliciousCityL'Aquila)

Hidden in an elegant basement next to town hall in L'Aquila (look it up, or better yet, come and visit, it's less than two hours into the mountains by car from Rome) is Vinalia, one of my favourite places to experience food, wine and atmosphere with a friend or three.

Vinalia can trace it's origins as an enoteca back to 1510, but today, thanks to sommelièr Marzia Buzzanica's love and understanding of wine, this is one of central Abruzzo's three best places for wine, and by far the best one for oustanding wines by the glass.

To be continued and refined. ..... (unfinished....but in the meantime see for yourself here: