I had asked Ritsu about a week ago if she wanted to go anywhere special on Sunday and she said ‘not really’ … much later she explained that she was not aware that I was talking about Valentines Day. Maybe the combination of the recent medical mishap and her Japanese genes (did you know that in Japan, on V-day, only women are supposed to give chocolate to men, not even only to loved ones? But retaliation comes March 14, when men have to return the favor, and giving back ‘only’ the same amount of chocolate is the same as a ‘Dear John’ Letter. [source: wikipedia]
So, besides being semi invalid, I managed to get a box of chocolate, a bouquet of roses, but calling restaurants on Saturday just before V-day was a very interesting, though not very surprising experience … I got everything from a very polite ‘sure, let me check, oh, I am so sorry, but we are fully booked’ to ‘HA HA HA HA HA HA HA’ ..
But my best and most successful conversation was with our pals at Magorabin, where we had been once, twice before. After the usual ‘we are fully booked’ spiel, I tried things like ‘but we are nearly regulars and maybe you can squeeze us in’, I even recognized the voice of the guy on the phone: my Gin & Tonic man, and he started to remember me … and suddenly he had an idea … ‘We are still fully booked for dinner … but how about lunch???’
And that was music to my ears … lunch on a snowy Sunday makes things like getting a babysitter so much easier … (also, I am getting old and want to be in bed by 10)
So, off we went by taxi, we were indeed greeted like regulars and we were presented with the special San Valentino menu (we could have ordered a la carte as well) … but pretty much everything on the menu sounded fantastic and once we communicated that Ritsu cannot have anything with oysters (allergy), we settled for that. Amazingly, even 2 different kinds of bubbly (one white, one rosé) and one desert wine (all from here) were included in the whole deal.
We got to talk again to chef Marcello directly who suggested to exchange Ritsu’s risotto (which according to the menu comes with oyster butter) with a risotto based on crab meat.
And then the feast started: (do I even need to repeat my food porn warning?)
|SAN VALENTINO 2010
“Elogio alla sensualitâ”
(I will hardly even mention the delicious selection of breads with pink pepper butter that precedes every meal here)
Overall an impeccable start and signs of things to come.
|2.) Crudi di pesce con frutti tropicali||A very nicely arranged platter of four different kinds of raw seafood, from what we were able to identify there was sliced scallop, maybe some sea bass and for sure some red shrimp, all perfectly fresh and paired up with some great corresponding tropical fruit:
Lime, avocado, something yellow that we are still arguing about if it was paw paw (as I recall the waiter saying it was) or mango (which color-wise makes more sense, but for me it was missing the mango-typical texture) and delicious kernels of pomegranate.
(Interestingly, one of the waiters came back to rotate the plates, as if (maybe) the chef had tried to create a fish shape dish … if you squint really hard, it DOES look like a fish.
This dish was easily the highlight of the evening and I would have given it a perfect 10 on the Goodale scale, if the pieces of avocado had been a bit softer .. they were barely ripe.
|3.) Insalatina tiepida di arance e calamari|
Oranges, soft calamari pieces in funky shapes & tiny capers … and I keep wondering it they used some walnut oil … I always got some nutty flavor which added immensely to enjoying this dish.
|4.) Tortelli di aragosta son il suo consommé||I keep getting confused about what exactly aragosta is. Sometimes it is translated as lobster (which then again could also be astice) or it is just some other big crustacean.
(Ah, they are similar, but not the same, look at the claws)
But anyways, lucky number 5 of those in a very fragrant lobster broth, decorated with rose petals.
As much as I am usually trying to skip the primi as I see them just as fillers, this was fantastic.
|5.) Risotto biologico Acquarello al burro d’ostrice, caramello d’aceto rosso a caviale Asetra|
Did I mention how much I liked that the first primi was pleasently small? Same here, good portion, not too filling and just incredible in flavor.
Asetra is a caviar that is price wise just one tier under Beluga, which means you easily pay 200+$ for an ounce for that [source International house of caviar and I had at least quarter of an ounce on my risotto.
Since Ritsu can’t do oysters, she got a risotto with crab meat, which was equally cooked to perfection, had a more ‘fresh’ flavor to it (because of some greens, mine was more sweet and rich)
So far all we had were seafood dishes … but when they came with the knives that looked like we are going out hunting, we knew it was time for meat.
but I recall some Mexican restaurants that do meat in ‘chocolate sauce’ .. it is only sweet if you add sugar .. and sweet is not bad at all, right? (Think about how sweet BBQ sauce and ketchup actually are)
A very delectable dish, but if I had to give grades (and so far, no one is paying me to do so [yet]) this would have been the lowest rated dish of the menu, while still being a way above average concoction. It sounds really bad to call it ‘lowest rated’ .. it was really amazing! it just shows how great the other dishes were.
|7.) Pancia di maialino da late al rosemarino, crema di piseli e gamberoni al cocco|
A classic … slow cooked pork belly. We had that in a variation the first time around. New this time was the pureé of peas (with some pieces of asparagus) and the single shrimp on top did not come across as bitter as it did last time …
If I could change anything .. this pork belly is perfect … why not just serve it with some sweet red onions … (Or ask Malcolm again to wreak havoc on his oven and waste 4 hours of his time)
|8.) Fragole e limone
No, they did not give us half a lemon and some strawberries .. it was rather a fusion of 2 sorbets with sauce and powdered sugar, a mint leaf and some more flower petals .. followed by:
Overall: I have liked this place a lot before … but the first time we were too full too quickly and the second time it felt a bit like repeat business … so THIS time, it was all new, great size of portions, an overall fantastic menu, so THIS time has been the best meal there so far for us. And I tried to convey that to Marcello that he should do more themed Sunday lunches for regulars who otherwise know his menu. (Next V’day on a Sunday is in 2016, I don’t want to wait that long)
Checking the website later, I see that they are usually closed on Sundays … so this Valentines Day must have taken quite some extra power, but must also have brought some welcome surplus money.
Speaking of which .. the price was at 60€ per person very reasonable (including drinks) but I would not hold it against them if they hiked the price up a bit for dinner (Good chance of no shows thanks to the snow, plus dinner patrons drink way more)
Corso San Maurizio 61/b