Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gallo D'Oro

Of all the restaurants we have stumbled upon during our travels, Gallo D'Oro (Gold Rooster) in Parma has to be our favorite. So good in fact, we have made daytrips there just to go to dinner. If our memory fails and we arrive on a day they are closed, we make do at their sister restaurant, Trattoria Ai Corrieri that also serves Tortelli di Zucca and a pretty good Spaghetti and Meatballs too. But nothing tops Gallo D'Oro.

The first thing one notices upon entry is the large and rather impressive, red prosciutto slicer. The owner would look so proud as he sliced off pieces for the antipasti platters. We believed he set it in the center of the room so everyone could see it in action, it was elevated to theater with him at the wheel . In the photos above one can also see a rather grand mortadella, pancetta and culatello, the most exquisite of prosciutti.

Culatello is generally much moister than prosciutto, perhaps because of the marbled fat in the cut of pork used to make it. At Gallo D'Oro it is served with a fried bread called piadina that puffs up and holds the heat long enough to melt the fat on your salumi of choice. One bite and you know why they are a perfect compliment to one another. If for no other reason, piadina and culatello combined are reason enough to bring fame to Emilia Romagna culinary tradition.

Another heavy hitter on the culinary team is the tortelli. Gallo D'Oro has a sampler plate of tortelli made of squash, ricotta and herbs, and veal; each and every is one delicious on its own. You can also order them individually. I especially love the crushed amaretti cookie crumbs in the squash version. A butter sage sauce completes the dish and goes perfectly with each flavor.

Colle Piacentini wines are the wines Emilian recipes were developed to compliment and my favorite of them is Gutturnio. It is a big, fruity, but dry, red wine that is frizzante (sparkling). Nothing like the cold duck produced in the U.S. or Lambrusco, the most common sparkling red imported here. It is not a sweet or semi dry, but a true, dry wine. It works well with everything except dessert. When I was a child my Italian grandfather would add sparkling water to his red wine. I was always curious as to why he would water down his wine. The minute I tasted Gutturnio I understood that is was the closest he could come to a dry, sparkling, red wine in the U.S.

Another Northern Italian classic dish is the roasted, stuffed breast of veal. My grandmother made it once, but I failed to ask for a recipe. It doesn't seem that difficult to figure out. The stuffing is made primarily with bread crumbs, egg, and parmigiano cheese. It makes for an excellent "secondo". After a meal like this, we just could not find room for dessert.


Borgo della Salina 3
Mon-Sat noon-2:30pm and 7:30-11pm

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Insomnia....Coffee Anyone?

Jet lag usually hits me halfway through the day when traveling to Europe. My antidote is to find a nice cafe and drink the largest size cup they offer. Walking or any exercise helps, and staying up until at least 9 p.m. before sleeping will usually reset my circadian rhythm. It was an appealing thought to try and find a cafe other than Starbucks, something local, and it would be doubly good since walking was the best way to find one. As it turns out, Insomnia has many locations in Dublin so finding one was relatively simple.
Not being a great fan of burnt tasting French or Italian roasted coffees, I was happy to find their coffee, rich, but mellow. The feathered milk froth was a visual treat and drinking the large cup took a bit of time and gave me a needed break from walking. These are modern shops with style, that have a good looking selection of pastries too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cafe En Seine, Dublin

The name of this establishment, spoken out loud, makes me giggle, but this restaurant/watering hole was a fun find in downtown Dublin on Dawson Street. It's overdone, French elegance was quite foreign to the standard pub fare, as it should be, but sitting in one or another of its rooms was comfortable and quite satisfying. It's one of those places that inspires one to linger. As in most establishments serving cafeteria style food, the vegetables were overcooked thanks to the steam tables and the roasts were served mostly well done too, but the price was right for such an expensive city and I would go there again, especially for cocktails and during the evenings for the bar scene.

Being transfixed by the interior, I completely forgot to take a photo of the exterior that has sidewalk dining.

We selected entrees of beef ribs, which were merely boneless slices of roast beef by anyone's definition, and sausage in onion gravy. Chips and mashed potatoes were available, but we both selected potato croquettes for our starch. Tasteless, overcooked vegetables were also provided to round out the meal. This was a lot of food for 10-11 euros.

40 Dawson Street
Dublin 2 Ireland
Tel: +353 (0) 1 6774369