Winding through and around quaint little towns…
We headed to our destination, Ristorante Angiolina in Pisciotta (a small beach town along the magnificent Cilentro coast). Once again the plan was to sample local dishes, fresh from the sea and for me to discern new trends in food and presentation which honor tradition. Checkered tables cloth’s and an informal attitude decorated the family courtyard exterior.
I was skeptical of our first Antipasto; a fruit, balsamic marinated Tuna paired with Melon. It looked almost gimmicky, colorfully plated, designed but lacking character. Although I pair fish with fruit in my dishes, I have become accustomed (alough not sold) to the local shrug of in-authenticity often associated. Nothing better than being proved wrong. The Tuna was scandalously tender. The Balsamic velvety and sweet. The melon, ripe! The sweetness of the dish was from the sun; a gift of the climate, not induced by added sugar.
My skepticism was becoming a trend. The Alicé (Anchovies) Ripieni (I think it was called), was actually a parmesan; baked with Ricotta and Tomato Sauce. I feared repetition from dishes we make successfully on the farm; the Alicé’s saltiness distracting and confusing the experience. Not at all. Tender and subtle they became the layers, lightly separating each buttery bite with texture and notes of the sea; reputably “falling back” for the cheese to belt out the high notes.
Alicé’s shined again when baked with Bread, Parsley and Lemon. I feared a deep fried repeat of dishes past, but was more than surprised by its airiness. It was bright and tangy, spongy and perfectly executed.
For my primi I had my first Ravioli since being in Italy. I feared disappointment, sogginess and battling flavors. Instead whipped local white fish mixed with puréed Zucchini Ricotta seeped into a tomato jus broth and was punctuated with string like fried strips of Zuchinni. Grilled bright red Shrimp/Gamberini and a poached Tomato rested proudly in the dish. They each had their cameos but knew just a taste was suffice. The Tomato’s light explosion replenished the dishes broth. The shrimp (smartly) was little more than a reminder of the sea’s colorful fruits and ensured you got your $’s worth. Who doesn’t appreciate Shrimp for good measure?
The meal’s overall lightness meant I would at least ask about the desserts. Conscious that I have to be more respectful of Dolci’s role in a proper "meal", I have been trying to be more supportive of Pastry chefs; to save room and honor the craft. A Ricotta/Eggplant dessert won me. Although just puff pastry with sweetened Ricotta (& Chocolate Syrup), the creaminess and simplicity excited me enough to note to make it when I return.
Satiated and tipsy in the afternoon heat, we hit the beach!