Dining in Milano, Italy: Osteria La Risacca
On our last night in Italy, my husband and I dined at Osteria La Risacca in Milano. The restaurant was very elegant, with white table cloths and fine glassware, as well as a standing ice bucket beside each table—the latter a bit cheesy, but practical given that most knowledgeable wine lovers would be ordering white wine with the seafood-based menu. The decor of the restaurant was decidedly maritime, with anchors and ropes adorning the walls and sea-blue color accents everywhere. We walked in around 8:30pm and the restaurant was just starting to get busy. Though we had no reservation, we were seated quickly.
Our server, Marco, was a gracious host who was excited to point us in the right direction when we mentioned we’d be ordering a bottle of wine. But when we told him I was a wine writer, he smiled and knew to let me take the reins. We ordered a bottle of Capichera 2014 Vermentino and the prosciutto di Parma as our antipasti. This Vermentino from the northeastern part of the island of Sardegna was a beautiful wine to pair with all the seafood we ordered. And in fact, it also went exquisitely well with the tender, salty and flavorful prosciutto di Parma. Gorgeous aromas of lemon blossom, mineral and sea spray abound from this delicate, but energetic Vermentino. On the palate, the wine has a medium+ body with a silky texture and crisp minerality; this is definitely a wine for those who love a voluptuous mouthfeel. With all its roundness, though, it does have balancing acidity to bring structure and complexity, with flavors of underripe honeydew, lemon and minerals. This is a beautiful and balanced wine with great finesse.
For the primi, we ordered the traditional Milanese risotto accompanied by a delicious array of tender seafood. The risotto was served in its typical creamy, al-dente style, but was not overly rich like risottos I have had in the US. Instead, this risotto was carried by its fresh seafood flavors that really brought depth and complexity. So tender was the seafood and so deep were the flavors that I savored every bite. The risotto was everything I had hoped it would be, though my husband and I both laughed at the parsley sprig and sprinklings across the plate, garnished in a 1970s-style fashion.
Given our wine choice and the seafood-themed menu, we thought it was best to order the grilled seafood platter. Squid, tuna, swordfish, salmon, shrimp and one other white, fatty fish that I wasn’t able to identify adorned this platter. Dressed in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, with the charred flavors of the grill, each piece of seafood was presented simply so as to allow the fresh flavors of the sea shine bright. I have only ever had fish this fresh and tender once, when I traveled to Trinidad and Tobago, and ate king fish that had literally been caught in the local fishing village just hours before I ate it. I imagine that at a nice restaurant like La Risacca, the seafood must be shipped in frequently from the coast, and judging by the tenderness, it tasted like it hadn’t been out of the ocean for more than a day.
For dessert, we ordered the Pellegrino 2015 Passito di Pantelleria and a small plate of biscotti. At this point, we had been at the restaurant for about two hours and we weren’t in any rush to leave. We sipped and savored the beautiful Pantelleria, a style of wine that is imported into the US in small quantities, because its production is so limited. (My colleague, Monica Larner, penned a wonderful article on the island of Pantelleria and one of its most famous Passito producers—Donnafugata—that I highly recommend checking out; there is even a video of her visit to the island.) Located southwest of Sicily and halfway to Tunisia, Pantelleria is so small on a map that you almost don’t even know it’s there. Vines are trained low to the ground, because of the intense and swift sea breezes that blow around the island. But it is also because of these intense winds that the sweet Passito wine is able to be produced, by drying the Zibibbo grapes in the natural sunlight and wind, thereby concentrating the sugars before production and bottling. This process is called appassimento.
The sweetness of the Pellegrino 2015 Passito di Pantelleria embodied the sweetness of our entire trip, and as we savored every sip of the Pantelleria, we reminisced about all of the wonderful places we had been. The bouquet was enticing with its orange blossom, honey and crème brûlée aromas. And the palate was as fresh the Ligurian Coast's sea breeze, salty with acidity balancing its smooth texture. Paired with a small plate of biscotti, and then followed by espresso, we left La Risacca feeling grateful but bittersweet as our time in Italy was finally coming to an end.
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Celebrate National Doughnut Day at City Garden
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If you’re a wine-country foodie, Santa Rosa’s new City Garden Doughnuts & Coffee is sure to have popped up on your radar. With its grand opening today on National Doughnut Day—June 2—City Garden is primed to bring locals and visitors the highest quality doughnuts they’re ever tasted.