2015 Muni Rosa Frizzante
Canapes – Crispy Salt Cod, Puff Pastry with Pistachio and Basil, Tartlet with Ragu
Crackers and Hard Breads
Whole Wheat and White Sourdough
Al-Aimo – Red Tomato Tartare, Green Tomato Tartare, Fava Beans, Ricotta Cheese, Pistachio Cream, Tomato Sorbet
Raw Langoustine Rolls – Crispy Spaghetti, Algae, Beetroot
Cuttlefish Cappuccino – Cream, Ink, Potatoes
Crispy Buffalo Ricotta and Mozzarella Cannelloni with Tomato Sauce
Smoked Taglioni with Egg Yolk Shavings, Gelatin of Ham Broth and Anchovies
Saffron, Juniper and Licorice Powder Risotto – old and new
Hand chopped Piemontese Beef with Black Truffles
Bone Marrow with Herbs
Fried Fish Bone with Balsamic foam
Roast Suckling Pig with Mustard Foam and Coffee Powder, Chicory
Bellini Sorbet – Peaches and Citrus
Almond Mozzarella – Honey, Rice and Olive
Melted Tartlet with Apricot and Curry, Gold Leaf
Located in Rubano and toqued by Massimiliano Alajmo, a man whose cooking earned him 3 Michelin Stars at the record breaking age of 28, le calandre proved an exemplary way to wrap a trip stretching across North Central Italy comprised of 18 Etoiles de Bibendum and thirty-eight eateries total, the Chef’s “classico” menu taking a look back at the sort of cuisine that, in most places, has yet to come.
Unassuming from the outside, a low white building demarcated by a simple sign naming both le calandre and the more casual il calandrino nextdoor, it was just minutes prior to a 13h00 reservation that the group arrived at Via Liguria 1, a warm greeting at the door quickly seeing us ushered to a dimpled carved wood table playfully decorated with two balls of yarn.
Every bit the modern fine dining experience, leather-aproned waiters with personality describing dishes while pleasantly conversing about topics far-and-wide, it was with a glass of bracing Natural 2015 Muni Rosa Frizzante that a quintet of Crackers and Hard Breads were tasted while perusing the menu, three distinct tastings exploring seasonality versus tradition, the only flaw being that all at the table are required to dine the same.
Not particularly full for Saturday lunch, only half of the tables spoken for during the course of a 210 minute stay, Canapes came by way of creamy Baccala wrapped in Shrimp Chips along with Puff Pastry and a Pizza-like Tartlet, the Yarn tacked to a nearby wall with pins and replaced by warm loaves of White Sourdough and Whole Wheat Bread.
Truly a progression of classics, Chef Alajmo’s famous “Al-Aimo” showing several sides of the Tomato by way of two Tartares, simple slices plus Sorbet paired to Fava Beans, Pistachio Cream and freshly made Cheese, course two spun the Spring Roll on its head with Italian inspiration, the Langoustine Sashimi served with pureed beets and added umami beneath a “Crispy Spaghetti” cage.
Presented now as course three, but once the restaurant’s very “First Taste,” Cuttlefish Cappuccino presents a creamy black and white potage that will leave almost anyone craving just one more bite on account of the complexity of taste, temperature and texture, a tube of Ricotta di Bufala eating more like Cannoli than Cannelloni with a sidecar of Tomato Sauce.
Presenting a unique take on Carbonara that saw smoky Noodles topped in shaved, cured Egg Yolk with Ham Stock and Anchovy slices delivering even more brine, the “old and new” representations of Risotto asked diners to pick a favorite of identical ingredients in different presentations, the creamy version via Creuset far more aromatic while the newer version slowly saw the grains fall from its center into a sort of Rice Soup.
Offering choices for a couple of courses, silky Beef Tartare veiled in Black Truffles followed up by brûléed Bone Marrow versus a puff of Fish Bones rendered into the texture of Cheetos with Balsamic Foam at its side, the finale of Suckling Pig offered an explosive foray into bold bitters including a stack of boiled Chicories, the Chef clearly anticipating the impact of its flavors and quickly following up with a palate cleansing Peach and Prosecco Sorbet.
Not a light meal by any means, portions including the Bone Marrow very generous with flavors equally robust, breads were soon replaced by wooden spheres presenting several fruit slices as dessert was prepared in the kitchen, the “Almond Mozzarella” a shattering orb of Honey, Rice and Olive while a “Melted Tartlet” ate far lighter than one might guess looking at it, the base of Apricot enhanced by the flavors of Curry as a light Custard melted forming a pool of cream around it.
Taking some time to chat as the dining room emptied, a can of Tomatoes given to each female as a parting gift, it was with the check paid that a quick stop was made at the attached bistro and patisserie, the cakes and tarts admittedly quite tempting, as too was a market selling everything from cookbooks to canned goods, serviceware and jellies.