Update – Country House San Giorgio (click here to go to website)
On the first really hot Sunday since we’ve been here (and it has continued) we were trying to think where to go that might be cooler and a great way to spend an afternoon. Of course, we thought of Country House San Giorgio up in the hills outside of town. We looked at the bus schedule and it said we’d get to their town about 1:15, so we emailed our landlord/Italian angel, Caterina, for reservations for 1:30. She emailed back that she wasn’t sure the bus ran on Sunday and if 12:30 was okay her father, Peppe, would pick us up. We hated to impose but we really wanted to spend the afternoon there, so we accepted their incredibly kind offer, again.
When we arrived at 12:45 there were patrons already parking their cars. We took “our table” in the garden and before long there were more than 40 of us to feed, which included a table of 20. As before there were children of all ages and a dog, but being in the country there was lots of room to run around. It was still hot, but not as hot as in the city. We didn’t care because we didn’t have to lift a finger while the Frollo family and hunky Cesare worked really hard in the oppressive heat. I don’t know if I mentioned before that they do not put the platters of food on the table until they have served everyone individually. Daniela put on an impressive feast that day, which is why they are #4 on TripAdvisor. They’d be higher if they were in the town. This is also the other restaurant that will not let you pay a penny over the tab.
We started with cold bottles of water and a crisp local white wine. The usual basket of bread was replaced by a beautiful handmade satchel of linen and tied with ribbon with rolls in it. You never see butter on a table in Italy.
Very thinly sliced beef (cured) w/pine nuts
Black rice salad w/onion, carrots, zucchini, white raisins and pine nuts
Ascoli mixed fried plate – stuffed olives, polenta and lightly battered mixed vegetables
Quiche with sausage and mushrooms
Crostini of ham and melted cheese
Warm creamy mushroom crepe
Tagliatelle with a delicious sauce of meat/tomato/porcini mushrooms
(I saw the secondo coming out and stopped eating the pasta to save room)
Scampi with paella
I must describe – first of all what they call scampi here we’d call mini lobsters at home. The paella was the incredibly flavorful and creamy with shrimps, fish and (we think) cuttlefish. Caterina did not know the English name for them. So the presentation is impressive with these lovely orange and pink scampi laid across the top of a platter of paella.
Beautifully prepared rare slices of tender beef on a bed of arugula (for those that did not want seafood)
Mixed salad, if you wanted it. Not for us because we still have dessert to come.
This was a layer of vanilla cream, then a layer of sponge cake soaked in a flavorful berry-like liquor (Alchermes) that I can’t find a translation for, and topped with a layer of chocolate cream. Yummmmm!
Passed, it was too hot!
Peppe’s homemade chilled liquors (I like the basil best)
When it came time to go we met another talented member of the Frollo family, Francesco, Caterina’s brother. He had been in the kitchen cooking with his mother and was now assigned to take us home. On the way we discovered that Francesco has been cooking in his parent’s restaurants for seven years, four of them in Australia. However, his passion is rock music and his band has already cut three CDs – he’s the singer. Like his sister, you have to pay the bills so you work doing what can make money. I don’t think I have mentioned yet that lovely Caterina is very smart as well. She has her Master’s degree in Statistics from Bologna and says she just loves numbers. But this is a recession and no jobs in her field are available. So she teaches math part of the year and works at the restaurant the rest of the time. We hope the recession ends here soon so these talented people can do what makes their hearts sing.