Shortest Reservation Reply Award
is hereby presented to Parco di Castro masseria/restaurant in Speziale, Puglia; the email reply in question was:
That’s right, not even an exclamation mark…
The Italian “ok” (very different from the American “ok”) merits a discussion of its own. I have found it to be a more enthusiastic expression, almost equivalent to “great!” Still, upon receiving the email, I was taken slightly aback. I am not going to provide an excerpt of my reservation request, but rest assured that, in my, admittedly less than perfect, Italian, I did try to express all the giddiness we felt about the prospect of eating at their most excellent restaurant. Also, I could not help but compare/contrast it with the elaborate, very thoughtful and professional reply from another high-profile, slow-foodish azienda/restaurant Il Frantoio, just a few kilometers away.
Ironically enough, Il Frantoio ended up cancelling our confirmed azienda tour (in all fairness, they did email me the day before but we did not have access to email in Italy, nor could we change our travel plans at such a short notice). The meals were pretty fantastic (and similar in quality) at both places (except that the bill at il Frantoio was twice as high).
Best Drinks Award:
Is to be shared among the aforementioned Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso “Guardiola” 2007 at Antico Arco in Rome;
Benito Ferrara Greco di Tufo “Vigna Cicogna” 2009 (listed for 18 euros!!!) at il Ritrovo, Montepertuso (Amalfi coast);
Padre Peppe nocino (bitter walnut liquer) at L’Arco del Porto, Monopoli (Puglia), much needed after an unspeakable amount of seafood consumed :-);
House-made finocchietto (wild fennel liquer) at il Ritrovo, Montepertuso; and
Grappa at Le Botteghe, Matera (brought to us by the owner despite my protestations, since we could not follow up our fantastic lunch with a siesta). Unfortunately, I did not get the name of the producer, as I was too overwhelmed by the aromatics :-).
By the way, the key to surviving multiple courses in Italy is digestivi , - various liquers and other alcoholic beverages taken after the meal, such as grappa, amaro, rosolio (herb- and fruit-infused concoctions, often house-made), limoncello, finocchietto, brandy, etc.).
On the same note, the
Most Overpriced Wine List Award
without a doubt, goes to Ristorante Donna Rosa in Montepertuso (Amalfi coast). One of the revelations of the trip was the availability and choice of very enjoyable bottles of wine in the 15-25 euro range (and 3-6 euros by the glass) at all the restaurants and enotecas visited. Donna Rosa was the only exception of the trip (which almost makes it a national champion :-), with 10 euros/glass pricing and an expensive bottle selection (most bottles starting from 30 euros and up and up and up). Of course, it should come as no surprise that the check stated that “service is not included”…