I’ve been a little absent from this little online home of late, in the past week that was because I was in Italy, Riva del Garda to be precise, to celebrate a friends wedding, or more accurately two friends weddings, only remove the plural as they were marrying each other :)
I’ve been to Italy three times previously, I love Rome and Naples, both buzzing with energy and with fantastic food, both cities to get lost, idle and indulge in. The furthest North I had been was Florence, which at the tender age of 19 was too quiet for me, so, I was looking forward to visiting Lago di Garda, somewhere quiet and visually spectacular with very different food to what I had experienced further South, the perfect counter to a hectic month in London. Added to this, I grew up next to the Atlantic and love being by water, I especially love ferries and boats, so I was very much looking forward to a first night relaxing with just my book, some good food and some nice red wine somewhere by the Lake.
This wasn’t to happen, certainly not as I intended, as I was very unlucky and I missed the only bus from the airport (there’s only one a day!), then the bank cancelled my cash card (due to a fraudulent transaction which was only me trying to withdraw money at the airport), so I spent my first few hours talking to my bank and various taxi drivers at the airport who were offering to take me to all corners of Italy for extremely extravagant sums. It all ended well, if differently to expected, with, following a ridiculously overpriced taxi journey, a three and a half hour ferry trip in the evening sun ending in Riva del Garda at sunset.
First impressions of culinary Riva? Good pizza that first night with nice red wine, all enjoyed in the company of a good book. The pizza was not as good as what I had experienced in Naples, but was on a par with the better ones that I have had in London and very fairly priced (Bella Napoli, should you visit). After this, it was a bit hit and miss, Riva being a tourist town and catering very much for German and Austrian tourists, lots of restaurants offered beef and roast potatoes or frankfurters, but, there were some gems, offering the likes of rabbit stew with polenta and wonderful fresh seafood from the lake. Veal was very common and any steak I had was very good.
My two favourite restaurants of the week offered the nicest dishes I tasted over my week there, had a lovely atmosphere and service, and are places I’d love to visit again. My favourite dish in the first restaurant, Osteria de l’Anzolim, wasn’t even my own, but I had a taste and was full of regret and main course envy, a beautiful and light seafood lasagne. I had a lovely linguine marinara that was so full of seafood I couldn’t even finish it. The service was great, the owner quite a character and lots of fun. I’d recommend. The second is slightly off the beaten track, Osteria La Contrada, and serves homemade pasta and bread with regional specialties. Here, they had a whole page of the menu dedicated to the truffle, how could I not indulge? So, I had Tagliatelle ai Tartufo and my friend Risotto, both divine, I am still thinking about them! For now, I’ll leave you with the images, until I can do a version to share with you.