Tag Archives: natural wine

Cesare al Casaletto

The first time I went to Italy was in 2007. I gained thirty pounds in nine weeks.

Quattordici chili,” a pudgy-cheeked version of me would boast, as if saying the words in Italian made them somehow meritorious. I dropped two pants sizes — first 30, then 32 — before the trip’s end. And I ate in my first Michelin three-starred restaurant in jeans, because slacks were by then an impossible dream. Moderation has always been a problem for me.

Over time I’ve learned that in Rome there is no moderating guanciale. Tonight at Cesare al Casaletto I encounter the first piece, thick like tree bark, leaned casually against a plump pile of tonnarelli like the bouncer at a nightclub door — the carbonara gatekeeper. I dodge it at first, not to avoid the precious pork but to skewer it last, with a swirl of noodles. A fine varnish of egg yolk, pecorino and pepper holds it together. The bite looks, I reckon, just about perfect. But it’s not for me — it’s for a girl back home. She loves carbonara. Continue reading

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In De Wulf

There’s no such thing as trying to eat. One eats or one doesn’t. And half-hearted promises are as loathsome as air kisses and limp handshakes. So when I told a guy named Kobe that I would come to a town called Dranouter, I meant it. Now I’m In De Wulf.

This place is in de middle of nowhere, so we’ll stay the night in the guest rooms upstairs. But this afternoon, ambassadors from France, Spain, China and the US convene in the lounge — a UN of restaurant junkies. Friends old and new have just eaten lunch, while my buddy Jose and I await dinner. 3,600 miles from my house, I am at home. Continue reading

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Le Dauphin

I am not a morning person, and Le Dauphin is, perhaps, not an afternoon restaurant. Better to go at night, when the experience mimics that of a dinner party squeezed into a newly-renovated bathroom — all cacophony and clean white marble. You might end up, as we have, at a small table near the huge front windows. The challenge here is distinguishing between the nearby figures having a smoke to take a break from the meal and those having a meal to take a break from smoking. I am not French enough to discern the difference.

Our server, somehow, is the chef. I drag my finger along the menu, stopping ten times. Sadly, he speaks French far too well to understand what the hell I’m mumbling. He drops his notepad and a pen on the table, and walks away coolly. I like his style. Continue reading

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