Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I would be crazy if I didn’t finish my weekend recap because Sunday was the best part. We went to a restaurant that I have been to several times but this time it was very different. What I didn’t know was that Ugo (follow this link to the story of Ugo) has family connections there. That makes a big difference. We sat down to eat around 1:30 and I then wondered, when would we be getting up? (answer: about 5:00 PM) This restaurant has an amazing atmosphere with a stone ceiling and walls that date back hundreds of years (I think they said the 1200's but I can't believe that). Ugo’s zio said it appeared they stored ice and salt here for packing fish. It’s very close to the sea and the fish market (at least where it was hundreds of years ago). I like this review of the restaurant I saw posted on a website, “L’unico posto dove posso mangiare i frutti di mare crudi senza... effetti collaterali!”
Immediately Ugo and Marco were peppering me with questions that were all along the line, “Have you ever tried…?” I knew this was going to be a marathon of eating. The first dish was riccio di mare or sea urchins. Now this is not new to me because last summer I ate “ricci allo scoglio” which is eating sea urchins as you snorkel. I will say in the restaurant they were better because you use bread to scoop up the insides (which are eggs) and eat. I like them but there just isn’t much to eat so I don’t seek them out. I think I need to bring bread with me when I go snorkeling in the summer.
The next dish was “schiuma di mare” which is literally “sea foam”. Well as you can see in the picture it is actually very young fish. They are served raw and in a big mass that is a gel full of eyes. Put a little lemon juice, olive oil, and maybe some pepper and then eat. It was a strange texture and I’m not a big fan it. Ugo says it’s getting harder to find places where you can catch fish in clean enough water to eat them raw. So this dish is getting rare. Another plate came out but it was oysters and several types of clam, raw. I had the nerve to only try one raw “noci di mare” (clam). It tasted and smelled like my salt-water fishtank when it hadn’t been cleaned in looong time. Sorry, no good. I didn’t even try a raw oyster.

After these experimental dishes they brought out a more regular selection of antipasti. My favorite would have be this grilled tuna fillet with pesto sauce in the photo. It just looked, smelled, and tasted so good.
For my primi a “linguini e vongole” (linguini and clams) seemed a good way to go. It’s one of those dishes that I have to make for myself one of these days. But since I’m from the Midwest I need someone to help me select the right clams. In the meantime I’ll enjoy the dish at the restaurant. I think everyone else had pasta with scampi! Antonella and I were the only ones not to continue with a secondi. My eyes had seen the deserts and I was going to make sure I could have one.
To end the meal we had a good lemon sorbet to cleanse the mouth of fish. Then I had some chocolate cake (with a surprising amount of liquor in it) and my first zeppola of the season. Erika is seen here with 3 zeppole that disappeared from that plate in front of her. I honestly don’t know how she ate all 3 after everything else. She said one fell on the floor but I didn’t see any evidence of that!


Stelle In Italia said...

looks like quite a meal, but i must admit, the zeppole look the best! what a meal!

Jeff Gromen said...

Thanks, it was a good meal but nothing like that this weekend. However, now the zeppole are everywhere! As you have probably seen.

dana said...

You're braver than I am, trying the schiuma di mare. The sheer number of eyeballs would be unnerving. Everything else looks delicious though, especially the zeppole!

Cherrye said...

Hey Jeff! Glad to see you blogging...I had no idea. This is the 3rd time in a week I have read people talking about eating sea urchin...all I can think of is the Little Mermaid, but, hey - I'll try anything once (well almost)...

Jeff Gromen said...

You have to try these things. It's like the old saying you really never know.
I think sea urchin is a bit of an acquired taste and Italians that live by the sea have acquired it so you'll hear about often. I could go see the Little Mermaid and say. "Hey, So-and-so there tastes pretty good." The kids would love that that.