The day: 22nd March 2009, Lunch.
The place: 38061 Sega di Ala (Trento, IT) (tel: 0464-671253
The venue: Albergo Monti Lessini
The food: Local Italian
The drinks: No wine list, a handful of choices are offered to you verbally.
We were saying in our scathing review last week that we are not at all snobby curmudgeons averse in to simple, rustic food…Here’s an example.
After an extremely leisurely excursion (Man is recovering from another visit here) with ski racquets on the beautiful Monti Lessini (in the pre-Alps, really recommended for tranquil family outings),
As we enter we immediately spot, guided by our dessert antennas, some trays with strudel and a very appetising cake, and, since we have arrived late and the room is full, we are overcome by the fear that they finish before we can have some…so we implore the husband and wife managing the room to save a couple of slices for us…The request is accepted. Our desserts are assured. Our minds at rest, we can now focus on the other offers, mostly local and traditional dishes. We begin with some which are suitable for our appetites:
– Tortelli di monte e noci al tartufo della Lessinia (tortelli mountain style with walnuts and local truffle) €6.60
– Tagliolini all’ asino (asino = donkey) €5
Both dishes are generous, generously flavoured and generously doused in butter, the unusual donkey, vaguely gamey but not quite, being the intriguing bit. Don’t look for balance in them: this is really as traditional as you can get. We have noticed that in this part of Italy the cooking of the pasta tends to the overdone, and here’s no exception. But in such honest, satisfying, intense dishes, we can more than take it!
We are happy but still hungry…so next we have:
– Capriolo (roe-deer) in salmi’ con polenta €9
– Stinco di maiale al forno (roasted pork shank) €6.50
Salmi’ is a classic preparation, involving a marinating stage of the meat in wine, vagetable and spices, and then a slow cooking in casserole. It is just perfect for game meats, and if properly executed the effect is guaranteed. This one is well executed, the only slightly disappointing bit being the polenta.
The lamb shank may not be cooked as refinedly as in starred resturants, but look at the beautiful colours resulting from this homely cooking. It has retained moistness and the flavour is really neat and pleasant.
We are now even happier, but of course we still have space for the desserts we had spotted in the beginning:
– Strudel di mele (2.80)
– Torta di noci (walnut cake) (€2.80)
These desserts do not disappoint. Oh no, they don’t. The strudel appears in a terrible foto which does not render justice to its goodness, balance and perfect consistency, soft and rightly wet.
The walnut cake may look dry, and so we feared: but it was instead surprisingly soft and light, the walnuts coming out potently on your palate. Of course, in a more sophisticated establishment it would have been accompanied by some custard or ice cream or other liquid elements: but this IS home cooking!
For drinks we had a bottle of Rebo Cantina d’Isera ‘Nove Sette’ 2005 (good) at a very, very honest €14, a bottle of water at €2, and coffees at an incredible €0.90 each! The total is a heart-warming €58.40.
The service, provided by husband, wife and daughter, is naturally friendly but also efficient and professional. We will not say that this is a destination place which you should travel to exclusively for the cuisine. Even for a traditional trattoria, the cuisine does not, in fact, achieve the intensity of flavours and quality of materials that you find, for example, at Franca Merz’s. But we WILL say that we ate very well here: not one poor dish in sight and some excellent ones, with our gluttony instinct attended to in a full and pleasant way. A nice example of ‘granny’ Italian cooking style in a professional kitchen, with a welcoming environment inside, and in a splendid setting outside: so, overall, a trip IS recommended for the whole package! This family has set up an intelligent and deeply honest operation, which is succesful for what we could see (packed room), and for which we’d like to congratulate them.