While I will miss the last few days of the love-fest between the “basket of deplorables” and armchair liberals, I am faced with quite a difficult decision in choosing my antipasto. I am at Pericles Restaurant in Porto Garibaldi, just south of the Po River delta in Italy. Fortunately, I have the wise counsel of Sheila to advise me, even though she hasn’t been short-listed for the Supreme Court by either candidate. Her only solid credential to become a Justice is her advanced age. It is the only position in government where people with advanced age are respected.
Let me stop ranting and back up a bit. Porto Garibaldi is about an hour’s drive due east from Ferrara. You drive along an elevated road that nearly tracks the River Po punctuated by small farms and villages irrigated by man-made canals that are prevalent along the Po. The land is quite flat but is a vibrant nesting and feeding area for migrating birds.
Porto Garibaldi is just one of a number of small beach towns along the Adriatic that runs north to the Po National Park. With an overcast sky and temperatures well into the 50s, I decided to leave my bathing suit at home.
We were among the first to arrive at Pericles, a relatively modern and non-descript restaurant overlooking the beaches. Nevertheless, the restaurant filled quickly for Sunday lunch. Since they were mostly Italians, we assumed we would dine well.
Pericles specializes in (big surprise!) fish and our waitress was quick to inform us that ALL FISH is caught daily (including Sunday) to insure that we would be dining on the freshest fish available.
We started with a mixed shellfish antipasto. There were two deliciously sweet varieties of crayfish. The small shrimps were among the best I have ever tasted. Also, there were a few very small but tender scallops and some well-cleaned squid.
I had been pressing Sheila for a risotto (they generally only prepare it for two people), and she finally agreed. It is next to impossible to get a decent risotto in most restaurants since it requires constant attention and manual stirring for about 20 minutes. While the image above doesn’t do it justice, this shrimp risotto was made from the broth of the shrimp shells, locally grown rice and only microscopic pieces of shrimp. Superb artistry and a taste/texture that I will remember for many years.
The main course was a mixed platter of grilled fish. The star of this main dish was the grilled eel from Comacchio which is a delicacy in this area. The eel is very rich and somewhat oily but is quite delicious. The other grilled fish were very good, but nothing to match the distinct taste of the eel.
Following lunch, we took a short drive to the small town of Comacchio which is dotted with lovely canals and has a superb fish market. While this town is mainly a summer resort, people come from all around the region to purchase the freshest of fish and the prized Comacchio eel.
It is a day I will not soon forget.
P.S. – A note to the Supreme Court on public bathrooms and gender-rights. In Italy, most of the bathroom facilities are gender-neutral. There is a common sink area to wash your hands and a series of non-gender stalls to void unwanted fluids and solids. No urinals. The interesting wrinkle is that the toilet seat comes up automatically to avoid having poorly-trained or rude males urinate on the communal seat. It also provides some protection from elderly males whose eyesight or “flow” is not up to desired standards. In any event, well over a billion people around the world with no indoor plumbing or clean running water are anxiously awaiting this momentous decision by the Supreme Court. Happy to be in Italy where common sense and civility still prevails.
JOIN FELLOW GOURMANDS and receive our monthly newsletter and news on special promotions. Sign up below.