Teo loves freshwater shrimp. I really don’t know if they are what I used to call crayfish or crawdads or a european cousin, but here they are just gamberi di fiume, or “river shrimp” to most of us.
Teo is part of the gang of kids that my daughters hang out with when we are in Navelli for the holidays. Is father is from a nearby town of Bussi, just downstream on the Tirino river from Capestrano (the original one) and finally we were able to accept his invitation to their favorite restaurant in the area: Il Salice.
The restaurant’s name means willow, recalling outdoor summer feasts when this tiny eatery’s tables multiply out into the garden and overlooking terrace. In the winter it’s a cozy, reservation only, family run trattoria with a fireplace in the corner and black and white photos of the town Bussi in the twenties and thirties scattered along the walls.
Bussi, like Capestrano, Popoli and other towns along the Tirino and the nearby source of the Pescara river are famous for trout and freshwater shrimp, often so fresh they were swimming in the untreated water from a nearby brook just a few hours or even minutes before reaching your plate.
Some of my friends who are passionate about seafood frown upon fresh water fish and crustaceans, and they are right that there is much more variety in the salty sea. But why close your options.
Fernanda runs the place with motherly care and Francesca, her daughter, adds skill and passionate creativity in the kitchen (more on her creations in later post). Freshwater shrimp look a lot like their counterparts in the sea, and the taste is similar, just a little more delicate. After a huge, tasty and surprising (more next time) tableful of antipasti we were off to the first course: homemade maccheroni alla chitarra (Abruzzo’s most famous pasta form, similar to thick, spaghetti) with either a light tomato sauce with stewed shrimp. For those of you who can’t or don’t eat tomatoes, Fania loved the tomatoless version they served her.
Then, stuffed to the gills, came the colpo di grazia, platters full of shiny red shrimp, saltati in white wine, olive oil, and laurel. As a kid I would have hated it, all that work cracking them open for so little food. But Teo is not like I was, or anyone at lunch yesterday.
The wine was one of my favorite: Cataldi Madonna’s Cerasuolo, the local rosé made from Montepulciano D’Abruzzo grapes in the nearby town of Ofena. Good rosés are not compromises, and in the winter I think they sometimes go better with seafood.
(If you’re reading this on Facebook, the original post is here: carbonara.wordpress.com)