The Wine and the Willows – The Prequel
Il Salice, the little family run restaurant just outside Bussi, is all about trout and italian river shrimp. Their pasta dishes are delicious and genuine, but that was only part of what made that lunch so memorable.
The antipasti (starters) were even better. Slices of trout cold with sweet red local onions and olive oil, a sample of trout and river shrimp stewed in tomatoes, grilled eggplant and red peppers. Wonderful food but other great little places in the Tirino river valley can do the same. But thee creative masterpieces blew us away.
The first was a hot, steaming stew of trout, white beans, porcine mushrooms and saffron. A dish that was both refined and hearty, mixing flavors that I would have expected to wrestle with each other but instead sung like a friends singing Christmas carols.
But it was not my favorite.
Then there was the river shrimp salad. A crisp, colorful mix of cool, sliced apples, tarocco blood oranges, fennel, pomegranate seeds and delicate, shelled italian river shrimp. We fought over seconds and thirds, but still it wasn’t my favorite.
But I’m still suffering a crisis of abstinence from the faux shrimp sauce. Served in little terracotta dishes, at first glance it looked like a dip for celery. A white cream with little pink dots and a generous garnish of crushed roast pistachios. You were supposed to spoon it over fireplace toasted slices of bread. The texture was similar to tapioca pudding with sliced of almonds (not visible from above). The little pink pips gave the impression of being tine little pieces of boiled shrimp, at first, but it was manly because of the fresh water crustacean them of the entire day. I thought plucking the seeds from a pomegranate were a pain, here someone had peeled and separated each tiny tip from a sweet, pink grapefruit, swirled it into fresh yoghurt with almond slices, and sprinkled the tiny green nuts that I love on top. I felt like a kid who had just discovered a huge, unguarded jar of Nutella.
So what do italian river shrimp, saffron and pink grapefruit have in common?
I love eating all of them.
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