As much as I love documenting my meals, this trip write-up is starting to feel never-ending, heh. Third out of four though! So after our travel plan U-turn, we headed back to Sanremo, re-opened the house, unpacked all of our stuff, and a Google search or two later, we found our destinations and made all the necessary reservations for the next couple of days. In case you haven’t noticed, we planned our trip around our meals. Such gluttons!
Lunch at A Viassa, in Dolceacqua
Somehow I was expecting a countryside eatery, all dark wood interior. Instead it’s more contemporary, and mostly empty by the time we arrived around 13:30. The clientele were mostly French, and seemed like they made the trip ‘specially. Must be a good sign!
And we were not disappointed. Great choice by Renzo. Sometimes I feel that friends stress out (unnecessarily so!) when I ask them to pick an eatery for us to try out. Not Renzo. He’s all “Trust me on this” confidence, the only way a well-versed Italian foodie can be.
Barbagiuai, also known as Barbajuan, is a regional Western Ligurian and eastern French Riviera dish. Wikipedia says it’s Monaco’s national dish. It’s like a ravioli but deep-fried until crispy.
Did I mention that Renzo makes me walk well over 10K a day? Yeah, my iPhone/Health app told me.
A detox dinner chez Renzo
As we drove back from Dolceacqua, Renzo asked what I wanted for dinner and I answered, “Insalata caprese! Oh, but with burrata instead of mozzarella.” He was happy to oblige and we stopped by the grocery store to pick up ingredients. Including a four-pack of Lurisia Chinotto, which I really love (but rarer to find in Berlin), and some craft beer.
In the end, it wasn’t an insalata Caprese. We had a tomato salad with the heirloom tomatoes we bought and the basil Renzo found growing in the planters in the balcony. The burrata was served on the side, sprinkled with black pepper and olive oil. We also had the bread and the wild boar prosciutto. So simple, so good.
Sugar rush at breakfast
More leftovers. As usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomach when I bought a dozen macarons from Patisserie LAC in Nice. Took us a while to finish it; we each had two macarons for breakfast before calling it quits from sugar overload. I had a yoghurt and an apple to trick myself into believing I was eating healthy.
Lunch at Mirazur, Menton
My way to thank Renzo for being such a lovely host and travel companion was to take him to lunch at Mauro Colagreco’s Mirazur, just over the border in Menton, France. I had tried to book a table for the Sunday but they were booked out. So when our Verona plans got cancelled, I immediately booked a table for two for Thursday lunch at 13:30.
Truth be told, when we went, neither of us realised that Mirazur is #4 on that (in)famous World’s Best 50 Restaurant List for 2017. I had shortlisted it on my trip list, scanned the menu quickly without checking pedigree and made the reservation.
I wanted to go for the 6-course lunch Inspiration Menu but Renzo talked me out of it. Sanity checker, yes. So we had the lunch Discovery Menu instead, which was originally four plates but we somehow received five plates. Plus the five (!) amuse-bouche that preceded the meal, the intermediate cheese plate, and the four petits-fours. Ridiculous. In a really good way.
To start with, we each had a sparkling wine. The first amuse-bouche was smoked spheres of mozzarella (!) with black salt. Mind boggling. The second was a cylindrical wrap of grapefruit (?) and red beet (?) slices dotted with black sesame seeds and topped with an aioli. Overall, my favourite amuse-bouche were #1, #4 and #5.
I loved the way the squid was sliced lengthways; we could twirl our forks around it, and eat it like tagliatelle. Delicately, perfectly seared too. My mind boggles at the preparation.
At this point, cheese cart was rolled around. Renzo and I typically come to a decision quickly, but this time we argued round and round as the man patiently waited. I had to make the disclaimer to him, “We are not married to each other, so what you’re witnessing here is NOT a domestic dispute.” I think years of experience kept him from laughing out loud but a smile crept up, a twinkle in his eye.
Finally, I win the negotiations. Cheese plate to share!
I’d been messaging with Andreas almost all week, and he’d been telling me about his dessert experiments using olive oil. Fresh strawberries, sour cream, olive oil. I’ve heard of olive oil cake, and olive oil ice cream, although sceptical of the latter. This dessert knocked it out of the park. OK, Andreas, you’re onto something, I’m with you on this one.
Yeah, this is a pretty freakin’ amazing lunch. I was glowing afterwards.
Dinner at Ü Funtanin, Ventimiglia
After a post-Mirazur nap, we drove over to Antica Osteria Ü Funtanin in Ventimiglia for dinner. This was the place we wanted to eat at on our way back from Nice last Monday but they were unfortunately all booked out. It’s a small eatery located on the periphery of Ventimiglia’s alta citta/centro storico (historical center); Renzo had eaten here before with his friend Giancarlo and he raved about it.
The pasta con le sarde screamed out at me and I had to have it. It sounded so homey, I love sardines and pasta. Typically I do mine with lemon, garlic and breadcrumbs, but I will definitely steal this recipe to make at home.
The Vermentino tonight and the Pigato from the Mirazur lunch are clone grapes but tasted completely different. I actually preferred this one because it was dry but in a really soft way. The one from lunch was more astringent and had nutty undertones which complimented the fish.
A fab way to end our seaside trip!
We finished dinner around 23:30 and Renzo had the idea to drive to Monte Carlo and race around the Formula 1 Monca circuit. And we did just this. No photographic evidence, unfortunately.
Back to Torino for the final leg of the trip!
Oh man, what a week! We’ve got our drive to Torino today and one-and-a-half days left before Renzo puts me on a plane back to Berlino. I’m really happy that we had this time together.
See you in the last trip write-up!