Monday, October 24, 2005

Rome - Al Bric

Brrrr, Brrrr. It’s the cell phone... I always keep it in silent mode. It drives me crazy, concentrated on some problem, deep in your thoughts, and some music or screeching sound goes off. It then takes me 10 minutes to get back to the level of concentration I had before.


“David, come stai??? Enough Italian, we have arrived. Al is tired and is going to bed but, we thought we would come over, say hi and maybe have a drink,” Deanne stated.

Deanne, her husband Al and another friend of ours, John, had come to visit us in Rome.

“Sure, we still have some things to finish, but give us an hour and we can go someplace,” I responded.

As I returned to my work, “Raffaella, that was Deanne on the phone, they are coming over later for drinks, where do you want to go?”

Surprisingly quick she responded, “Vino e Formaggio.”

Al Bric had been Vino e Formaggio since that Saturday night we walked down via del Pellegrino from our place, a street over in via Monserrato. Cars were parked on both sides of the street and we had to navigate oncoming traffic, dodging in and out of the parked cars. We arrived at the entrance without realizing it. We tried to open the door but it appeared to be locked.

One of the waiters arrived, pulled hard and the door swung open. Our first vision was bottles and bottles of wine neatly stacked around the entrance and an eight-foot high wine cooler stuffed to the brim. A large book sat on a pedestal immediately to the left of the door. As the waiter asked us if we wanted to eat, I glanced at the book. It was a wine list. It had to be a fake, because this book was a big as an exposition bible or how you would imagine a 17th century spell book. I turned the pages convinced to find them blank, instead more wines, another couple of pages, again more wines. Wow!

The waiter accompanied us to a table in the back room of the restaurant. The walls of the entire establishment were covered with wooden wine case covers. I knew many of the wines, but was amazed that there was rarely the same cover twice. The heavy long tables were light ash, and the seats were chairs toward the isle and cushioned benches against the wall. As we arrived in the back room, with a glass wall that faced the street, I saw the old farmers table with the wine, bread and cheese.

The waiter sat us down, but us had become me, Raffaella never made it past the cheese table. There were all kinds of cheeses, soft, hard, spiced, and aged. After about 10 minutes of surveying the room, Raffaella arrived and our waiter appeared seconds after.

“Wine”, I asked? I expected the typical wine list or for the waiter to suggest something that might go well with the food of the restaurant.

He responded, “When you are ready to order the wine, there is a book at the front entrance. You may choose anything in the book or if you prefer, I might suggest something.”

That was all Raffaella needed as a prompt, and she was gone again. I thought this would be a good time to look over the menu’. I had a feeling this would be a several bottle evening. “The bench is comfortable, we can do this”, I thought to myself. The menu’ presented some interesting plates.

Antipasti: various types of Bruschetta, dried meats (salumi), and pate’ of various fish.
First Plates: various type of pasta with meat or fish sauces, gnocchi, and a fish soup.
Second Plates: Both meat and fish.

Then comes dessert. Although “al Bric” makes several inviting desserts they have a chocolate lover’s delight, the Marchesa. This is a chocolate cake filled with molten dark chocolate and chocolate gelato on the side. I see that they have substituted the molten dark chocolate filling with an English cream – made with a 50/50 mix of pastry cream and whipped cream – spiked with mint. I am sure this is just as interesting, but I would go for the chocolate in chocolate.

We still have not spoken of the cheeses. The waiter will prepare a plate of cheeses he feels go well together or you can choose your own selection. Either way this is a meal unto itself.

That night after dried meats with a Prosecco from Franciacorta, Raffaella scarfed down, with great class, several plates of cheese while I enjoyed handmade pasta with a very simple meat sauce, followed by the tagliata. Dessert, of course, was the Marchesa. We ordered a 1996 Tignanello.

Tignanello is a full bodied, complex enough to clean the palate from both the cheese and the meat, Tuscany with a long smooth finish. Given the intensity of the Marchesa I was also pleased continuing the Tignanello into dessert.

Deanne and John arrived, took a tour of the office, and waited while we tied things up. A quick “ciao’, ciao’, welcome to Italy” and we were off. Our guests had no idea what they were in for. They intended a drink or two and back to the hotel. Since Al was still in the hotel room, she did not bring the keys.

Three hours, and several bottles of wine, later they were back to the hotel. John had the key to enter, doors get locked after midnight, and they parted ways. While John entered his room, Deanne had a different fate. She knocked, trying not to wake everyone on the floor, knocked again, and again. Al was sound asleep, so Deanne waited, and knocked, and waited. Perhaps it was the dinner, the wine or just the fact that she was on vacation, because she knocked and waited patiently. Finally, after several hours, Al came to the door and she made it to bed, happy as a lark, and thought, “Ah, Vino e Formaggio…”


Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home