This restaurant in Clusane d’Iseo specializes in lakefish or riverfish (pesce d’acqua dolce) and is a new listing in the Slow Food Osterie d’Italia 2011 guide. The interior has a lovely decor of brick rose-colored walls with accents of cream, dark wooden tables that looked like they hosted more than their fair share of gracious meals, and even A/C for a particuarly hot afternoon when we visited in September. The only thing to one-up the cool factor was the ice bag that kept our vinified white wine (Pinot Nero vinificato in bianco) at a constant chill.
Two antipasti, 2 primi, 1 secondo, 1 contorno and 1 dolce. When it comes to freshwater fish it really does help to have some knowledge (or a dictionary), and although I’m with the group that says seafood is the tastier of the two, the masterminds of italian cooking can turn out anything into a tempting palette of colors, textures and flavors. Not into fish? The menu also has meat options. Total including wine, water, 2 coffees and coperto: 86€
An assortment of interesting tastes for those who want it all (or have a hard time choosing). Clockwise from far left: insalata di gamberi d’acqua dolce (crayfish salad), insalata di luccio (pike salad), alborelle in carpione (marinated sweet-sour common bleak), pesce affumicato (smoked trout on toast), sardina di lago alla maniera del pescatore (shad prepared fisherman-style with parsley and olive oil of the area, served on a slice of grilled polenta), and lastly, crayfish salad on rice.
My full portion-size of that crayfish salad with mixed vegetables. It came with a small orb of pale orange something that I can only guess is ricotta cheese mixed with crayfish reduction. Very fresh and pleasant flavors with a squeeze of lemon.
Housemade tagliolini with sardine del Sebino (shad from the lake) at left and with crayfish at right. The term sardine is confusing as what immediately comes to mind are those sold in a small rectangular tin, but these are definitely worlds apart in flavor. For the secondo, filetto di coregone in sfoglia di patate (European whitefish wrapped in veil-thin slices of potato and baked). You could barely see the translucent potato crust but it complimented the dish. Fried zucchini flowers as a vegetable side.
When our server dropped off a small plate of what looked to be Alka-Seltzer tablets, I was stumped. And then he returned with a small pitcher of a strong citrus-scented liquid and poured it over them. Voila! Instant handwipes and a show the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Now this is where it gets interesting because of all the housemade desserts that I could have chosen, I picked the fruttini gelato. Frozen gelato fruits (I’ve made them before) are a calabrian thing from the south so my guess is that the restaurant adds these to the summer menu. I thought it was strictly fruits that were used, but there was peanut, chestnut and walnut along with the kumquat, fig, strawberry and date. If you’re wondering how are you supposed to bite into a frozen nut, that’s where the spoons come in. There is no dainty way of eating these, and in the end I ignored the spoon (you’re going to pick them up with fingers anyway), split open the walnut and ate it like how you would attack an Oreo cookie.
Trattoria del Muliner
Via S. Rocco 16, Clusane d’Iseo (Brescia)
Closed on Tuesday | http://www.trattoriadelmuliner.it