Category Archives: italian cuisine

Rainy day cassoeula

Rainy rainy May

Not that it’s raining NOW, but with the crazy weather we’ve been experiencing this month, today’s sunny skies and 85°F could just as well go back to last week’s wet and 60°. The first 10 days of May felt very much like early spring – a lot of showers to bring on the flowers. During that period we opened the last bag of heat ‘n serve cassoeula from La Cassoeula del Togn. It’s a new start-up business that takes an old family recipe and markets it with home delivery service. Brilliant!

Heat and eat cassoeula

We didn’t actually get delivery since we wanted to check out the restaurant and pick up our order at the same time. We left with 5 bags at 10€ each which is a great value considering how much work goes into making this traditional winter dish of pork ribs, skin and cabbage. Each vacuum-packed portion is a generous 500 grams and wrapped in a jute bag. Add to a pot along with a small amount of water, heat, and serve!

Cassoeula del Togn

We’re a bit critical when it comes to the quality of any cassoeula other than my late mother-in-law’s, but I have to say that La Cassoeula del Togn’s is really, really good. I mean, just look at how gorgeous it is. Makes me wish that it would rain some more.

The princess always sits at the top

As I mentioned earlier, the temps were chilly in early May but the dogs had their own way of keeping toasty. Place a pillow on the dachshund and the westie will climb right on top like it’s her damn right.

Sagra dei Pesci

Castiglione della Pescaia – And on the 4th day, there was a fish sagra.

Sagra dei Pesci

The evening before heading back home, we considered the idea of dinner service offered by the agriturismo’s hosts (the owner is a fisherman and cooks up these fabulous, multi-course meals), but then I had to spot this fish festival poster above. OH yes!

Regular readers know of my mad enthusiasm for traditional food events, and there was no question about where we’d dine that night. Held at a sports camp in the neighborhood of Casa Mora, we got there early before the crowds rolled in.

The menu was primarily fish with a couple of meat options thrown in for carnivores.

Sarde marinate con cipolla Tortelli al pesce
Baby sardines with onions — Spinach and ricotta-stuffed tortelli in octopus sauce

Tagliolini del pescatore Calamari ripieni in salsa
Tagliolini in a tomato-based seafood sauce — Stuffed calamari

It doesn’t look like we ate much but there was still some cheese, salumi and wine back at the cottage. Prices were a tad higher (altogether we spent 34€ which included service and a cup of beer), but that’s the norm for fish dishes in Italy anyway. The sagra was also open to dogs, so there wasn’t a problem with our two.

The following morning it was goodbye to our donkey companions (the westie saluted them with a woof!) and a promise to return soon. In October, not far from the agriturismo, there’s a festival serving mushroom dishes, chestnuts, wine, polenta, and wild boar. Che bontà!

La Dolce Vita - goodbye donkeys!

And the winner of the best cazoeùla in Cantù is…

Cazoeùla on the menu
Our favorite pick this year: cazoeùla at Le Querce.

…not who we were rooting for. Well, there’s always next year. La Cascina di Mattia took the trophy, bringing the 5th Festival della Cazoeùla to an end. Like last year, we had lunch at 3 (first time visits) of the 9 participating restaurants and our vote went to Le Querce. That’s a plate of their cazoeùla above. It was perfect: fork-tender pork rib, melt-in-your-mouth pork skin (cotenne), both green and white parts of the cabbage, excellent balance of flavors and not too salty. It was so good that it even warranted another photo after attacking the rib.

Cazoeùla-licking good
Rib-lickin’ good!

Coming in 2nd: Osteria del Km Zero. The odd thing about this place is that our plates came out less than 10 minutes after we ordered. Assembly line in the kitchen? The cazoeùla was good, but the experience was far from memorable.

Cazoeùla - 'tis the season!
Wiki wiki cazoeùla for quick eaters

And bringing up the rear: La Nuvoa Rustica. Pork rib so tough that I had to chew forever but it wasn’t enough, which made it impossible to get a balanced mouthful of cabbage and pork going down the hatch at the same time. I felt like one of those jaw-grinding dieters who chew in order to trick their minds (and stomachs) into thinking that it has had enough.

Cazoeùla at La Nuova Rustica
I am not full, I am not full, I have been tricked!