We were on our way from Tuscany to Venice and didn't realize until we saw the signs that we would be passing through Soave. Many hound know Soave as the name of the light white wine it produces. I'm normally not a big fan of Italian whites and I've had plenty of poor quality Soaves but apparently there are smaller producers making great stuff. So we pulled off the highway.
The restaurant that seemed to have the most local diners was TRATTORIA DA AMEDEO . What a pleasure! We sat outside and looked at simple but very beautiful plates around us. They do not have a wine list but have several local wines open at a time. We tried 2 different whites. The first was very light and not especially interesting but refreshing nonetheless. The second was very good and reminded me of lighter bodied French Sauvignon blancs that I've tasted. Wonderful.
We started with a local sausage that was fattier and more flavorful than much of what we had in Italy. A real rustic flavor. We also shared a small plate of polenta with mushrooms. This is the kind of dish that one eats and then becomes thankful that God created butter because the buttery richness is so satisfying. Surprisingly, the dish contains no butter. It's just that the polenta itself has a rich flavor on its own and then the raw olive oil drizzled over the top has a buttery undertone. Really a great dish.
We also shared two superb pastas. One was a simple pasta dish with pesto which is served a lot in this region. Very fresh tasting and nicely balanced. The second pasta was tossed with cream, peas, mushrooms, and a tiny bit of speck. Wow. I almost thought that this could be the dish served to professional tasters to help bring out the flavors of white wines. It was rich (though not as rich as it might sound) and the peas were only slightly cooked so the dish had a fresh snap to it that was so nice with the cream. The speck was salty and gave the pasta just a hint of meatiness.
Most importantly, the owners of this place were two of the nicest people we had met. They showed such sincere interest in their food and in our experience and talked to us for a good 15 minutes after our meal. They also told us about a new movie with Vanessa Redgrave that had recently been shot in Soave about a student who comes to Soave to study food and falls in love. I'm sure in a year or so we'll all know what it is but I can't remember the specifics.
Next is Venice.