On the recommendation of Helen, a chowhound regular, we made a detour on the way to Venice, stopping for lunch at Al Molin Vecio in Caldogno, just outside Vicenza. This was perhaps the best meal of our trip. The setting is very special, as the restaurant is a very old mill house they told me which century, but I forgot to write it down with a mill that continues to turn. The dining room is rustic and cosy, with exposed beams and a fairly low ceiling. In nice weather, it is possible to eat outside, in a garden just across an old footbridge, next to the stream that turns the mill wheel. I will make a return trip in spring or summer just to sit outside. The service was also wonderful. Our hostess, a short, red-headed woman, took time to explain the dishes and started us off with complimentary glasses of a very nice prosecco. After we ordered she gave us a terrific wine recommendation that went very well with the food - a red Tocai (Barbarano 2001 Marinoni), something that I had never tried before.
The meal was superb. For appetizers, we had risotto with Novello (young red wine) and beef, maltagliati with thinly sliced beef and spinach in a creamy sauce, risotto with pumpkin and black truffles, and a delicious three-tone soup of chestnut, pumpkin, and squash. It is very hard to say which of these was my favorite. The risottos were cooked perfectly, and the combination of the pumpkin and truffle flavor was memorable. But the maltagliati were so delicate and unusual that I may have to give them the nod.
The secondi were a suitable follow up. Brochettes of pork with polenta, radicchio, and cipollini and Baccala with polenta were both terrific. At the suggestion of our hostess, I tried a traditional local specialty capon cooked in a clay pot, suspended over a little bit of water, infused with a mixture of herbs suspended in cheese cloth in the same pot. This cooking technique produced a very light, tender and flavorful bird, that was served with three different sauces one was spicy and green, a second was brown and sweet, almost chutney-like, and the third I dont recall. This came with very nice spinaci saltati and good mashed potatoes.
For desert we had a moist, rich chocolate cake with strawberry zabaglione and a delicious almond cake with semifreddo. By the way, with coffee and plenty of mineral water, the grand total came to exactly 100 Euros.
Im afraid we didnt leave much room for our dinner that evening at Corte Sconta in Venice. That meal will have to wait for another posting.
al Molin Vecio
Via Giaroni, 56
36030 Caldogno (Vicenza)