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Report - On from Bologna to Piacenza, Gazzola di Rivalta, Bobbio and Pavia

jen kalb | May 10, 201707:46 PM

After 6 nights staying in Bologna, we continued our trip by car back to Milano, via Piacenza province, new to us, where we spent two nights at the Residenza di Torre San Martino at the Castello di Rivalta.

After a brief visit to Chiaravalle Abbey we stopped to spend several hours in Piacenza (worth much more time than we had for it on this visit) where we enjoyed a relaxing and tasty friday lunch at slowfood Osteria Santo Stefano. The osteria, which is owned by a very cordial family, has a lovely garden out back. After a plate of typical Piacentini cured meats (coppa, pancetta and salami)accompanied by the best pickles of the visit, Jim and I dug into excellent tailed tortelli and my plate of pisarei e faso, followed up with a rich dark dish of gelatinous cuts from a pigs head. They were offering bomba di riso, a wonderful dish with pigeon which i had craved for years, that day but in a quantity feeding 3, for 32E. The son of the family told us that people often took the excess home - and so we observed. The dish looked amazing and I somewhat regret not ordering since as it turned out we had an opportunity to eat leftovers later in the visit. Doggy bags are alive and well in Piacenza province.

The pisarei e faso, made with small dumpling like pasta nubs, beans, tomatoes and cured pork, was particularly wonderful, I was sorry not to be able to try other renditions later on this trip. We drank glasses of a tasty gutturnio superiore (a blend of barbera and bonarda which we enjoyed throughout our visit to the province) by the glass since my husband was driving. Excellent stop!

We reached Rivalta which is less than 1/2 hour from Piacenza with time for a walk before our dinner reservation at Antica Locanda del Falco, which was the only reservation we made ahead of time for this trip. the castle is set above the very scenic, braided Trebbia river, but we had to hike down to the river to enjoy the views (grrr) and then find our way back via a poorly marked trail. By the time we returned, one way or another ,we had worked off most of the lunch and were ready for this meal. the restaurant is lovely an unusual mix of local and international, simple and ambitious - clientele seemed mostly regional and local people from the cars in the lot. It is well known for its cuisine and its Japanese chefs. Here is the current menu we ordered from:

Here is what we had:
- Another very good gutturnio wine from a local maker
- The mixed appetizer, consisting of another plate of local cured meats, with two plates of pickles (enormous quantity -the eggplant was particularly good, and a rather puzzling salad of cold merluzzo with olives, olive paste and onions which had been slightly pickled in raspberry vinegar. Im a big lover of cured and white fish but this was fairly bland and the vinegar caused me to recollect a lot of bad food....
- A large vat of anolini in capon broth for Jim - the cordial host urged him on eating it until it was all gone!
- A very interesting dish of green pea gnocchi with peas, bits of sicilian red shrimp and, possibly bonito flakes? - see accompanying pic - it was tender, delicious and elusive
- Lamb chops crusted with a puzzling asian looking garnish, perfectly cooked but not too interesting
- A dynamite piece of roasted suckling pig for me, with a ginger and honey sauce -these flavorings were not obvious, the whole thing was delicious and huge - also with a puzzling garnish - we enjoyed a leftover piece on our last morning in Pavia.

We were too full to sample the desserts - but it was a relaxing 3 hours in a pleasant room with delicious regional and creative flavors using mainly very local ingredients, and fine warm hospitality well worth the trip and about 95% wonderful.

I will report on the related shop and the second restaurant in the Castello and the remainder of the trip in a follow up post.

Osteria San Stefano - cured meats

Osteria San Stefano - tortelli

Osteria San Stefano - pisarei e faso

Locanda del Falco - cured meats

Locanda del Falco - iinsalata di merluzzo with olives

Locanda del Falco - pickles

Locanda del Falco gutturnio

gutturnio - description

Locanda del Falco - pea gnocchi

Locanda del Falco - anolini

Locanda del Falco - roast suckling pig

Locanda del Falco - roast lamb

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