The descent and then the lake. We arrive there from Como, along a narrow road overhanging the lake, crossing built-up areas offering to the eye the opening up of tranquil and charming views: small sailboats moving around, the opposite bank covered in lush vegetation. This is how we discover CastaDiva, set like jewel in the Lake Como shore.
Andra Luri, the General Manager, is expecting me. I like this place, and now I have the opportunity to see the restaurant's new glazed veranda, which allows to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings even in bad weather.
I meet Massimiliano Mandozzi, the chef from the Marches who has recently taken command of the kitchen, and we launch into a conversation on restaurant cuisine, which I tend to favour when not many explanations are needed to understand what you eat.
We place our order and, while we are waiting, the maitre comes bringing a white soup plate, with a tortello (a big raviolo) in the middle. On serving it, he suggests that the kitchen staff recommends to eat it in one bite, and lists for us the main ingredients: home-made pasta filled with fossa pecorino cheese, bitter almond cream, sea urchin pulp and wild herbs, copious crushed black pepper.
I am perplexed at having to eat it all in one bite. Gingerly, in the meantime, I enjoy the colours that compose it, the green, yellow, white, red - a well-executed chromatic picture.
Never was gastronomic advice more appreciated: a blend of tastes that merge together though maintaining their distinctiveness. Surely, the outcome would not have been the same if the tortello had been divided, without releasing the completeness of taste afforded by the perfection and amalgamation of its ingredients.
An acquaintance of mine comes in, and I get up to greet him. We exchange the usual pleasantries, and after a few minutes I sit down again. A miracle: the taste is still alive, filling my palate.
The meal - excellent - goes on, but I am left with the regret of not having found some company for that lonely tortello.
They say you don't age at the table, but the hours go by anyway, and the time comes to head back to the office. We can always go back again, however, and this is what restaurants should hope for: that their guests leave them with regret, and going back is a coveted priority.
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