Thursday, May 31, 2012

Eating in Italy: Gatto Nero in Cernobbio...George Clooney's favouirite restaurant

Cernobbio, by the shores of Lake Como is a beautiful place. The villas surrounding the lake testify the natural beauty and serinity of the place...the rich and famous have long made their holiday vacations here. The villa used by the recuperating Bond in the latest Casino Royale is by those shores, and not too far away, the villa of George Clooney. And yet a short distance the private retreat of Richard Branson. And up in the little mountain...will be a challenging bicycle ride...some 200m elevation, and I counted more than 6 switchbacks on the steep road up to the little restaurant.

A favourite of George Clooney, this restaurant has seen its share of paparazzi stalking the famous actor trying to catch a photograph of him and his latest squeeze. But we were there for an altogether different reason...for the excellent cuisine and the view to die for....the view from my seat, by the window of the town of Cernobbio.

I was invited as part of the press group from A. Lange & Sohne, joining the dinner was organized by BMW Classic Cars, hosted by Press Head Manfred Grunert. The starters...parma ham and cheese

Needless to say, top quality and absolutely delicious. Note the lean-ness of the parma ham...despite the lack of marbling, was very nicely flavoured and packs a nice wallop.

The wines, Italian, of course

And we started with the first course..primo piatti

A dumpling of sorts...the filo pastry was ultra light, and very crisp. The shredded beef filling was tender, almost to the point of melting. But I found it to be a bit over salted.

Secondi piatti

A lasagna of sorts, but not the usual kind. Within the stack was a very bitter Swiss friend seated next to me loved it, but I found the bitter core a bit disturbing. Not my favourite dish.

Main course, was a seared ahi tuna

This was absolutely marvellous. The tuna was fresh...tender, and had a beautiful flavour and texture. The grilling was done just right, with a nice pink interior, and this time too, the chef made a light sprinkling of sea salt, which elevated the taste. Very very good.

For desserts, home made tiramisu

Truly superb. The entire ensemble melted in the mouth, exploding with the flavours of the alcohol, the cheese, the cream and the chocholate. Marvellous.

We had rounds of limoncello and espressos, and at 11pm, fireworks!

As ordered by BMW...the fireworks were part of the finale celebrations of the Concorso d'Eleganza being held at the Villa D'Este just below Gatto Nero. I had also attended the Concorso, where the most desirable vintage cars were paraded, and judged.

Quite excellent restaurant...we were a group of about 20 that evening...perhaps the kitchen was a bit harrassed...and had a touch too much salt in my first course. But service was excellent. And the food otherwise good...other than my disagreement with the bitter vegetable, which I chalk up as my own inability to cope with a new taste. Recommended if you are in the Lake Como area. Beautiful, romantic restaurant.

Tel. 031 512042

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