There are times when my life seems to be charmed while other times it is just jinxed. Fortunately, I am at the moment going through a charmed period (long may it last!), eating in one fabulous restaurant after another and staying with a great friend, moving between her beautiful house by the sea to her equally beautiful house in the Tuscan hills.
Just before we left the seaside, we went to a wonderful fish restaurant recommended by friends, La Pineta where the meal was made even more enjoyable by the contrast between the cheap beach tourism outside and the elegant clientèle inside.
The view from our table
We started with an antipasto of millefoglie di bacalau (top picture) and pesce crudo (raw fish) with a couple of oysters. The raw fish was incredibly fresh with no smell at all and it was seasoned to perfection with a drizzle of excellent Tuscan olive oil and a few grains of sea salt. I was particularly taken by the calamar that was cut in long thin strips and coiled on top of a sliver of lemon as if it were pasta.
The selection also included shrimps, one red the other white, that were placed over a langoustine cut in half and they were as sweet and as good as any amaebi I have ever had while the sliced fish (can’t remember what it was) was just as good as any sashimi.
Then for primi, I ordered gnocchi made with squid ink garnished with baby squid and fried courgette flowers while my friend had ravioli filled with seafood and garnished with fried sage. Both absolutely divine.
After that we had fritto misto for my and guazzetto (seafood lightly poached in brodo and served with fagioli) for my friend. Theirs was a superior fritto misto with a great selection of red mullet, tiny filets of other sea fish, baby squid, more shrimp and a few vegetables, all dipped in the lightest batter ever and fried in the cleanest oil before being sprinkled with just enough sea salt so that there was no need to add any more. Utter perfection.
As I went to check out the beach, I passed the kitchen which opened onto the restaurant and saw a woman chef concentrating on garnishing a plate. I snapped her quickly feeling slightly guilty for not having asked permission!
Our lovely waiter, whose twin was also serving, offered us a glass of prosecco as soon as settled, together with the prettiest fried shrimp and the most delicious pane carasau (their own version) for us to nibble while deciding what to order.
When we finished, we wondered whether we should order a dessert. Then we gave in to the temptation of the millefoglie (millefeuille) with crema pasticciera but I have to say we should have resisted. The cream was too cold and the puff pastry was crumbled over it. It was the only relative disappointment in an otherwise perfect meal. But chef Zazzeri made up for it by giving me a signed copy of a lovely book written about him and his restaurant, La Baracca dello Zazzeri.