Sunday, April 4, 2010

La Pasqua con Chi Vuoi – Easter Lunch at Angelino’s

Last Sunday I was at Angelino’s for lunch when Pasquale suggested I try a piece of “Pastiera” for dessert. When I asked what that was, he said it was a traditional Neapolitan tort prepared at Easter made in part from wheat berries, ricotta, candied citrus rind and “orange flower water.” I tried a slice and it was fantastic. When Pasquale told me they would be serving the dish on Easter Sunday along with roast goat (capretto) and a few other Easter specialties, I knew where I would be for lunch that day.

Easter Sunday started off overcast and cool this morning, and by the time Nancy and I got to Angelino’s at lunchtime it was raining hard with a cold wind. What happened to Spring?! Alex and Cass braved the Bay crossing on the ferry to join us and they were also waterlogged upon arrival. However, Angelino’s was bustling with a full house and a high energy level – a great spot to be on a chilly day.

Teresa seated us and Giancarlo brought us the special Easter menus. We ordered some Prosecco to start and perused our choices.

Alex and I both ordered the Antipasto Pasqualino and the Capretto, and Cass went with the Pansotti. Of the special Easter dishes, the first one that arrived at the table was the Neapolitan Easter Bread (called “Castiello”).

Castiello is an interesting bread which incorporates cheese and salumi – see this recipe from “The Italian Baker” by Carol Field, as well as this interesting challenge on the Pinch My Salt blog where a group of people have made Castiello based on the recipe in “The Bread Baker's Apprentice.”

The Antipasto Pasqualino was a very good starting dish – simple and light with a good mix of flavors, including the pecorino cheese, sopressata and fresh fava beans which are currently in season.

The Torta Pasqualina that came with the antipasto is a dish made with Swiss chard, ricotta and hard boiled eggs. Pasquale stopped by to chat with us and told us that the dish (see a recipe here) is originally from Liguria. Traditionally it was made with layers of filling alternated with paper-thin sheets of pastry -- 33 layers in representing each year of Christ’s life. Also, twelve eggs were added to represent the apostles. Pasquale’s preparation pared back on those ingredients a bit, but was still very tasty.

The Capretto was excellent - a large serving with a lot of garlic and some bones which made it convenient to to a bit of gnawing.

Cass’ Pansotti was another Ligurian dish - a stuffed pasta. It mean’s “pot-bellied” and Angelino’s plump version certainly fit that description.

The Pastiera at the end of the meal was as good as the one I had last week - enhanced this time by a scoop of gelato.

For our wine with our meal, Giancarlo recommended a bottle of the 2003 Castello di Salle Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Sallis Castrum in Bolognano in Abruzzo, not far from Pescara and the Adriatic coast.

It was an easy drinking wine with light tannins and a perfect pairing for our lunch.

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