Adventure!, Anisette, Italy

A Meal to End All Meals! Part One

Back in the day, the 3 martini lunch used to be a thing. Beneficiaries enjoyed long, leisurely “working” lunches…well let me tell you about the 2 bottle lunch.

In last night’s blog, I marveled that the people around me were eating 3 and 4 courses. Today I learn how.

The star of this 2 bottle meal is Rosaria Morganti, chef, owner of Ristorante Due Cigni and master sommelier. She proudly shows me the napkins that are hand woven by her nearly 90 year old mother – who still works in the restaurant! Strong women abound during this meal.

Due Cigne offers a farm-&-fish to table experience that is both traditional and contemporary. The decor is refined and minimalist – it occurs to me that there is nothing to compete with the experience of the food. The only thing that isn’t minimalist is its award winning wine cellar!

I arrive to meet and interview Orietta Varnelli at noon and walk into an empty restaurant. Well, I think, maybe they open at 12:30. Anna Tesoni is there setting up cocktails and we chat. I’m thinking only that this small cocktail set-up is a lovely welcome offered by the restaurant. Orietta arrives for our meeting – still no one is arriving for lunch. We sample cocktails and Rosaria escorts us into the dining room.

I finally understand that she has opened her beautiful restaurant only for us! She has prepared a menu that features Varnelli in some way in every course.

Courses, how do I love thee, let me count the ways!

  1. I have to count the bread because it is presented as a work of art conjuring the famous Sibillini Mountains of the Marche (my photo in no way does it justice).  I’ve never seen anything like it. It feels like an insult to not have one of each, but I resist. I sample a breadstick – I love the olive oil – and a bite of the mountain and am unable to tell you what it is beyond delicious.
  2. Having poured the water before presenting the breads, Rosaria brings the first bottle of wine. Chosen from her expansive cave. As she has won a Wine Spectator award, I’m confident it is the perfect pairing for the meal. Turns out it’s simply the perfect pairing for the appetizers – yes, plural! What it was, I can’t tell you because I forgot to take notes or photos.
  3. Next what I expect is going to be the appetizer. A trio of a light cheese ball, a light salted macaron filled with a puree of bean and garnished with Pedano onion and a savory bite about which I took no notes!
  4. On to the main course, I’m thinking. But, no! Another appetizer. Made to look like a cute little fish, it’s shrimp marinated in Varnelli with herb garnishes from the land and seaweed garnishes from the beautiful Adriatic coastal area of the Conero.
  5. Are we there yet? Will this be the main course? The answer is a resounding, “No!” Another appetizer. This time another trio of small bites including beef from the Marche region cradled in zucchini, pecorino and sundried Sicilian tomato wrapped in mozarella and onion and garlic shrimp marinated in Varnelli and garnished with an edible  herbal flower. All  resting in a tomato gazpacho. Will the main course be next?

End of Part One!