Last week, we received a visit from our Uncle S. and Aunt Deborah who were traveling through Europe on business. They had planned a stop over visit us before traveling by train to their next destination. We had also coordinated with Jen’s mom, who was departing on the same day they arrived, which saved us a trip to the airport and allowed us to spend the day in Milano (never a bad thing). Whoever said planning is overrated never had traffic and a two year old to contend with.
Julia with her great-uncle S.
Julia was sad to see her Nonna leave, but excited to have new visitors to play with. She instantly recognized S. and Deb as they arrived through customs. Since it was early evening when they landed, we took them back to our condo and had a “light” dinner of bread, salami, salami piccante (spicy salami) prosciutto, cheese, a cannelloni bean salad, acciughe in salsa verde (anchovies in green sauce), insalata finocchio (fennel salad) and insalata caprese with some wonderful buffalo mozzarella. Franco and Claudia came downstairs to join the party and brought some additional goodies of their own. Of course, we had more than a bottle or two of some good vino along with grappa and limoncello to wash it all down.
Julia found a left-handed drinking buddy
We had a long list of activities we wanted to accomplish while they were here, but the three days we had wasn’t enough time to do it all. The only thing to do… plan our lunches and work backwards from there! Since most restaurants are closed one day a week (either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday depending on the restaurant) and the weather predicted to change dramatically over those three days – I spent a good 30 minutes figuring out the rubik’s-cube that was their trip.
We spent the first day in Lecco (the other “leg” of the lake), the second day eating sopra (above) with Franco and Claudia (who live above us) and the final day in Tremezzo (another lake town). Since both S. and Deb had read the blog post HERE about a wonderful restaurant we discovered who’s cuisine is matched only by the adventure you must undertake to arrive – that was pre-penciled in.
Julia was excited to return to Osteria Montalbano
A quick summary of the restaurant, Osteria Belvedere Montalbano in Lecco (or click the link above); Lake Como has two “legs” with Como at the “foot” of the west leg and Lecco at the foot of the east leg. Lecco has stunning mountains that surround the lake. In order to find the restaurant, you must drive through the town, into a residential area on one of the mountains, enter a private road and continue to wind your way up the mountain. As you approach the end of the road, you’ll find a dirt path that is covered with stones and trees. Turn on your all wheel drive and wind your way up the path for 20 minutes before finding this jewel.
Everyone in front of one of our favorite restaurants
On our first trip, we were lucky enough to make it up this tiny/dangerous road unscathed. This time everything appeared to be going well, when suddenly we came across an obstacle. The road was closed half-way up because a local farmer was chopping trees and one laid clear across the “road”, blocking our path. There is NO turning around or backing down – our only option was to push forward. I hopped out of the car and asked him when he would be done. He said that it would be about 20-30 minutes. I volunteered to help and S and I became his gofers while he continued to skillfully wield his chainsaw. He jokingly said, avete fame (you must be hungry)! We were on our way in less than 10 minutes!
Nothing is going to keep us from getting there!
The food was as spectacular as the first visit and the quantity could have fed a small army, let alone four travelers. Since the menu is seasonal, many of the dishes were repeats for Jen and myself – but we had a couple new dishes, pictured below.
Filet with radicchio and a gorgonzola cream sauce
Roasted rabbit with a white wine reduction
Pan fried polenta
Half pear / half blubbery torte with custard
As we were leaving, we noticed a bocce-ball court that looked like it will be a lot of fun when the weather warms. S. made an astute and funny observation that there wasn’t a flat patch of earth anywhere to be seen for miles, yet they had a perfectly manicured surface to play bocce-ball on the top of a mountain!
Anyone up for a game?
This is my bench… don’t even think about it!
Deb and Julia sharing a laugh
We’re looking forward to visiting Osteria Belvedere Montalbano again when our next adventurous visitors come to see us!