Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Altavilla, Bianzone, Italy

If you are visiting Poschiavo or the Valtellina Valley of Italy, the Altavilla restaurant is a wonderful place serving lunch and dinner in the small town of Bianzone. If you are taking the Raetische Bahn (RhB) Bernina Express, your trip ends in Tirano (Italy). From there Bianzone is about a 12 Euro taxi ride.

The Altavilla is run by Senora Anna, a wonderful women in all senses of the word. She is welcoming and extremely knowledgeable about the region's food and wine. She is a leader in the Slow Food movement and her cooking is divine.

The restaurant is located up in the hills with windows overlooking the valley. It's idyllic, especially if you decide to stay overnight in one of the rooms. The food is superb. Senora Anna offers a couple of menus that enable you to try some of the regional specialties (one menu offers: schat, pizzoccheri, dried meats and dessert). But, it might be better to order a few appetizers from the menu (schat, risotto, the buckwheat crepes) and then a main course of meat or fish (all of which are excellent).

The schat needs to be described. It's local cheese coated in a buckwheat dough (similar to a crepe mixture) that's very quickly deep fried and served on a bed of thinly sliced bitter salad (you dress the salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar yourself from the many varieties Senora Anna places on your table, before the hot schat arrive).

The service can be slow and somewhat chaotic, but the food is well worth waiting for, especially with a glass of one of the fine local wines.

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