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Entries in wine bar (2)

Wednesday
May232012

The Iaciofano's Go To Naboo, I mean Lenno...

Although we were sad to leave Verona, we were anticipating with much enthusiasm the adventures that awaited us in Lake Como.
Our fearsome foursome took up temporary residence in Tremezzo, one of the towns circling the lake. Travel from town to town happens by boat on Lake Como, so the Iaciofano's heaved-to and set sail for Lenno one rainy day.
Our main purpose in visiting Lenno was to see the Villa Balbianello, an impressive estate that you may recall from such films as Star Wars (I forget which – one of the new films with that Jar Jar creature), and Casino Royale.
In order to get to the villa, we had to trek through a couple miles of woodsy terrain. I very much enjoyed this, even in the rain, but The Box was not a fan. 
"Are we there yet?" He'd ask... and, "I'm turning around and calling a cab."
Needless to say I was not amused. I was, however, floored by the grandeur of Villa Balbianello once we finally made it onto the main grounds.
Impeccably manicured and coiffed, ivy coiled around the columns and the trees were manicured within an inch of their lives. We entertained ourselves for quite some time, until I got very cold.
Did I mention it was raining? So, we hailed a water taxi (one conveniently pulled up to the back door of the villa's grounds) and made haste back to the main center of Lenno, where in spite of the cold, we all had gelato at La Fabbrica del Gelato.
This wasn't the best gelato John had sampled – he much preferred the gelateria in Bologna. BUT it was very pretty, and they got extra marks for their display of tiny colorful gelato scoops.
Now I was REALLY cold. And the state of my hair in the rain...let's just say Marmo and I were picking up RAI Uno and RAI Due station feeds.
Also, we were hungry. Yes, we just had gelato, but gelato does not a meal make. What does is meat and cheese. And wine. So we headed back to Tremezzo and located a local wine bar, Cantina Follié.
Perched atop some bar stools, and wearing The Box's jacket for warmth, I commandeered the wine list. I selected the wine pictured below based on the label design. I do that. I'm a sucker for pretty design. Also, I was cold, hungry and out of patience.
Luckily, the wine proved to be delicious. Marmo and I started to calculate U.S. shipping as we devoured a plate of local meats and cheeses, included a personal favorite formaggio of mine: TALEGGIO.
Stuffed full of meat, cheese, wine and gelato, we headed back to our hotel for.... a NAP.
Hey, we needed to conserve energy for dinner. 

 

Tuesday
May012012

Not Your Average Grilled Cheese at 'Ino ('Ino at 26 Bedford Street)

Peeps who frequently peep the blog know I'm a sucker for sandwiches, particularly of the Italian Sumbarine variety.  But any well made sandwich - particularly those which feature moist, fresh bread, giving way to gloriously prepared insides - can win me over.

Other weaknesses include, but are not limited to, pizza, truffles, the Jets, and youtubing moonwalk instructionals.  Oh, and grilled cheese.  Everyone loves a good grilled cheese; slices of snapping buttered bread separated by a layer of melted goondess.  So simple, yet so wonderful.  On a recent beautiful Saturday afternoon, I strolled into the West Village to give 'Ino a try, after I had read somewhere that their panini were of some fine craftsmanship.

Inside, it's a small, but interesting spot high on character.  It has a full bar, exposed brick, ceiling fans, and some Birra Moretti on tap. An older gent peacefully reads the newspaper in the corner as the staff lets him be.  It's a lot like a wine or coffee bar in Italy in a way, with an American, country deli twist.  And, they decorate their shelves with giant jars of Nutella (another weakness) which is absolutely cool in my book.

The hipster staff is friendly and knowledgeable, seemingly unoffended by the bright pink polo shirt and side part I'm rocking that day. Feeling summer on this Spring day, I order up an iced tea and, under the advise of the bartender - the Cacciatorini Panini: a grilled goat cheese sandwich with garlic cured salami and a black olive pesto.

The thing is really, really good.  The picture above may not capture it, but the bread is truly wonderful: it has a snapping and slightly golden crust, yet it's substantial, and perfectly moist underneath.  It's a bit airy, so the insides of the Cacciatorini - a perfectly portioned spread of goat cheese, salami, and pesto - seep into the inner portions of the bread quite effectively, keeping things from tasting too dry.  There is an excellent bitter sweet taste to it all.  A fine sandwich, indeed.

A sneak off to the bathroom for a look:

Nothing offensive here - a long, narrow private stall with painted brick, functioning appliances, and a full arsenal of soap and paper towels.  Perhaps slightly claustrophobia inducing but, other than that, just fine.

Overall - I left 'ino feeling full, satisfied and truly impressed.  Browse their panini menu - it's pretty dang impressive; from both a quantity and quality standpoint.  I'm going to make it a point to head back for more of these bad boys.  Or maybe I'll just try some of that truffled french toast.  Sounds SICK.

Overall experience: The Offbeat Success