We celebrated Mother’s Day Sunday in Italy, along with many other countries around the world. I’ve long thought that greeting card companies created Mother’s Day, as they have so many other celebrations, but they are not to be congratulated or blamed for this one. It’s lucky that I’m a mom (really a stepmom, but I think my daughters are my kids) because I am usually treated to a special day, and this Mother’s Day was no exception.
On Sunday afternoon Michael and I headed over to Trastevere for lunch and a walk. I wanted to eat outside, and we were hoping to find Osteria La Gensola, which specializes in Sicilian fare. La Gensola is on a square at the east end of Trastevere, just across the river from Isola Tiburina, and we’d never explored that part of Trastevere.
As we looked down Lungotevere dei Tebaldi before crossing the street, a strong wind was blowing sycamore pollen down the street in what looked like a snowstorm! It was ridiculous! We (and other people out for a stroll) walked along the Lungotevere coughing, sneezing, blowing our noses, and wiping our eyes until we were finally able to cross the river on the Ponte Sisto. For some reason, the pollen wasn’t nearly so bad on the west side of the Tiber, although the after-effects of the east side were bad enough. Spring has sprung!
We walked to Piazza della Gensola and found our restaurant. The place was hopping, but we asked for a table, and even though we didn’t have a reservation, they had one free table right beside an open window. It was almost like being outside, and given the pollen conditions, eating inside was preferable!
La Gensola specializes in fish, as does much of Sicily’s cuisine, so we chose our meals and placed our order. I wanted tuna tartare for an appetizer, but they didn’t have it that day. I wanted what sounded sort of like a fish soup for my main course, but that dish was for two people, and Michael had already decided what he wanted. So I ended up with a wonderful appetizer of amberjack carpaccio (very thin slices of raw amberjack in olive oil with tomatoes and celery) and a main course of slightly seared tuna served with sautéed onions on a bed of chicory. Michael’s main course was grilled John Dory with fried potatoes. For our contorni (side dishes), we each had an order of carciofi alla giudia (artichokes in the Jewish style*). The sommelier recommended a Sicilian chardonnay, Cusumano Angimbé 2011. Everything was excellent, and all of the dishes were perfectly prepared.
But the highlight of the meal was Michael’s appetizer, which was the best fish dish I’ve ever eaten anywhere: four perfectly grilled scallops in squid ink sauce. I took one bite and wanted to tell the waiter to cancel the rest of my lunch and bring me two or three more servings of those scallops. The presentation was beautiful, and the amazing black sauce tasted just like the sea! It was so good that we polished the shells with pieces of delicious bread.
My girls called Sunday evening, and I talked to my mom and sister as well. A perfect day! And wow, what an appetizer!
* Go to Memorie di Angelina to see gorgeous photos and a description of how carciofi alla giudia are prepared. Ours looked different from the photos because our artichokes were bite sized.