La Mucca della Nonna - an Italian restaurant love story

The last vestiges of glamour fell away leaving only despair. A Sunday night delay at Manchester airport and my fantasy of dinner in Verona evaporated to be replaced by a BK triple whopper (they don’t normally do triples but I think they took pity on me and were just closing up).  So a bloated flight to Verona and straight to sleep. Still dark and cold when my alarm went off and I headed downstairs managing to sneak cold, bitter, stale (dirty machine?) and nasty double espresso for breakfast.

A long drive, a factory visit, some industrial samples. Where did it all go wrong. And then, in a second, a paradigm shift; my gracious hosts asked if I was hungry and received my stock reply; “I’m always hungry” (on non-fast days). And so a frantic search for a suitable restaurant along the road to Bergamo airport (where I’d Big Mac’d during my last glamorous jaunt). It wasn’t looking great until one of the gentlemen remembered a name; La Mucca della Nonna. Grandmother’s cow. Off the beaten track we headed and into quaint.

The road abruptly ended, we parked the car and wandered around finding nothing. Asking a local we were directed to a door in a wall with a sign reading “please ring” which we did. I’m so glad we did. The magic door opened as in Mr Benn and a magical world awaited within. A delicious aromatic grotto opened up and we were installed into slightly bizarre perspex chairs on perspex floors, creating a strange sensation of flying, accentuating the curved walls, ceilings and floor with cellars beneath. These peculiarities are sometimes employed to distract from the food, not here.

Steaks and grilled veg summarily ordered, we noticed Gnocco Fritto on the menu. Overcoming our regional translocation; an Emilia-Romagna dish in Lombardy for goodness sake (that’s like fish and chips made with haddock fried in lard in Lancashire! ) we ordered a couple to share between 3 . I must pause at this point to state that Gnocco Fritto con affetati, Steak with Chimichurri & Panettone would constitute my last meal (not least because I’d be cooking and its relatively simple except the Gnocco). Gnocco Fritto is increasingly cooked commercially in oil at 180-190 rather than the more traditional boiling lard at 220-230 and the difference is total. This version, a house speciality it transpired, was all about the lard. As soon as the bowl arrived resplendently aromatic porcine notes permeated the air, the piggy pillows sizzled slightly and clouds of intoxicating aromas enveloped us all, almost as truffles do when shaved onto hot pasta. When we came to, the Gnocco fritto were gone.

The amazingly simple (good cooking is when food tastes of what it is) beautiful steaks arrived; heavily seasoned, cooked perfectly and accompanied with 3 little dabs of special sauce(s), no more than a teaspoon each of chilli, mustard and chopped sott’aceti. a simple contorno of well griddled veg; peppers, endive and courgette. The plate was clean before i could even think about taking a rubbish photo. The owner appeared and explained the beef was “crexton”, all the way from the USA which brought to mind Heat and the story of Dario Cecchini. A fine espresso, and back to reality; a dash to Bergamo aiport, a long wait and a cramped flight all the while staring at the clouds and dreaming of Gnocco Fritto




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Italian, Recipes, Lifestyle