Eating Modena – Il Fantino

Restaurant: Il Fantino

Location: Modena, Italy

Date: June 7, 2011

Cuisine: Emilia Romagna

Rating: Big portions, too big!

ANY CHARACTER HERE

This evening we took to wandering around Modena. We stopped into a local restaurant at 7:30 or so but they weren’t open yet (in the summer Italians rarely sit down before 8:30 or 9). So we stopped at a nearby bar for…


Campari and soda, with a bit of orange.

They also had these funny fruit teas.

Here after the tea has been added.


Then along to the restaurant.

And it’s simple menu posted outside.

My mother models the bread.

A light start with a plate of mixed local meats.

Cheeses.

And an array off ready prepared cups of lard. Who needs butter? In all seriousness, this is spread on bread and enjoyed straight up.


Our wines of the evening. The lambrusco was of the flat variety. It tasted like a mediocre Beaujolais. The Sangiovese was better, but Emilia-Romagna isn’t Italy’s greatest wine region.


A now ubiquitous instalta misto.

And the local olive oil and balsamic.


We then moved to some pastas. They served huge bowls of each. I mean HUGE! This is a slightly worse variant of the ricotta and spinach stuffed ravioli we had at Cocchi.


Classic ragu.

An interesting gnocchi, with ragu and pumpkin, spiced likely with nutmeg I think. My favorite of the group.


And an extra pasta we didn’t have.

The rub here was that these portions were so big that after we stuffed ourselves silly, we hadn’t even cleared half of each dish. So we had to cancel the meat course, get the check, and go in search of gelato.

Il Fantino was tasty, and the quantities were huge, but the pasta while great by American standards, just wasn’t up to some of the other places in this fabulous food region.

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Foreign Flavors: Panjshir

Restaurant: Panjshir

Location: 924 West Broad St.Falls Church, VA 22046703-536-4566

Date: Dec 01, 2010

Cuisine: Afghan

 

Washington has a good size population of Afghans as a legacy of our involvement after the Russian invasion. We started coming to this restaurant when it opened in the mid 80s. This is a family run place and they are extremely hospitable, as well as serving up a very yummy glimpse at this infrequently found palette of flavors.


The menu.

We ordered this very reasonable Beaujolais.

There is a consistant palette of tomato, yogourt, garlic, and onion typified by this bowl of “Aush” soup. A bit of mint seasons up the exotic concoction. It might not be your typical American soup, but it is delicious.

They happily made up a vegetarian variant of these “Aushak” scallion filled dumplings. The pasta has a wonderful soft texture, not unlike a good Hungarian or Polish dumpling.

Afghan bread.

Which is best with this very spicy “green death” sauce. I love the stuff.

A nice salad comes with every entree. The dressing seems to be youghurt based, with some lemon and pepper. It’s really zingy.

What central Asian place wouldn’t have lamb kabob!

Or chicken.

This is “Seib Chalow,” or apples baked with tomato sauce, seeded Afghan prunes, walnuts, split peas, and spices. Really, really tasty. I don’t know how to describe it, but when eaten with the rice it forms a wonderful sweet and savory stew — with amazing texture too.

“Kadu Chalow,” sauteed pumpkin topped with seasoned yogurt and tomato sauce. Also a bit sweet (in a good way), but wonderful.

My personal favorite, the “Muntoo,” dumplings stuffed with ground beef and the omnipresent yogurt and meat sauce. The pasta is perfect and the whole thing very savory.

But, to properly appreciate, I apply a very liberal dose of the green death. Yum!

“Firnee,” This has the flavor palette of Indian Rice Pudding, but the texture of Italian Panna Cotta. It’s very light and pleasant. I love the cardamon and pistachio thing.

You have to love the bar.

And the even cooler antique muskets. These were probably still in use when the Russians invaded — and the Afghans won! Even Alexander the Great learned not to get into a land war in Asia. We should just leave them to their business and the cooking.