Just recently I was in a bookstore and came across a book titled "A Rather Lovely Inheritance" by author C. A. Belmond. After reading this charming, mystery romance I was anticipating there was a sequel and much to my delight I found "A Rather Curious Engagement". As I was reading about the adventures of Penny & Jeremy traveling to Italy I realized I knew the restaurant and hotel being described in the book. After searching my closet for my travel diaries and reading through them, I discovered the restaurant and hotel are the same ones I mentioned above. If you want to read some entertaining books about travel, romance, mystery and charming characters these books will keep you intrigued. Currently, I'm reading book #3 called "A Rather Charming Invitation."
I have been corresponding with the author and her publicist is sending me an autographed copy of the book "A Rather Curious Engagement" so I am having a contest for a free giveaway. In the book, the main characters, Penny & Jeremy dine at Locanda dell"Isola Comacina where they are served the "fior de vaniglia," what does it mean? At the Grand Hotel on Lake Como they are famous for a cake made by pastry chef Osvaldo Presazzi. What is the cake called? What are the main two ingredients that the cake is made of ? How did the cake get it's name? Be the first one to e-mail me the answers to the four questions at (deleted) and I will send you the book.
Locanda dell"Isola Comacina restaurant only serves the following menu which they have been serving with success since 1947. Please note, spelling is correct for this menu.
First course - Antipasto all"isolana
Consists of a slice of tomato with a slice of lemon on top, salt, extra virgin olive oil and origano.
Following this they serve 8 different fresh vegetables; celery, carrots, baked onions, sweet peppers, courgettes (zucchini), beans, cauliflower and beetroots (the vegetables can change according to the season.)
On a separate plate they serve Prosciutto Tipo Praga (ham cooked in a steamer and lightly smoked in a wood-oven) and Bresaola della Valtellina (IGP air-dried beef that is aged in their cellar.)
Second course - Trota alla contrabbandiera
Fresh salmon trout grilled on a wood grill. The trout is served boned and dressed with salt, lemon, extra virgin olive oil and pepper. (The trout will be boned at the table or in the kitchen).
Third course - Rottami de polla in padella
A high quality free-range chicken opened, "crushed", fried in an iron pot with oil and then put in the wood oven. It's served with salad.
Fourth course - Grana all'escavadora
Famous Parmigiano Reggiano (DOP) cheese. A piece of cheese is cut out of the middle of the form and given into the hand of the client to provide a great emotional impact.
Fifth course - Arance alla castellana - This is my favorite and I have made a similar version at home. You must try this most simple fantastic beautiful dessert.
Sliced oranges or peach and served with a squisite ice cream called "fior de vaniglia". This all is covered with the traditional "crema all'isolana" (Fruits will change according to the season, and will be sliced at the client's table or in the kitchen). My version, french vanilla ice cream, topped with a luscious dollop of whipped heavy whipping cream that I have added powdered sugar, mascarpone cheese with orange zest accompanied with fresh sliced oranges and a drizzle of Grand Marnier. A grown up version of orange cream.
Finishing touch - Caffe all'uso delle canaglie in armi
It is a tradition that at the sound of the bell the host enters into the room and burns brandy in the"pot" and tells the history of the Island. Then sugar and coffee are added to the brandy and then it is served. A final which you should not miss.
The white D.O.C. wine which is served with the meal is included in the price of the menu. D.O.C. stands for Denominazione di origine controllata or controlled origin.
When Jerry and I finally travel to Italy, I'll be sure and let you know how we like the restaurant and Grand Hotel!
"My soul waits in silence for God only."
Note: The above poem I found hand written in a used travel book I purchased about Italy. Searching the internet I could not find an author.
If you have ever been to either of these places, let me know I would love to hear about it.
To reach C.A. Belmond the author of the wonderful books, you can contact her at; http://www.cabelmond.com/ She would love to hear from you.
Our winner for the giveaway contest was Joan H. from North Richland Hills, TX