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Monday, 1 October 2012

Buffalo several ways

One thing I love about Italy is their commitment to their own food and immense pride in locality and “typicality”.

Sorrento is full of restaurants serving local specialities and using the great local produce, fish, San Marzano tomatoes and the iconic Amalfi Lemons. Not once do the Golden Arches sully the skyline and the Colonel is nowhere in sight. Why would you need to import fast food when the Pizza is the local speciality and faster than a flame grilled burger? That’s not to say there aren’t burgers available - but where else would they be topped with Smoked Mozzarella and the ubiquitous Iceberg be replaced with Rocket. Oh yes in Italy even the burger is special.

The freshest of fish is also available as this little sequence of photos shows, and the locality cannot be questioned.

A number of dishes are described as “Sorrentina” e.g. Gnocchi, Scaloppini, Insalata, all of which use the great tomatoes grown locally and Lemon is a major ingredient whether in the melting Lemon Cakes, Gelato or best of all Limoncello. There is a celebration of locality that has been lost in the UK and Ireland though some great producers, chefs and retailers are working hard to redress that loss.

One restaurant, however, is specialising in the food of the region, Campania, rather than just Sorrentine dishes, and it does it using one Primary ingredient Buffalo.

With a small store in the main Piazza Tasso, and a larger restaurant further along the “drains” Inn Buffalito is championing the amazing products of the Buffalo both the cheese, Mozzarella, and the meat.

Arriving early (by Sorrentine standards) at 7:30 we were told that there would be a half hour wait, no problem there was a well-stocked bar for Mrs K and a view into the open kitchen where we could see the chefs in action. Later in the evening the waiting time was around 2-3 hours and the pavement outside was full of people happily drinking and chatting as they whiled away the evening.

But to the food.

From a menu that offered all sorts of Buffalo related dishes – though with a range of fish or vegetarian ones as well, we chose Buffalo Carpaccio for Janet and a plate of Aged Cheeses for me with the intention of sharing both, and Focaccia with Rosemary. The portions were substantial, beautiful thin rounds of Buffalo for Janet on a bed of Rocket and with oils, vinegars, pepper and Parmesan to enhance the taste four types of cheese for me, and the Focaccia was a large round of freshly baked bread with a crisp crust and a pillowy crumb.

The cheeses varied from really fresh (that day’s) to a grainy, dark and strong cheese that seemed to have been aged at least two years judging by the similarity to a Grana Padano or Parmesan though I was surprised to discover it was only 8 months old. The Carpaccio was smooth, tasty and melt in the mouth – I think I prefer it to Beef. With some torn off Focaccia we had largely filled ourselves before even trying the mains.

Though there is a wide ranging selection for main course delight, and of course, Pizza and Pasta options as well, we chose to go with the daily Specials. Spezzatina for me and local Pasta with Buffalo Sausage Ragu for Janet.

My Spezzatina had cubed Buffalo stewed in a rich stock and enhanced by the addition of a few potatoes, warming comfort food.
Janet’s plate of Pasta combined a Ragu made from herby Buffalo Sausage and tomato with more herbs to bring out all the rich flavour of the dish.
Again portions were notsmall and, with the rest of the Focaccia I was too full to try a dessert. Notso Mrs K who ordered the Panacotta with seasonal berries, this of course came with two spoons so I had to try a little though the Espresso I ordered was really all that I wanted.

Despite service which allowed all the time needed to enjoy the meal whilst not leaving excessively long periods between courses, the queue outside was steadily growing and the 2-3 hour wait was not discouraging anyone. Bufalito is a restaurant well worth a visit and the growing crowds were strong evidence for this.

To find out more go to the link 

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