Actually, that should probably read ‘Having Lunch At The Same Place As George Clooney, Only A Few Days Later’, but why let an unimportant fact ruin a killer headline ?
Lunch was at La Cantina di Biffi in Sulmona. Not because George had lunched there a few days before, but because it looked nice; and it was lunchtime; and the only other choice seemed to be a Chinese restaurant.
Yes, there are Chinese restaurants in Abruzzo. And though I’m sure this was a crackingly good establishment, based on our experiences so far, Chinese restaurants in Abruzzo are unremittingly awful.
Aside from being a pretty town in the mould of many other Abruzzese pretty towns, Sulmona has two key selling points: Candy and garlic.
Sulmona’s justly-famous red garlic is a real garlic-lovers’ garlic. Pungent and powerful. At La Cantina di Biffi they chop it – not too finely – fry it, and stir it into polenta of a sublime creaminess.
Then they spoil it by rationing you to a meagre little portion – and anything less than a kilo of this delicious unctuousness counts as ‘meagre’ – as part of a really rather good antipasti platter.
Quite pricey at €13 each and contributing to a bill of €70-odd. But you can’t expect my good friend and distant dining partner George Clooney to eat anywhere cheap for heaven’s sake.
He’d probably just been given the bill.
That’s enough precious blog space devoted to Gloomy George. Think instead of sweeties of an almost unnatural gloss and colour artfully fashioned into cute little flower shapes.
When it comes to confectionery, what’s more important: eye appeal or taste ? Whether you’re an aesthete or a glutton, you’ll be thrilled that Sulmona’s sweeties score highly on both counts.
And not as avariciously-priced as a Cantina Biffi starter either. Had George lunched on chocolates, sugared almonds and nougat instead of fancy antipasti, he’d have been all smiles come the post-prandial photo-call.
We again contributed significantly to the profits of Sulmona’s hospitality industry by discovering that sloppy service and inflated prices don’t make up for posh surrounds at the Gran Caffe dell’Aunnunziata right opposite the Chiesa della Annunziata, watching its medieval facade getting a quick scrub-up in preparation for a visit from Pope Benedict two days later. A visit to anywhere alongside George Clooney and the Pope. Not many people can say that.
Anyway, here’s the plan: Wander round undeniably delightful Sulmona and take in the sights; plenty of places to have a drink/coffee other than the Gran Caffe; buy candies and garlic. Then get in the car, drive 15 minutes or so to the lovely little village of Pacentro; and have lunch.
Osteria Maggiore and Taverna de li Caldora, though as yet untried by us, have been sampled by Vf2 Guests and given top marks. And I don’t think Gloomy George has discovered them yet.