Saturday, 10 March 2012

Astarea Adventure

There is a konoba (family-run, fresh-sourced restaurant) in Brtonigla that is famed for its - well, its potential for adventure.  The proprietor and his wife work tirelessly to feed the constant influx of hungry visitors, she slaving over a huge copper-plated hearth, he wandering amongst his guests and chatting like an old and familiar friend to all.  He definitely has a personality, that one!

There are updated, multi-lingual menus now - but this wasn't always the case.  Rumour has it that Anton preferred to instruct his patrons in his own engaging style, ordering for them, persuading each guest to a dish he felt particularly suited their needs.

  We left ourselves at his mercy and encouraged him to make suggestions for us.  We started with cold scampi, a tender, succulent, melt-in-your-mouth delicacy drizzled in freshly pressed olive oil.  Mmmmm.

Next, we tried cuttlefish risotto.  Now, cuttlefish risotto is a highly prized dish - rarely on the menu.  Flavoured with part of the creature's pitch-black ink, it is so dark that I was afraid to drop it on the pristine white tablecloth for fear of staining it forever!

That risotto is perhaps the BEST thing I have EVER eaten in my life.  Dotted with tender, juicy cuttlefish pieces, enhanced by herbs and flavours which are Anton's own special secret, it was so deadly good that I am afraid you will all think I am exaggerating and taking artistic language liberties as I rave over it!  The texture, aroma, colour - all were a joy to behold and drink in.

I wonder how black my insides were after that dish?

The next best, barely-in-second-place dish was the peka Anton suggested for us.  We weren't sure on what to order, the fish or the calamari, so he suggested a peka dish incorporating both!  A huge squid and a sea bass were placed in a large peka dish and broiled in the coals of the great fireplace, along with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and some zucchini.  The result was so tasty - and to my utter amazement, none of the veggies had even the slightest flavour of fish!  If I hadn't been so full by this time, I would have licked the plate and thrown all potential embarrassment to the wind!
As our server expertly deboned the fish, the sensations of an aromatic paradise wafted towards our noses.  I will always remember that meal!

One interesting note - I had never seen a dog in a restaurant before, but at the table beside us that day, there was the most obedient dog ever!  I've seen many, MANY children who were more ill-behaved in public than that beautiful dog.  He sat quietly and patiently at his mistress' side, as if listening to their conversation wisely while they ate.

Astarea is well-known locally and otherwise for their excellent and tasty food.  If you ever have the chance to go, stop by!

What are some of your favourite food experiences?  I'd love to hear some of them!  Drop me a comment - I'd be happy to respond.

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