Le Marche is one of the relatively smaller Italian provinces, but one rich in diversity, with towering mountains and miles of coastline, much of it dotted with fishing villages and summer beach resorts. For today we are sticking to the coast, our appointment with destiny in the form of seafood.
One could joke that we have been on a seafood diet this entire trip ("you see food, you eat it"), and we have had quite a few excellent seafood meals over the past two weeks. But it is qualitatively different to eat fresh seafood served in a restaurant in, say, Venice, from the experience of chowing down on fresh seafood in a restaurant, which from your table you can see boats offloading crates of still twitching shrimp, crawfish, lobster, calamari and all manner of fish. Where you can hear the crashing of the waves on the shore through the window. Where your fellow diners look, dress (and smell) like Bluto from the Popeye cartoon.
That is where we have landed today.
Our lunch stop is not in Le Marche but just south of Ravenna in Emilia Romagna, in a small fishing village called Cesenatico, a few kilometers from the famous salt producing town of Cervia. We had visited Cervia several years ago, taking in the town's salt museum and enjoying a memorable seafood lunch with a not-too-memorable setting. In contrast, Cesenatico is the perfect Hollywood set for the perfect seafood meal, and our restaurant, the Osteria del Gran Fritto, is one of a number of lovely restaurants set along either side of a canal, lined with colorful fishing boats, leading out to the sea.
The Osteria, a well known restaurant managed by Stefano Bartolini, was recommended to us by our friend and supplier of Italian gourmet food products, Andrea Tosolini, who came across the restaurant during his visits to his native Italy searching for quality products to import to the U.S. This is not the first restaurant recommendation we have received from Andrea, and he has yet to disappoint.
It is a cold day, I would argue (and have argued with Suzy) miserably so, especially along the canal, with the wind howling and slicing through our coats, a stinging rain like tiny needles to the face. But it was all warmth and good feeling as we entered the colorful, whimsical Osteria.
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Our dinner plan for the night was simple. After lunch we had driven a couple hours south, into Le Marche, and checked into the Grand Hotel Excelsior, a beach resort in the resort town of Senigallia, along Le Marche's coast. Travelling as we often do off season, we are used to checking into abandoned resorts, mostly shuttered and empty of guests, but the Excelsior is particularly creepy at this time of year, its enormous front lobby completely empty, the hallways slightly run down and awaiting a little refurbishment before the beach season begins in a few months. The whole scene slightly echoes the resort Jack Nicholson housesat for in the Shining.
|Pizzeria Ancora - Senigallia|
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But in this new loosey-goosey phase of our trip (see yesterday's report) not all is lost when things do not go according to plan. This is especially if there is no plan. Next door to Uliassi was an inviting restaurant called l'Ancora (the Anchor) with something that Uliassi did not have - a working kitchen, a wait staff and patrons. Within seconds we counted ourselves among the latter group.
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|Smoked salmon agrumi|
Bill and Suzy