Friday, 4 February 2011

La Locanda del Castello

Marcello dall'Aglio chef-patron running a cookery course
‘So this is the Locanda’, said the taxi driver, as we pulled up in the courtyard of the medieval Palazzo de Rossi, near Sasso Marconi, just outside Bologna. ‘I’ve heard a lot about this place’, he said looking around in awe. It’s true the setting is amazing but it’s matched by the food. I’ve been eating here for years and never had a bad meal.

On the current menu my favourites include Spaghetti alla chitarra con gamberi e carciofi al profumo di zafferano – hand made spaghetti with prawns and artichokes in a saffron flavoured sauce - sensational tagliata di manzo – grilled beef – and too many gorgeous desserts including a chocolate pudding that you break open to reveal a molten zabaglione filling or amaretto mousse with a bitter chocolate sauce. And then there is the wine list, with lots of good local wines at reasonable prices as well as a range that takes in the best from every Italian region. Upstairs there are lovely rooms where you can sleep it off and wake up to a delicious breakfast spread including home made marmalade, a rarity in Italy.

Let me declare an interest. Marcello and Giulietta, who run La Locanda, are good friends. On the other hand, don’t just take it from me or the taxi-driver. La Locanda was chosen by the then Italian prime minister, Romani Prodi, to entertain, Tony Blair, the newly elected British prime minister and his family when they holidayed in Italy in 1997.

The cost? Well, a Valentine’s dinner is 45 euro or dinner, bed and breakfast for a couple is 180 euro. They also run evening cookery courses.

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