Sunday, 11/09/2022 09:23

La Casa keeps Italian tradition alive

BITESIZE BRILLIANCE: Bruschetta come in bitable sizes that tickle the taste bud for the bigger dishes to come. VNS Photos Mỹ Hà

by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà

It's great to be back at La Casa, the Italian restaurant, one of 14 eateries located within the premises of the Alma Resort in Cam Ranh, Khánh Hòa Province. 

Over two years of fighting the COVID pandemic, the Alma beach resort, like the rest of the tourism sector, fought hard to keep their staff from leaving, trying to maintain a work ethic and staying intact to welcome back the first visitors when the pandemic was under control.

In its early days, La Casa had an Italian chef who provided the recipes and oversaw the making of all things Italian. The restaurant has a pizza oven, and all the pizzas served there come freshly baked from the wood-fired furnace. 

On our last visit, we had a fun experience trying to open a pizza dough to make a perfect-rimmed five-cheese fresh pizza. This time, though the chef wasn't available, we had a no less fun evening full of great food and surprises. 

We had bruschetta (VNĐ177,000) for the starter with chopped tomatoes and basil on top of golden roasted bread. It was an excellent beginning for the dishes to come. Some of us had a soup of the day (VNĐ155,000), a smooth broth to open up your palate, and another had a broccoli soup (VNĐ155,000), which was both soft and savoury. 

CHARCUTERIE: A bountiful platter for two was actually enough for our table of seven diners. 

While the adults tasted the antipasti platter with assorted hams, salami and cheese (VNĐ680,000 for two), the kids jumped right into the main course.

They could not wait any longer and only wanted their fettuccine bolognese (VNĐ565,000) served hot and yummy. The fettuccine noodles are similar flat noodles to our phở noodles in the past.

Today, all phở noodles are made and cut with machines, so the width of the noodles has gotten narrower. Those who prefer the old ways must get fresh noodles from the market and cut them into thin strips at home with a long knife. 

Fettucine is a bit thicker, like the flat noodles from the northern provinces of Hải Phòng or Hải Dương to cook crab noodle soup. Tagliatelle is slightly wider and thinner, like the old hand-cut phở noodles. Lastly, fettuccine, like the flat brown noodles, is easier to find in dried form at the grocery store, while tagliatelle, like fresh phở noodles, is usually sold fresh.

Before this trip, I was surprised to learn that if you go to Italy, you would be disappointed at not being able to find spaghetti bolognese in a restaurant. As noodle nations know, certain types of noodles go well with local produce. Fresh phở noodle is best in Nam Định Province and Hà Nội, while dried flat rice noodles make the best crab or seafood noodle soup in the port city of Hải Phòng or Hải Dương. 

The Bologna Cooking School says, "Spaghetti bolognese doesn't exist in Italy!" Such a statement can turn the world of any spaghetti fan upside down. It's a most misunderstood dish outside of Italy and, surprisingly, the most popular. A home cooking school in Bologna, Italy, offers its signature "tagliatelle alla bolognese", or flat noodles in a bolognese-style stew.

If you like the sauce cooked the way it is done in Bologna, it's called a ragu, a meat-based sauce, simmered for at least an hour to develop sophisticated flavour and proper thickness. The ragu must be cooked in a heavy pan or similar deep-heated pot to keep the heat stable and gives a velvety texture to the sauce.

In Bologna, ragu is the traditional sauce for lasagna and tagliatelle. 

Bolognese ragu is a classic sauce for lasagne and tagliatelle. The ragu must be cooked with natural beef or veal and tomatoes, with white wine, and simmered for up to four hours so that the meat becomes tender and starts to fall into the tomato liquid. 

With such a thick sauce, flat pasta, like tagliatelle or in our case fettucine, holds the sauce best.

If you are a fan of spaghetti, then you can have spaghetti with tomato sauce, tuna sauce or carbonara sauce (smoked bacon, eggs and Parmesan cheese). 

ITALIAN CLASSIC: Fettucine bolognese, an adapted version of the original ragù alla bolognese (served with fresh tagliatelle). 

When a foreigner wants to break into the world of Italian cuisine, they may want to try classic simple Italian dishes such as a margherita pizza, lasagna or spaghetti bolognese.

But Virginio Merola, the former mayor of Bologna, home of the so-called dish, would stand up in protest. He tweeted in a Twitter post that "Spaghetti bolognese does not exist and is, in fact, fake news."

Now Merola is now launching an awareness campaign to teach people around the world the truth.

"Dear residents, I am collecting photos of spaghetti bolognese from around the world, and about the fake news," Merola wrote on Twitter, alongside a picture. "This one is from London, and please send me yours. Thank you!"

So, you are more than welcome to send in a photo of what you have become familiar with, fond of or even love, or what you believe is the perfect bolognese.

We got lucky. We had it right, at the wonderful La Casa, in Alma, Cam Ranh. VNS 


La Casa, Italian Restaurant at Alma Beach Resort

Nguyễn Tất Thành Road, Cam Hải Đông, Cam Lâm, Khánh Hòa Province

Tel:  0258-3991-666

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