Thursday, 13 March 2008

Tuscan Tango

Italian cuisine is one of the joys of life, Gentle Reader, and my month in the Tuscan countryside en famille with The Don and his family remains one of our (shared) treasured memories. Nightly sojourns into nearby venues, the world's best pizza (I swear), and the local grape made our time in Chianti a delicious if somewhat blurry pleasure.

So I was curious to try Goutte d'or Achiano in Nishi-Azabu [Map], which boasts of a deep connection to the food traditions of Florence and surrounds. So imagine my surprise to discover that Chef Akira Watanabe had spent more than two years training in a Medici country house right by Florence, and my delight as it became obvious that he had spent his time there well. Once he uncovered my secret identity as your Humble Correspondent, he spent nearly thirty minutes with me replete with photo albums and shared acquaintances.

There with my Stern friend, and the effervescent Lance, we tried a variety of dishes that spoke most eloquently of Tuscany. Some worthy of special mention include the Grilled 30cm sausage as a starter (no need to measure, it's all there), the pork sourced from Ibaragi (I had the Milanese Cutlet which was heavenly), the Bifstek Firenze, and Venetian Risotto. A brief aside for the Bifstek - not a historical Florence dish, but actually created for English lordlings on the Grand Tour in about the start of the 18th century!

The wine list seems a little more confused, but well-chosen. I would have imagined a Tuscan and Super-Tuscan selection might be in order, but expect to see French and Italian wines jostling for attention and all rounding out a very pleasant experience. One word of caution, however, must be reserved for the ventilation system which seems a little challenged by the kitchen team.

For mine, though, Goutte d'or Achiano is a great little find and a venue that deserves your attention - soon! Look for the fat boy wrapped in 30 cm of sausage, and come to my rescue!

Rating: Food: 7/10; Wine: 7/10; Ambiance: 7/10; Service: 6/10; Price ($$): 7/10. Total: 34/50
Goutte d'or Achiano [Map]: Nishi-Azabu 4-10-7 3rd Floor. Tel: 03-5467-2648

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