My Trip to Italy – Part 7 – Casadonna Reale – Castel di Sangro

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the third of three posts, featuring my favorite meals during My Trip in Italy.  In this particular post, I also talk about the hotel and breakfast the following morning.

********************

Just across the way from downtown Castel di Sangro…

…sits a former 16th-century monastery called Casadonna

…home of Niko Romito’s 3 Michelin star restaurant Reale, a boutique hotel of nine rooms, a culinary laboratory and a higher education cookery school.

I had come in from Pescara in the morning…

…and, fortunately for me, I only needed to wait a short while…

…before my room was ready.

It was clean and bright…

…with an awesome shower…

…and a fantastic view.

But I wasn’t planning on lounging in the hotel the entire day.

I had decided to walk to Castel di Sangro…

…and explore the town while I was there…

…being sure to stop at some churches…

…climb every narrow passage I came across…

…take part in a Giro d’Italia celebration…

…not to mention watch the bikes ride by…

…check out the Castel di Sangro soccer stadium…

…and possibly come across a surprising discovery…

…like this artistic masterpiece on Via Leone…

…which seemed to be a reflection of everything Castel di Sangro…

…and it was just absolutely amazing.

I even found a walking trail, helping me accumulate 8 miles of walking…

…so that I could return to Reale that evening with an appetite.

I ordered a Campari spritz and selected the Ideale tasting menu (I switched a dish from the menu for the sweetbreads I had heard so much about).

The meal began with a series of “Welcome” tastings…

…a salted pistachio “soffice” or fluffy bread…

…a marinated radish…

…a raviolo made of breadcrumbs and filled with ragu…

…and peeled roasted tomato with a honey glaze next to a potato under “ashes” (a nicely cooked potato with truffle powder).

And the welcome dishes continued with an intense vegetable reduction and fresh sage to give it a nice punch.

Then came a black olive tart for a nice salty bite.

Finally, there were three types of bread: a sort of breadstick, a small loaf with a crunchy outside and soft inside and chick pea crackers.

Next came the dishes from the Ideale tasting menu:

Alcoholic mixed wild greens (they’re flavored with Gin) and almonds.

Smoked yellowtail and tomato sauce (really incredible!).

Roasted squid, grapefruit and black olives.

Bread – crunchy outside, soft inside.

Roasted cardoncello mushroom with parsley and pepper sauce.

And here are the sweetbreads with cream, lemon and salt…

…I could have eaten a bowl of these bad boys!

Cold linguine pasta topped with a raw oyster.

Onion reduction with parmigiano cheese and toasted saffron.

Roasted savoy cabbage that was seared, aged for 40 days in a white wine/sugar/vinegar marinade, steam-cooked, sliced and roasted…really something with the cabbage and the cream that results from the process.

Fresh chicken tortelli.

Cold duck, broth pulled from the duck and spinach.

And then a series of dessert plates, including licorice granita, white vinegar, white chocolate and balsamic vinegar…

…fruit marinated in rum and cinnamon…

…chocolate caramel…

…a type of brittle…

…and some chocolate ice cream.

Dinner summary:  Overall, it was an incredible experience.  The food was all delicious and interesting and I never got bored with the flavors.  Also, the waitstaff was fantastic, helpful and even theatrical as they had a certain way they walked into the room with a platter carrying your next dish, only to rest the platter onto a small table near your table, remove your dish from that platter and place it carefully in front of you before coming around across from you to explain what you are about to eat.

Even though I sat alone, I didn’t necessarily eat alone.  I felt a part of the performance.

Needless to say, after all that food, I got a good night’s sleep…

…and I wasn’t sure how hungry I would be at breakfast.

But when I sat down…

…I ordered a cappuccino…

…and started with a nice ricotta cream dish with (I believe) raspberry and chocolate.

I was presented with a tray consisting of a slice of twice backed bread (like a cookie bread), a pizzelle, and three types of rolls: one topped with sugar and cream, one with chocolate bits throughout…

…and one covered in sugar and filled with pieces of apple.

I also ordered a cheese omelet for something savory.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t eat the freshly baked loaf that was also placed on the table.

But, upon checkout, the hotel did give me a loaf of the same bread to take with me as a gift.

And I did take it, along with some wonderful memories of my time in Castel di Sangro and at Casadonna.