Now – what bothers me most is not that I had to endure some public nudity, but that, given the speedo revelation, I could only assume that she thought it was my choice to go skins. I must have appeared to her to be some combination of extremely arrogant and desperately forward to, in her mind, knowingly rebuff clothes and present myself to her to be bathed al fresco. Quite mortifying for me. The subject of countless dinnertime stories for Liz.
Anyhow, after the red faded from my cheeks we made our way to the hotel restaurant, Guido da Costigliole or Da Guido. The interior is truly stunning, located in the basement of the hotel, a converted 17th century monastery. The food is traditional Piemontese which, for me, does not translate well to a fine dining atmosphere. The restaurant has a Michelin star and it seems like it would be better off without it – or at least without the baggage that seems to come along with trying to keep it. Traditional Italian dishes simply taste better without the pretense and pomp that comes along with a high-end experience. Put simply, spaghetti al pomodoro will always be better with fresh basil as opposed to a preserved basil chip. That’s not to say that the food here wasn’t terrific, it was. But if you are in Piemonte and you have to choose between spending your money in a trattoria or a place like this, I can’t see an argument for the latter. Now, if the restaurant is serving some sort of nouveau cuisine that is unlike traditional dishes, then that’s a different story. But in this case, the dishes weren’t original enough to stop me from comparing them to the same flavors, but simpler presentation, that I could have gotten in any number of other local places.
poached baccala with fresh peas
The winner here were the agnolotti since they defied the move towards traditional upscale presentations and came in a very light no frills butter-based sauce. But, again, while absolutely delicious I could have found fresh agnolotti elsewhere. The cheese shown in the last picture was most certainly the product of Satan’s cows. Neither Liz nor I could stand more than the tiniest lick. It tasted like congieled stomach acid. I am completely blanking on the name but, for now, I find that staying away from black cheeses is a safe bet. I still haven’t developed a taste for them.
Summing up San Maurizio: the structure and location of the hotel and restaurant is incredible and we may never have felt so relaxed as when we were lounging around the grounds, but the spa is a rip off and the restaurant, while totally delicious, does not deliver anything beyond what you can get for 1/3 the price in a good trattoria (except for a more extensive wine list and the cool venue).