June 7, 2008

Fountain of Delight

Mario%20Fuenzalida%20makes%20riosotto.JPG Chestnut%20risotto.JPG
Do you cook at home? Do you make risotto? It's a culinary challenge, involving lots of chopping, stirring, pre-measured ingredients, pots & pans for the base, the stock, the flavorings. Guys say that making risotto with their girlfriends is the ultimate aphrodisiac: there's lots of stuff to do and taste together, with a lush, aromatic payoff.

Risotto in a restaurant, on the other hand, is all-too-often hit and miss. At best, it's sublime, but at worst, it's an excuse to dump leftovers into boiled rice. At La Fontana Siciliana, there's no question: it's an unqualified hit.

In the cozy, low-ceilinged room overlooking a courtyard fountain, under banners of the Sicilian flag, dinners are served at antique library tables set for two. Opera music plays discreetly. The owner's daughter takes your order. Start with a bruschetta, perhaps, or a caprese salad (the mozzarella served on orange slices rather than flavorless tomatoes).

The special's a risotto with chestnuts and sausage, not to be missed. In the kitchen, owner-chef Mario Fuenzalida prepares the risotto to order: arborio rice, chestnuts, sausage and truffle oil, topped with shavings of parmigiano-reggiano and garnished with an ornamental swoosh of balsamic. The flavors and textures come together effortlessly, as they should: Mario's been cooking for decades and has nurtured a whole school of Italian restaurateurs (La Vita è Bella, Mondello and Sorrentino, to name three).

No one else in town even thinks of putting pasta con le sarde on the menu. It's a traditional Sicilian dish: spaghetti with a sauce based on sardines, fennel, pine nuts and raisins, too time-consuming and complicated for most kitchens. Even Mario doesn't have it every day, so call ahead.

La Fontana Siciliana, 120 Blanchard Ave., 206-441-1045 La Fontana Siciliana on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at June 7, 2008 11:25 AM | TrackBack

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I've never made risotto with a sweetie, nor had anyone make it for me. However, I've made plenty a risotto in my time and have this to say about it: Do nothing else for about 25 minutes; commit yourself to the risotto. I am a super multi-tasker, and still have no ability to do much else when making this dish. It requires all your focus to saute, stir, add liquid, stir, and so on. Just make risotto.

As a metaphor, it's a good tip for boyfriends, too.

Posted by: Lesa at June 18, 2008 8:49 PM

Ronald---there is another pasta con le sarde in town! I had it at La Medusa several months back and it's one of their signature dishes. Try it and let me know how it compares.
Ali Scheff

Posted by: Ali at June 9, 2008 7:43 PM
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