After what seems like ages Rene and I got together with our friends Helena and John for lunch at Pilu at Freshwater. Helena had suggested Pilu so she got the reservations all set up. We decided to take the ferry to Manly to meet Helena and John at their house, and then walk over from there. Must remember when walking is involved to wear flat shoes. Taking the ferry was a good idea as I was able to relax and enjoy some wine, had I driven I would only have gotten one or two glasses.
I had heard many good reports about Pilu and was excited to finally get there. Giovanni Pilu and Marilyn Annecchini set up Pilu at Freshwater in 2004 over looking Freshwater beach, which is just along from Manly Beach. The menu has a heavy Sardinian influence reflecting the birthplace Of Giovanni Pilu, and has a wine list heavy in Italian wines with a good emphasis on wines from Sardinia. The wine list also offers a fabulous regional selection from NSW.
On arrival we ordered some sparkling mineral water (which I was thrilled to see was the Bulgari label San Pellegrino) to refresh ourselves after our walk. We settled on a bottle of Berlucchi ‘Cuvée Storica 61’ – a sparkling rose from Franciacorta, as our aperitif. Franciacorta is a region in Lombardy in the north of Italy bordering Switzerland in the north, Emilia-Romagna in the south, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto in the east and Piedmont in the west. Rene and I really must learn more about Italian wines. Often a rose can tend to a bit of sweetness, but this one was dry and perfect to get lunch started.
After a bit of catch up talk we decided to go for the tasting menu with matching wines.
First course was scampi with sea urchin butter, this is the second time I have had sea urchin now. Really good!! The scampi was lightly grilled and the sea urchin butter made a great sauce. This was served with Pala ‘I Fiori’ – Vermentino di Sardegna DOC 2010.
Second course was a ravioli of potato mint and pecorino with burnt butter, sage and black truffle. Served with Santadi ‘Pedraia’ – Nuragus di Cagliari DOC 2009.
The next two courses we didn’t get photos of as we were all too busy eating and talking
Third course: Fregola with tomato and cured meat ragout. On Sunday I thought this was risotto but a bit of research has led me to find that fregola is a Sardinian pasta very similar to Israeli cous cous. It is made from semolina dough and rolled in to balls about 2 -3mm in diameter. The ragout served with this was rich and delicious. Now that I know what fregola is I will be looking out for it when shopping and eating out. Our wine changed to a red for this course Pala ‘I Fiori’ – Monica di Sardegna DOC. There are times when you really want a lighter red and this wine is it. Great flavour and it didn’t overwhelm the food.
This was followed by an orange and olive sorbet. This was served in a fancy spoon, with the sorbet sitting on top of the finely minced olives. Very nice, although personally, I would have liked the olives on top so you get the salty first followed by the sweet.
Fourth course: Snapper fillet with Vernaccia di Oristano and green olives. I love olives and these were the greenest I have ever seen, very low on saltiness (I could eat quite a lot of these if I had a bowl in front of me). For the wine we were back to a white here, Contini ’Karmis’ – Bianco Tharros IGT 2010. A bit more research was required as Vernaccia is new to me. Vernaccia is a sherry style wine from Sardinia and apparently not often found outside of Italy.
Fifth course: Oven roasted suckling pig served on the bone with condiments. Sounds better in Italian: Porcetto arrosto. Succulent pieces of suckling pig with a nice crisp crackling, served on a wooden board. Our condiments came out on our plates, orange jam(bitter orange which went so well with the fattiness of the pork), poached apple and salsa Verdi. A bowl of roasted chats was also served. With this course we were back to a red, Tani ‘Serranu’ – Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2009.
Sixth course: Sardinian fried pastry filled with fresh ricotta and sultanas, served with warm corbezzolo honey. Another new ingredient (even though it is honey), Corbezzolo (also called strawberry bush) is a Sardinian native bush that flowers from October till the end of December. This honey has a hint of bitterness. This pastry was like a little ravioli and was a flavoursome little dessert. The wine was also amazing, sweet but not overbearingly so, Mesa ‘Orodoro’ – LA Vino Bianco Passito VDT 2009.
We had the option of a further cheese course but we were full. Anything more would have been overkill. To finish our tasting we had a digestive of ‘Mezzo’ Mirto – Lucrezio. Mirto is a liqueur made from the berries of the Myrtle tree which grows freely in Sardinia. A very interesting and very different liqueur.
A great lunch and a great day out with friends. There is nothing like a lunch that takes 4 ½ hours. If you plan to make a reservation, get in early and book a seat by the window overlooking the beach.
Wishing all my Readers a Very Merry Christmas and Lots of happiness in 2012!