It’s not often you see horse and donkey on the same menu. The place in question was the aptly-named Osteria del Cavaliere in the Piazetta Scala in Verona. It’s more of a wine bar than a restaurant, its walls lined with serious looking bottles. I was tempted to have both the bigoli con asino and the tagliata di cavalo, but as my body was still mulling over the extraordinary dinner I had had the night before in the Antica Corte Pallavicina in Polisene Parmense, I thought I’d better go easy. (I’ll file a full report when I’m reunited with my notebook, which I contrived to leave there.)
Easy meant a plate of five cheeses with a plate of mostarde, those fiery chutneys northern Italians are so fond of, on the side. None of the cheeses was exactly a world beater. They were perfectly decent, well-made even, but for someone schooled on Montgomery’s Cheddar, Kirkham’s Lancashire, Berkswell and Ardrahan, these lacked oomph and definition. If I was being charitable, it would say that they were cheeses of quiet pleasures. If I was being unkind, I would say that they were dull. Which made them ideal launch pads for the vivid and entertaining mostarde – classic mixed fruit, pear, cedro and melon.
The horse tagliata was wonderfully well mannered. For those who haven’t eaten horse before, perhaps its colour is the most remarkable thing about it – a deep cardinal red, shading into episcopal purple, particularly when lightly grilled, as this was. The flavour was very mild, delicate, with a hint of minerality and a slight sweetness. Horse meat is the perfect modern protein, low in fat, full of healthy nourishment and, according to the experts, very easy to digest. It made for a very agreeable lunch, along with a dollop or two of various veg. E32 for the food, plus two glasses of a cruiserweight Valpolicella Ripasso and a single espresso. There are worse places to horse around.
Osteria dal Cavaliere,Piazzetta Scala 3, Verona.